Iyad Allawi: Economic and security problems must be solved, not just for us but for the world

Share

News reports on Iraq paint a picture of a country trapped in a cycle of violence and destruction. The sceptics and nay-sayers don't believe Iraqis are ready for democracy. They couldn't be more wrong. The vast majority of Iraqis are still hopeful, and yearn for the opportunity of building a prosperous and democratic nation. The process will take time, but the potential outcome of a peaceful and successful Iraq at the heart of the Middle East is of vital importance to all the nations of the world.

News reports on Iraq paint a picture of a country trapped in a cycle of violence and destruction. The sceptics and nay-sayers don't believe Iraqis are ready for democracy. They couldn't be more wrong. The vast majority of Iraqis are still hopeful, and yearn for the opportunity of building a prosperous and democratic nation. The process will take time, but the potential outcome of a peaceful and successful Iraq at the heart of the Middle East is of vital importance to all the nations of the world.

The economic and security situations are intertwined: without peace and security there can be no sustainable reconstruction and no improvement in the lot of the ordinary Iraqi. Yet what is feeding the instability and chaos is the lack of jobs and economic opportunity.

Our approach as the interim government is to address both aspects simultaneously. On the security front our policy is to re-establish control over all areas of the country. The Iraqis who joined or aided the insurgency out of desperation and frustration, but have no blood on their hands, are invited to take advantage of the amnesty. The small minority of hardcore Saddam loyalists and foreign jihadist terrorists whose aim has been to instil terror will not succeed. They will be isolated and brought to justice, no matter how long it takes.

Since the transfer of sovereignty just over two months ago, we have been actively engaged in capacity-building for the institutions required to establish security - boosting the police force, establishing responsible intelligence services and strengthening the National Guard. Iraq is, however, in need of help in expertise, training, and equipment, and we call upon Nato and the European Union to do their utmost to assist.

On the economic front, our priorities are to tackle joblessness, rebuild the national infrastructure and restore basic services, and rapidly boost oil production. Key to these initiatives is the swift and efficient disbursement of pledged reconstruction funds. Despite more than $18bn pledged by the US and $13bn from other countries almost a year ago, only a small fraction (less than 5 per cent) has been received and disbursed. This process needs to be accelerated for Iraqis to see progress.

In addition, Iraq's inherited national debt level is the highest in the world as a percentage of GDP and of exports, and to service it would be unsustain- able for its fragile, fledgling market economy. The vast majority is "odious" debt, used to build up the war machine of the ousted regime, largely through arms purchases supported by the lending countries.

The innocent people of Iraq cannot be expected to bear this crushing burden; the vast majority of the debt must be forgiven if Iraq is to have a chance. Despite vague statements of good intentions, however, concrete pledges of debt forgiveness have not yet been forthcoming.

The oil sector is a vital economic resource and the country's main source income for the time being. It will require responsible management and investment. To this end, we have established the Supreme Oil Policy Council to co-ordinate policy, and are in the process of establishing the Iraqi National Oil Company to manage professionally and apolitically the existing fields and operations, with a view to inviting invest- ment for exploration and development.

Lastly, and of utmost importance, we are preparing the country for elections. An independent Iraqi Electoral Commission has been active with UN training and support, and campaigning is under way to invite all the elements of Iraqi society to participate in a peaceful and inclusive political process. The next step is for free elections to be held in early next year - an ambitious but achievable target that we intend to meet.

The forces of global terrorism are taking advantage of the situation in Iraq and using it as a theatre of operations to destabilise the region. This must not be allowed to happen, and it is in the interests of all nations to assist Iraq in its hour of need.

The writer is interim Prime Minister of Iraq

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition