President Salih delivered a speech, which has been made in a video format due to the spread of COVID-19, to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations on the sidelines of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
" Our national project is to establish the competent State which is capable of imposing law and fulfilling its citizens’ rights. We do not want Iraq to be an arena for conflicts and for others to settle their disputes on its lands," the President stated. " Sovereign and independent Iraq will be a meeting point for the common interests of the area’s peoples and countries and a starting point for a regional system which is based on economic cooperation and mutual security in facing terrorism and extremism."
Furthermore, he said that corruption is the political economy of violence and terrorism; and he reiterated his call, which has been made last year through the General Assembly, to form international coalition, which is like the international coalition against terrorism, to stamp out corruption in addition to recover the looted funds.
Moreover, the President highlighted that, the popular movement stemmed from the desire to make a change in the country which suits the ambitions of all Iraqis; and there is an increasing acknowledgement that the current position will not continue; and a new government has been formed in response to the large popular movement which demands reform, where many tasks in conducting reforms remain ahead.
Among the basic tasks of the government is to work to carry out early elections next year, which will be integral and transparent, according to a new law and by fairer and wider representation; and arms need to be restricted in the hands of the State; and the crimes of killing the protestors and security forces’ personnel should be investigated, he noted.
His Excellency the President asserted that facing outlaw groups and restricting uncontrolled arms, is the State’s conflict with the forces of chaos and extremism.
The latest statement by the supreme religious cleric Sayyid Ali Alsistani, which has been issued after His Eminence received the representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Iraq, has expressed clearly such required tasks to reform the ongoing political process in the country and make it free of corruption and defects, he stated.
He emphasized that Iraq has already achieved military success in defeating terrorism and liberating our cities by the strength of the will of our people and by the sacrifices of our armed forces, the Army, the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga, as well as by supporting International Coalition and our neighbors States, but the war continues against the terrorism and extremism.
He confirmed the we must look back on the genocides and crimes which occurred against the Yazidis; A few days ago, I met with Yazidi women citizens and Shiite and Shabak Turkmen who managed to survive the brutality of terrorism and its horrendous crimes; and these ladies are still facing psychological and physical suffering due to the genocide.
The President added that there is a need for international solidarity to roll back coronavirus, and it is necessary for the advanced countries to help developing countries in addressing the outbreak; and it is essential to have an early planning to ensure that vaccine is distributed equally when being available.
We have to take into account reduction of the commercial nature of its marketing so that the world's poorest nations can get the vaccine for all citizens.
President Salih's speech is as the following:
In the name of Allah most gracious, most merciful
Mr. Secretary General,
Your Majesties, Excellences and Highnesses,
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon all of you.
It is my pleasure to greet you on behalf of the Republic of Iraq, a founding member of the United Nations, and I wish the General Assembly every success in its current session.
This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that the General Assembly is being held virtually. It is an event that encapsulates what we face in addressing COVID-19, a cross-border danger that continues to threaten our lives, how we live, our economy and our societies in general.
This virtual meeting is a genuine reflection of the fundamental changes that have taken place to our way of life and how we communicate with each other.
It is perhaps a paradox that we are meeting and conversing while we are forced to socially distance. The pandemic has forced us to isolate ourselves, but we continue to communicate out of the desire to work and live our lives.
The continued threat of COVID-19 to any city or village on our planet is a threat to the whole world.
And that underscores the importance of boosting common purpose between states and societies, in all their forms, in order to eliminate the virus or at least reduce the damage that it causes.
It also reinforces the importance of cooperation of all among the advanced nations to share the necessary expertise and information to confront the pandemic, as well as the importance of advanced countries helping developing states to create a health environment that is capable of confronting the virus and preventing its damage to life and to societies.
We must all also combat falsehoods about the virus, as ignorance and the spread of fake news threatens the lives of millions. We also note the importance of early planning to ensure that a vaccine is distributed fairly when it becomes available. We should work to reduce the costs of the vaccine, so that all the citizens of the world's poorest nations can access it.
We in Iraq have worked with the resources available to us, which are limited due to our circumstances, to confront the epidemic and to reduce its impact through a series of appropriate measures and precautions recommended by the World Health Organization. Despite that, we have much to do despite our limited healthcare resources and our weak healthcare infrastructure.
Mr. Secretary General,
Both before and after the pandemic appeared, Iraq faced a plague no less serious and dangerous to the world: terrorism and corruption.
We have successfully defeated terrorism and liberated our cities, and did so through the power of our popular will, the sacrifices of the Army, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Peshmerga, and with the support of the international coalition and our neighbors.
But the war against cross-border terrorism and extremism continues, with sleeper cells lying dormant here and there in the deserts of our land.
We cannot underestimate the dangers of the return of terrorist groups and the reconstitution of its remnants; any languor, complacency, or distraction with regional conflicts will allow terrorism to reemerge.
Similarly, complacency in confronting rampant corruption and interference in the sovereignty of our state will hamper efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
In this context, we hope that our friends in the international community will support us in tracking funds that have been stolen from the state and smuggled abroad by corrupt officials, in many cases to finance illegal extremist groups. Corruption is a scourge that many countries suffer from, and it has robbed Iraqis of the fruits of their country's resources; indeed, it has helped to destroy them for many years. Iraqis feel angry and bitter about the ongoing corruption in their country.
On this basis, I called last year at the general assembly for the formation of an international coalition, similar to the international coalition against terrorism, to stamp out corruption and recover the looted funds.
Today, I repeat this call. Terrorism cannot be eliminated unless we drain its financing and end corruption, the political economy of violence, and which has devastated state economies and thwarted the progress and prosperity that our citizens deserve.
Mr. Secretary General,
We must reflect on the genocide and the massacres suffered by the Yazidis in our country, which aimed to wipe them off the map. The international community must stand up and help Iraq to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.
A few days ago, I met with Yazidi, Shiite, Shabak and Turkmen women who survived the brutality and horrendous crimes of terrorism. I listened to the painful suffering that they still endure more than three years after the complete liberation of their cities. These women still face immense psychological and physical suffering due to the genocide, displacement, and the mental and physical torture that they endured. Some of them are still living in camps.
We must do all it takes to return the displaced and refugees to their cities and villages. This will require support for our efforts from our friends around the world and from international organizations.
Mr. Secretary General,
Iraq is burdened by the legacy of over forty years of wars, conflict, sanctions and terrorism. As is the case with other countries, it has suffered this year from the collapse of international oil prices and the fallout from the economic crisis that COVID brought about. The simultaneous energy and economic downturns have had grave effects, which left us facing unexpected challenges.
It has been almost a year since Iraq witnessed popular demonstrations borne of Iraqis' desire to bring about change in their country.
This movement includes a vital discussion about the foundations of the state, how it should be governed and what people's rights are.
The reform process in the country has begun, but it needs time and effort to deliver the outcome that is demanded by the people. The steps which we have taken along the way illustrate the possibility of bringing about peaceful and constitutional change without violence; this is what Iraqis want. In response to this large popular movement demanding reform, a new government was formed this year, led by Mr. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
I can say, in light of Iraq's experience since it overcame tyranny, that there is an increasing acknowledgement that the existing situation cannot persist. Iraqis seek a new political compact that addresses the latent structural deficiencies of the post-2003 order, and delivers them good governance.
In responding to popular demands, the government faces a huge set of responsibilities, primarily delivering the fundamental political, economic and administrative reforms that are called for. And this necessitates fighting corruption and the corrupt -- who are the other face of terrorism.
Among the other basic tasks of the government is to hold free and fair early elections next year, based on a new law that guarantees more balanced and wider representation. We need to respond to the demands of the national popular movement that is striving to establish democracy. We must also meet the legitimate aspirations of Iraqis for a free and dignified life, where they are the paramount authority in their country and have the final say, and where they have a government that represents them, one that delivers on their aspirations and ambitions.
Within this context, the government needs to address another issue that is of no less importance, namely, to restrict arms in the hands of the state, to prevent their illegal possession or use outside state institutions, and to investigate the criminal killing of protestors and security forces’ personnel.
Facing down outlawed groups and controlling arms is a battle against the forces of chaos and extremism. It is not an easy task, but one that must be accomplished if we want security for our people and if we want Iraq to have full control over its territory.
The latest statement by the supreme religious cleric His Eminence Sayyid Ali Al Sistani, which was issued after His Eminence received the representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Iraq, clearly expressed the steps necessary to reform the ongoing political process in Iraq and free it from corruption and weakness.
In this context, we look forward to the assistance of the United Nations in coordinating with the Iraq High Electoral Commission and providing technical and monitoring support, in order to guarantee the integrity of the elections and to prevent manipulation, fraud, forgery, extortion, and anything else that influences personal freedom and voter choice.
Mr. Secretary General,
Our national project is to establish a competent state that is capable of imposing the law and able to deliver the rights of its citizens. We do not want Iraq to be an arena for conflicts and a place for others to settle their disputes.
Iraq has had enough of wars, sanctions, conflict, and terrorism. An independent Iraq that enjoys sovereignty will be a meeting point for the common interests of the Middle East's peoples and countries, and a starting point for a regional system that is based on economic cooperation and mutual security in confronting terrorism and extremism.
We look forward to the active support of our neighbors and the international community in this national project, which will have significant and influential consequences for the future of Iraq, the region and the world.
In this context, Iraq stresses the importance of solving the Palestinian issue and fulfilling the rights of the Palestinian people in an independent state. This will also help to stabilize the region and the world.
Ladies and gentlemen
I hereby remember our martyrs who sacrificed for freedom by confronting terrorism. I salute our young men and women who every day demonstrate their demand and determination for a dignified and free life. We look to the future through the aspirations of the youth, and their resolve to complete the path towards freedom, rule of law, and justice.
We salute the souls of those who faced martyrdom in the struggle for liberty and the war against terrorism.
We salute to the youths who strive for liberty and prosperity. We see hope, a bright future, rule of law, and justice in their eyes.
Finally, I reiterate my appreciation for the United Nations on its seventy-fifth anniversary. There is no alternative to this organization that gathers us despite our differences, especially as we face challenges that cross the formal borders of states, such as disease, climate change, food security, and migration and the displaced. All these challenges can be addressed through the United Nations and its charter.
Undoubtedly, the international system has failed many times during the last seventy-five years. We remember bitter experiences like the massacres of Rwanda, and the hardships, genocides and crimes that Iraq has suffered. Today, there are ongoing crises in Syria and Libya. We must learn from the lessons of the past, and at the same time extend sustainable development objectives and work seriously on the United Nations’ agenda of reform, in order to promote the aspirations of the people of the world.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for your kind attention.
Hopefully, soon we will meet together in a safe world free of the Corona virus, and free of the viruses of hatred, corruption, war and terrorism