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Iraq’s Salih Calls for New Political Contract, Formation of Int’l Coalition Against Corruption

Iraq’s Salih Calls for New Political Contract, Formation of Int’l Coalition Against Corruption

Thursday, 24 September, 2020 - 05:30
Iraqi President Barham Salih | AP

Iraqi President Barham Salih called for the need to adopt a new political contract in Iraq that addresses the problems left behind by the post-2003 system of governance.

Salih, in a speech before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, urged the need to build an international coalition to fight corruption.

“Iraq has witnessed a popular movement stemming from the desire to bring about change in the country that suits the aspirations of all Iraqis,” the president said.

He continued that “Iraqis are looking forward to a new political contract that addresses the structural defect inherent in the system of government after 2003 and guarantees them good governance,” stressing that “the government has great responsibilities represented in its main aspect, which is the basis for carrying out structural political, economic, and administrative reforms, combating corruption and spoilers, and working on holding early elections. Next year, arms are confined to the hands of the state.

Regarding the war on terrorism, Salih stressed that it is still ongoing, pointing out that the danger of terrorism and its reemergence should not be underestimated.

He warned that any complacency or preoccupation with conflicts in the region will give room for the reemergence of terror groups.

He went on to denounce the “rampant corruption and interference” that had harmed his country’s national sovereignty, saying that such acts would also impede Iraq’s efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.

"We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces that will kill each other on our territory," Salih said.

"We have witnessed enough wars and enough attacks on our sovereignty," he said.

Iraq has attempted a delicate balancing act between neighboring Iran, and the United States, which invaded and toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

President Donald Trump in January ordered a drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran's most prominent general, Qasem Soleimani, as well as an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary leader, raising calls in Baghdad for the expulsion of US forces.

Trump rejected the calls for a withdrawal but this month ordered a sharp cutback of troops in Iraq as part of his election promise to stop "endless" wars.

Salih hinted at frustration in Iraq with "anarchic" groups, whose rocket fire on US forces had prompted the drone strike.

"Weapons must remain in the hands of Iraqi state institutions," Salih said.

He also vowed to tackle rampant corruption, a key priority for Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power after sweeping nationwide protests.

Salih stressed the need to isolate the corrupt elements involved in capital flight.

"[Corruption has] contributed to the destruction of Iraq for many years,” he added as he called for the formation of an international organization to recover stolen assets.

Faced with the scourge of corruption, the President called for the creation of an international coalition against corruption on the model of the coalition against terrorism.

“Terrorism can only be eradicated by drying up its sources of financing and ending corruption,” Salih said.

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