Iraqi President warns against complacency in the fight against terrorism

23 September 2021

International cooperation and solidarity are the only way to combat terrorism, Iraqi President Barham Salih said in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, warning against complacency. 

He said over the past 40 years alone, Iraq has suffered wars, embargoes, tyranny, genocidal campaigns, as well as “the grip of terrorism over our cities”.

Today, the country is working to rebuild areas liberated from the extremist group ISIL, also known as Daesh, and to ensure that displaced people can return home.

Remain vigilant

President Salih told world leaders the danger terrorism poses cannot be understated.

“If we become lax and distracted by regional conflicts, we will simply see the return of obscurantist forces that will threaten our peoples and our security,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“Cooperation and solidarity are our only choice in our fight against international terrorism and the groups which support it. We have to fight against its funding, deal with its dangerous effects, and provide reparation to its victims, ensuring that these tragic sufferings are not repeated.”

Rebuilding after terrorism

Relatedly, Iraq has adopted a law to assist Yazidi survivors of ISIL atrocities, which included mass executions, forced conversions and sexual violence targeting thousands of Yazidi women and girls.   

The law also covers women from other minority groups.

Mr. Salih reported great progress in rebuilding regions “freed from the yoke of terrorism”, but said his country hopes to benefit from international support.

“We must respond to the urgent humanitarian needs and promote the capacity for rebuilding the infrastructure in the country so that our citizens will be able to once again find a dignified and normal life.”  

‘National battle’ against corruption  

Meanwhile, the President noted that corruption is another threat to security and stability, both worldwide and in Iraq.   

“Our country is facing corruption because of the heavy burden left behind by wars and conflicts that have squandered a huge part of the resources of the country, thus depriving Iraqis of the riches of their land,” he said.

Describing the fight against corruption as “a genuine national battle”, Mr. Salih reported that his Government is working on draft legislation to recover stolen assets.

“The situation of the country will not normalize unless we manage to beat corruption,” he stated.

“This fight means we must limit the sources of corruption and block their various forms of access. We must ensure that funds are restored that have been plundered or trafficked, a great part of which are used to perpetuate violence and chaos in the country.  We have no other choice than that of victory.”

The President urged countries to help Iraq find these assets.  He also called for an international alliance to fight corruption, similar to the one to combat terrorism globally.

Full text of speech, in Arabic, here.

 

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