This week, we mark the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the dictatorial regime, with all the pain and tragedy that was born of it, as well as all the hopes for prosperity and liberation from tyranny and injustice. The thunderous collapse of the regime was the result of decades of oppression, tyranny and mismanagement. Meanwhile, twisted fantasies and attempts to attack and dismiss others, domestically and externally, squandered the wealth of the country, while Iraqis’ lives and dignity were taken lightly.
The regime’s downfall was the inevitable outcome of the way in which the country had been run and the regime’s failure to properly assess its strengths and those of its opponents. Instead of the country embarking on a long overdue renaissance, it was gripped by the sorts of developments that countries usually face after they escape the grip of a deranged authoritarian regime and transition to a country of freedoms and liberties, which sometimes turned into chaos.
The conditions persisted for a long time, and they dashed the people’s hopes for freedom, salvation and progress. The time to heal our wounds has come; we must take steps toward a prosperous future for the brave Iraqi people. Our people have been extremely patient, sacrificing their dearest possessions and offering busloads of martyrs for the sake of liberating Iraq’s people and territory and cleaning out the filth of terrorism and tyranny.
Iraq managed to formulate a constitution centered on the Iraqi people (both men and women) that guaranteed their rights to freedom, dignity and equality. The constitution paved the way for building a state of equal citizenship, which must remain our objective. We strive to achieve it despite all the difficulties and challenges. It also guaranteed the country’s sovereignty, independence, and unity.
Our people are waiting for a renaissance, which they know their country has all the requisites for. We do not lack human capital, and our labor force is educated. We are not short on natural and manmade wealth either. This is the land of eternal rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. It is geographically located in one of the most strategic and significant places on the world map.
All of this has afforded Iraq a special place in history. It was a beacon of science, literature and knowledge that scholars and students flocked to for centuries. The time has come for us to remember these feats and allow them to inspire us to push toward the restoration of Iraq’s role as a leading country.
These are not merely fanciful hopes. Rather, they must be turned into reality, and with God’s help, our people are capable of doing so. What we need are well-formulated plans and practical programs. We must implement them stringently in all domains. Today, we are on the cusp of a new phase that we seek to make a prosperous one, and we are working very hard on this. We have developed a holistic program to address the most pressing problems facing the country. From the very first instant, we have been working to clear all of the obstacles hindering the country’s progress.
One of the most prominent barriers is financial and administrative corruption. Thus, since the beginning, we have taken the initiative to eliminate this problem within the framework of a comprehensive plan that we will be updated on a regular basis. We want to strike the pits and tools of corruption wherever they are. In this regard, I look forward to helping all the good people of Iraq and every citizen who stands by the state and its loyal institutions in addressing this problem, which is just as dangerous as terrorism.
We are determined to rebuild Iraq within the framework of a clear vision and a road map of several stages. We have started the first phase by channeling the state’s energy towards construction, economic reform, and combating poverty, as we have made clear in the comprehensive program of our government, which set our priorities. The second stage involves working to ensure economic and human development, as well as building our military capacities and enhancing security.
Despite the scale of domestic and global challenges, we are steadfast in our determination to face them. The difficult circumstances that our people have undergone during this period have helped them better identify their interests. They know that conflicts and quarrels can only lead to failure and regression on every level.
The hardships and calamities faced by the Iraqi people of all faiths have solidified their Iraqi identity. It has become clear that the sub-identities, while greatly respected, cannot substitute a national identity that unifies the people of Iraq. There is no glory without this unity, and none of us will live in dignity until the entirety of Iraq is a dignified leading nation.
The Iraq of today is an Iraq that has made peace with itself and others. It does not want to harm anyone, nor would it allow anyone to attack it. This is an Iraq that wants the best for all and for its people to lead the lives they are worthy of. Iraq needs all of its citizens without exception, especially amid the current construction drive.
We look forward to working diligently alongside all friendly countries and international organizations to overcome the environmental challenges facing the planet, including desertification, increased sand and dust storms, water shortages, rising temperatures, exacerbating pollution, disease, and poverty, and declining services, as well as all other challenges that require total cooperation to overcome, especially those that cannot be solved with measures in one place but not others.
We are aware of the gravity of these difficulties, and we are fully prepared. Indeed, we are doing everything we can to develop partnerships and bring countries together to face these challenges. Iraq extends its hand to any good relationship and partnership in security, the economy, or the environment.
Diversifying our sources of income is a pressing need. We must stop depending on oil revenues to fund our budgets. Building alternatives through agriculture, industry, tourism, trade, and other pursuits is necessary.
We have also set meticulous plans to encourage domestic and foreign investment, opening the door to investors and ventures. We are aware that construction and investment will require more skilled workers and capacity building. Thus, we have launched the Entrepreneurship Program to help youths acquire the expertise and skills needed in the market without forgetting to build the capabilities of our military and security agencies.
Development can only be achieved through domestic stability and solid foreign relations. Domestic stability demands that Iraq be a country of laws where the state has a monopoly on arms. We will not tolerate seeing weapons outside the hands of the state’s security and military establishment. As for solid foreign relations, they require the development of regional and international partnerships.
Iraq’s abundance of resources, strategic location, history, regional weight, and influence in the world economy all mean that it has the capacity to play a bigger role befitting that is of its real size. And its good relations with friendly countries have paved the way for building bilateral and multilateral partnerships with many countries across the globe, and we have many more relationships to build.
Finally, I believe that today is the right time to launch a comprehensive national campaign for construction, reconstruction, and the development of services throughout the country. With the help of the Iraqi people, our partners, and our friends, we will build a strong and capable Iraq. This will be achieved through our next plan, which we have called “Iraq 2050.”