‘Cautious Optimism’ about Iraq’s Future

Real progress had been achieved in replacing Iraq’s ruthless dictatorship with institutions mandated by constitutional principles, which laid the ground for “cautious optimism” about the future, provided that determined national leadership and a stronger spirit of cooperation in the region prevailed, Ad Melkert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council today.

Briefing the Council on recent developments, Mr. Melkert said that in some important aspects, Iraq was at the heart of fundamental changes in the region, as its system of government had incorporated a power-sharing Constitution that guaranteed the participation of women and minorities while nurturing a culture of constitutional debate.  While it had been drawn out, Government formation had progressed, with Parliament now taking an increasingly important role in decision-making.  In a departure from decades of authoritarian regime, negotiations among all parties had become the predominant feature of political life, he added.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s economy continued to grow at a 10 per cent rate amid higher than projected oil revenues, he said, noting that a 50 per cent jump in foreign direct investment to more than $42 billion in 2010 had benefited construction, transportation, electricity, health and agriculture.  At the same time, the poverty index remained high, at 22.9 per cent.  “These political and economic facts matter in a country that has suffered much during three decades of wars and oppression,” he stressed.  Explaining that reconstruction, institution-building and “bringing back knowledge” took time, he said armed opposition groups had tried to make undue gains through kidnappings and assassinations.  That such violence had not subsided underscored the need for determined, jointly shared political action against the perpetrators, regardless of the source of their support.

Consolidating gains would also require a “keen understanding” of the need to resolve pending issues, he said, stressing that the key lay in the implementation of the November 2010 Erbil Agreement that had brought together the Prime Minister of Iraq, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqiya leader under a power-sharing arrangement.  Since the appointment of security ministers was pending, and the National Council for Strategic Policies had not yet been formed, there was understandable concern over whether the post-election spirit could prevail, he said, calling on Iraq’s political leaders to set aside their differences and move swiftly to agreement on a way forward.

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