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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker