Mladenov: Most Pressing Goal Remains Defeating IS

Delivering his final briefing as the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov today stressed to the Security Council the optimism he feels for the country’s future, while tempering those hopes with fear over the many things that can go wrong.

“I am a paranoid optimist,” said Mr. Mladenov, noting the efforts made by Iraq’s political, community and religious leaders to save their country from terror. “Today, more than ever, there is a growing understanding that the country can only move forward based on the principles of democracy, rule of law, respect for diversity and inclusivity.”

Even though the national unity Government was set on addressing many long-standing concerns of the Iraqi people, Mr. Mladenov said that he remains “paranoid.”

“So many things can go wrong,” he warned. “ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) remains in control of most of Iraq’s western provinces, the fragile efforts towards unity and reconciliation need to be carefully nurtured if they are to bear fruit, while the economy has been hit by falling low prices and skyrocketing security costs.”

He pointed to the Government’s “important steps” on political and institutional reform, economic and social reconstruction and national reconciliation, as well as its efforts to engage countries in the region.

“Iraq’s most pressing goal remains to win back territory taken by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL,” he said. “The authorities have pledged to provide military and financial assistance to local leaders and tribal fighters to aid their struggle against ISIL.”

Moving forward would require expansion of the process of inclusion into the political sphere, as an exclusively military solution to the problem would be both impossible and counterproductive.

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