For over three decades, Iraq's standing in the international community was steadily eroded by the disastrous foreign policy of the former regime. The tyranny Saddam Hussein inflicted upon the Iraqi people extended to Iraq's international relations through catastrophic wars, a blatant disregard for international law, support for international terrorism and the proliferation of WMD. In the Middle East, Saddam Hussein agitated violence, intimidated Iraq's neighbours, fomented regional instability and continued to pose a dangerous threat to the rest of the world.
With the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath regime, Iraq has taken steps toward re-engagement on the international stage. Iraq currently has diplomatic representation in 54 countries around the world, including three permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, and the Arab League in Cairo. Forty-three nations have diplomatic representation in Iraq.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was actively pursuing normalisation of diplomatic relations with the international community on the basis of cooperation and respect for mutual interests and international law. The challenge was to promote and protect Iraq's interests through active participation in multilateral forums and initiatives, in all fields of political, economic, social and cultural exchange. The new Iraq was committed to abiding by international rules and the universal principles of human rights, democracy and good governance and we reject the illegal proliferation of WMD.
The priority was to stabilise the country and secure its borders as the government confronts international terrorism, intent on destabilising the democratic process and destroying progress towards peace and prosperity. The stability of Iraq has wider implications for regional security and failure to defeat this menace would have disastrous consequences reaching far beyond Iraq's borders. Iraq seeks to engage its neighbors in stemming the tide of terrorism through close cooperation on border security and was working alongside coalition partners to protect external frontiers and maintain stability inside the country. Iraq was making progress by building military, security and police capabilities, with the welcome assistance of a number of countries that are providing training programs, to empower Iraqis to take charge of their own security.
Iraq was one of the founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In September 2003, a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Minister Zebari, regained Iraq's seat at the 120th Session of the Arab League in Cairo. Iraq was fully committed to upholding and defending the charter of the Arab League and playing a vital role in all its agencies and institutions. We place great emphasis on strengthening multi-lateral relations in the Arab and Islamic domains and we actively promote friendly and beneficial relations between the Arab world and the international community.
The vital role of the United Nations in Iraq has always been welcomed by the Iraqi people, in particular its commitment to humanitarian programs which provided a lifeline to millions of Iraqis throughout the prolonged Iraq crisis under the former regime. The United Nations has issued three Security Council Resolutions on the future of Iraq since May 2003 (UNSCRs1483, 1500 and 1511), which provide a wide mandate for UN involvement in political, economic and administrative fields. The UN has an effective role to play in Iraq in humanitarian affairs, capacity building and democratic reform among other areas.
The goal of United States policy was the emergence of an Iraq that was sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. U.S. policy promotes a just, representative, and accountable Iraqi government. The Security Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement provide the basis for the development of U.S.-Iraq relations. When announcing the timeline for withdrawing American combat forces from Iraq, President Obama emphasized that the long-term solution to Iraq's problems must be political and that decisions about the country's future must be made by the Iraqis themselves. On August 31, 2010, the United States completed withdrawal of combat brigades in accordance with President Obama's timeline. The remaining U.S. forces (approximately 50,000 troops) were to advise and assist in training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and withdrew by the end of 2011 in accordance with the terms of the Security Agreement.
President Barack Obama's withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the scaling-down of U.S. diplomats in Baghdad closed the defining foreign policy campaign of his predecessor, President George W. Bush. A decade after the invasion, which began March 19, 2003, Washington appeared to have little influence over what goes on there. U.S. companies in the energy, defense, information technology, automotive and transportation sectors in recent years have become increasingly active in Iraq. The United States and Iraq negotiated a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2005 to create a government-to-government forum to discuss how increase trade and investment flows between the two countries. The Iraqi parliament finally ratified the TIFA text in December 2012. Two-way trade between the United States and Iraq in 2012 was $21.3 billion, with U.S. exports to Iraq at $2.04 billion, and Iraqi exports to the United States at $19.3 billion, most of that oil.
Iraq and Turkey
Relations between Turkey and Iraq are positive, though some contentious issues remain. Iraq has asked Turkey to increase the flow of water to Iraq along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Conversely, Turkey maintains that the amount of water reaching Iraq from Turkey exceeds amounts Turkey was obligated to provide. Nonetheless, Turkish PM Erdogan agreed in October 2009 to consider increasing the water flow. On October 15, 2009, Turkey and Iraq signed 48 memoranda of understanding (MOU) covering areas of cooperation that included trade, interior affairs, and counter-terrorism (CT). Later, in October 2009, the Turkish Foreign Minister officially inaugurated the Turkish consulates general in Mosul and Basrah.
Also at the forefront of Turkish-Iraqi issues were the improved relations between Turkey and the KRG. Kurdish leadership denounced the violent actions of the anti-Turkish terrorist group – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also called Kongra Gel (KGK) – and encouraged them to disarm. Additionally, Turkey, Iraq, and USF-I agreed to a trilateral action plan, which provides a framework to address the PKK/KGK. Turkey increased its diplomatic outreach to the KRG, exemplified by the Turkish Foreign Minister’s late October 2009 visit, the mid-March 2010 establishment of a consulate in Irbil, and the hosting of KRG President Barzani in June 2010. Ankara and Irbil also emphasized their shared economic interests in trade, tying the two closer together.
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