On the sixth and seventh of this March, with the participation of Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq and the presence of 400 high political and economic figures from inside and outside Iraq, the activities of the sixth Sulaimani Forum were started , under the slogan «Iraq and neighboring countries, towards a new regional system», with the participation of Iraqi and International figures which was organized by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS ) , an Iraqi –based research institute housed at the American University in Sulaymaniyah. The Sulaimaniyah Forum focused on the stabilization, good governance and economic growth in Iraq and the region and it is an important opportunity to exchange views and share ideas through participation in dialogue seminars attended by local and international dignitaries specialized in political, economic and cultural fields. Its importance lies in the presence and participation of figures that include leaders of Arab, regional and Iraqi countries, as well as a representative of the President of the United Nations, a representative of the Presidency of the European Union and heads of international, regional, Arab and Iraqi research centers.
The forum included dialogue sessions attended by the President of the Republic of Iraq Barham Salih. In his speech during the opening of the forum, the President said that Iraq has made great sacrifices to eliminate the terrorist organization ISIS, and there is great optimism that the situation will be improved. He added the victory over the terrorist organization ISIS is a field victory and the alleged caliphate was eliminated as well as the liberation of the Iraqi arena from the military presence of terrorists. However, we must not underestimate the remnants of terrorism, because the organization of ISIS has not been completely eradicated and there are remnants scattered on the Iraqi-Syrian border, and may have the opportunity to reorganize their ranks. The president added the eradication of ISIS is carried out by constant intelligence effort and prepare political situations especially in the liberates areas to enable our people in these areas to return to their homes and start the reconstruction process , he pointed out : “Iraq has been at the forefront of the war against the terrorists and has made great sacrifices in eliminating the dangers of terrorism by its military forces of the Army , Peshmerga and the popular crowd, with the support of the international coalition. ” Barham Salih added that Iraq is going through difficult circumstances and that our people in liberated area have the right to criticize the work of the government, noting that the government and the Prime Minister insist to rebuild the liberated areas and provide the best services to the citizens there.
Regarding the efforts to combat the corruption, Salih said corruption in Iraq and some countries is a major problem hampering state-building, rule of law and social harmony. If we can not end corruption, we will not be able to eliminate the cycle of violence in Iraq. And that corruption has turned into something like a deep state, a political economy of violence, and a hindrance to state-building. On the US presence in Iraq, President Barham Salih said that the US forces in Iraq are present in agreement with the federal government for training and counseling in the war against terrorism, and that there are no combat and war forces, and the existing forces are only to fight terrorism and any other purpose is rejected by Iraqi government. “With regard to US policy toward Iran and regional tensions, Salih said,” We are working to ease tensions and we do not want Iraq to be a party to these tensions . ” Salih pointed out that “the growing confidence generated by the people after the war against ISIS , and realized that success is necessary and possible, the Shiite citizen began to criticize the Shiite leaders through the provinces of the south, including Basra and the Sunni citizen in Mosul and Anbar began to criticize the Sunni leaders, the Kurdish citizen also did the same in Sulaymaniyah , thus they share the aspiration to provide services through a good government that provides services to its citizens. ”
With regard to the economy and employment opportunities, Salih pointed out that “Iraq has 38 million people, and young people make up about 70% of it , which is under the age of 30 years.” He said, “There is serious unemployment that requires a great challenge in providing work opportunities, especially as Iraq has huge resources and geographical location as well as the country is undergoing major economic transformations and the creation of jobs is not achieved overnight.”On the international political situation in the region, Saleh stressed the” importance of dialogue between the parties to resolve political differences, “adding that” The differences exist between Iran and the Gulf states and Turkey, and everyone must participate in not allowing the collapse of Iraq. “He concluded by saying that “the situation in Syria, the debate is still ongoing and there is no choice for them only by the political solution and dialogue, and what happened in it was a major disaster where billions of dollars have been spent absurdity and ended worse than started by the conflict and Iraq is concerned about what is happening in Syria.”
As for the words of the political figures in the forum, we will discuss them in some detail. The head of Iraq’s reform and reconstruction alliance, Ammar al-Hakim, said “Iraq is renewing its call for dialogue with Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia , adding that finding a foreign military force to monitor a neighboring country is something the constitution and all political forces reject. He pointed out that “one of the most important variables in the new Iraq is the regional understanding of the Iraqi issue and there are regional conflicts but are keen to find good relations with him.
Al-Hakim stressed , Iraq has a pivotal and basic role being in the heart of four nations : Turkey, Persian , Arab, Kurdish , and its stability means the stability of the region , adding “Iraq must have an independent state in its decision and influence in the region. We renew the call for dialogue between Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “All the challenges in the country are a priority of the reform alliance to find solutions to all problems,” he said, stressing that “the security system must be unified and subject to a central decision under the command of the General Command of the armed forces.” Mr. Hakim pointed out that the completion of the government cabinet will be within weeks of the legislative term and said “The traditional political forces were unable to meet the aspirations of the new youth generation and we formed a youth movement in order to take strategic steps,” he said. “Iraq opened up to the countries of the world and the region and interacted with it in the war against terror.”Adding that” Iraq can be the dove of peace in the region and bring together the different and the opponents. “Mr. Hakim said all political forces agree that Iraq’s need for an international coalition is determined by the Iraqi government, stressing that finding a foreign military force to monitor a neighboring country is rejected by the constitution and all political powers .
The leader of the National Coalition Iyad Allawi, who participated alongside former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa in a dialogue seminar, stressed the need for talks between all political parties to solve the problems. Allawi said that it is necessary to hold talks between all political parties to solve problems and issues, and he pointed out that the organization of ISIS was defeated militarily , but that the organization’s ideology is still present and has not yet been eliminated. On his part, former Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said Iraq was rich in its location, role and wealth, giving it the right to have a leading regional role in cooperation with its brothers in the region. He added that Iraq’s inability to play its desired role was the result of internal problems, external interference and terrorism that hit Iraq and the region, preventing it from progressing towards building the national state, which contains its components and all are equal in rights and duties, and respect for the state against those who attempt to violate its sovereignty and gains the trust of citizens on the basis of neutrality among all components and equality among them . . Siniora said that corruption is not the one who gets a bribe or profit, but corruption is political corruption fueled by quotas and the use of government agencies for the benefit of groups at the expense of other categories of citizens.
For his part, former Secretary General of the Arab League, Omar Moussa said, that Iraq is an important state in the region and the world and he never lost confidence in the return of Iraq to play its historic leading role in the region. While Moussa pointed to the inability of any party or an international party to confiscate Iraq’s decision and its leading role and political status and put it in a corner at the expense of another, he stressed that it is impossible to talk about the Arab world and the region without mentioning the importance of the Kurdistan region. Moussa added “It is imperative for us, in the twenty-first century, to recognize the need for a new arrangement for co-existence in the region, specifically in Iraq as a one of the main columns for the region and Middle East . As for the former president of Lebanon, Amin Gemayel, he pointed out that “what Iraq suffers from , Lebanon and several countries are suffering from it as well . We consider Iraq our home, and I tested it during my visits to Iraq.” He stressed in a speech during the sixth Sulaymaniyah forum under the slogan” Iraq and neighboring countries towards a new regional order “, that” the diversity must be creative and constructive, “stressing that” the issue of self-distancing is very important, and must use external relations in a positive way, and to invest it towards better foreign relations. Gemayel stressed that “” good governance is the basis for building the homeland and the citizen, and no growth and development without it, and it is a prerequisite for the country’s growth and independence “. He added “We felt that there is a qualitative shift in Iraq recently to achieve these goals and as far as Iraq stabilized and returned to its normal role, as much as the Arab region stabilized.” He said “We need a unified, strong and recovering Iraq.”
Since the election of Barham Salih as President of the Republic of Iraq in October of last year, and his conduct of political behavior open to the inside and outside Iraq, where it was given to the post of President of Iraq, a remarkable vitality which was absent completely with the former presidents of Iraq. Barham Salih managed, with all Arab, regional and international weight, to gather at the Sulaymaniyah sixth forum Arab, regional and international political figures whose interests in the Middle East are contradicted. This stems from his political convictions: Iraq seeks to build the best relations with its Arab and Gulf, Regional and international depth and cooperation with his brothers in the establishment of good neighborliness, economic integration and common cultural advancement. Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran also have strong ties, which we aspire to develop and strengthen its basis to be in turn an example for cooperation for the progress and stability of the region , and there are distinguished relations between Iraq and Turkey, which also have open prospects for development, and this enhances the chances of peace that the region and its peoples deserve . It is a peace that will not remain a mere promise to the entire region if complete security stability is achieved in a democratic and federal Iraq and in Syria with a sincere national understanding between the Syrian brethren and the preservation of the peace of Syria and the security of its people and in Yemen we hope an end to the suffering of its people and establish elements of peace and rights of its people.
“I promise you to protect the unity and integrity of Iraq.” This was announced by Barham Salih in his performance of the constitutional oath as president of the Republic of Iraq. At the time, the Iraqi political class and the international community received the news of the election of the Iraqi parliament, Barham Salih, as President of the Republic of Iraq with great welcome. It was also a promising start for a coming technocratic president based on a conciliatory approach. What distinguishes the current president of Iraq from the other political figures in Iraq is his frankness and clarity of position. Barham Salih has been influenced by democratic concepts and norms in Western countries and took from its experience and trusted her noble goals, trying to convey these concepts to Iraq after 2003. However the system of sectarian and ethnic quotas has prevented this. In all of his political stations, Barham Salih remained the most open and reasonable politician in the eyes of all . He was the most liberal and free from the partial quarrels, and the most able to communicate with all the opponents, who is a way from the sectarian and national rivalries in his country of Iraq. More importantly, in his view, he is the most acceptable and privileged in the political circles and global decision centers, the American and the European.
The presence of Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq, the Sixth Sulaymaniyah Forum and his active participation, is only an affirmation of his concern for the future of Iraq plagued by crises and tragedies. The President believes in good neighborly relations with Iran and Turkey and the neighborhood and Arab depth. He sees the need not to repeat the tragedies of the past and chaos of false slogans, and rejects Iraq to be the arena of settling the accounts of others, and believes that the interests of Iraq and Kurdistan region lies in balanced relations with neighbors. Iraq, in accordance with his insight, needs a serious internal understanding and a regional consensus to eradicate this malignant tumor represented by ISIS and its sisters. This requires a radical solution to the problems of Iraq, which is moving from crisis to more dangerous crisis .we are in front of an extraordinary Iraqi president.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies