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UN Urges Iraq to Deliver on Reforms    05/31 06:17


   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council encouraged Iraq's recently 
formed government to deliver on reforms and combat corruption in a resolution 
adopted unanimously Tuesday that backs the country's ongoing fight against the 
Islamic State, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

   The resolution, which extends the U.N. political mission in Iraq for a year, 
welcomes last October's confirmation by Iraq's Council of Representatives of a 
new government and Cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani after 
a more than year-long political stalemate that was punctuated by outbreaks of 
street violence.

   Twenty years after the U.S. invasion toppled longtime dictator Saddam 
Hussein and divided the unified country in the heart of the Arab world, Iraq is 
still seeking stability. In 2014, lslamic State fighters seized Iraqi cities 
and declared a self-styled caliphate in a large swath of territory in Syria and 
Iraq. The group was formally declared defeated in Iraq in 2017 following a 
three-year bloody battle that left tens of thousands dead and cities in ruins, 
but its sleeper cells continue to stage attacks in different parts of the 

   The upheaval between 2003 and 2023 killed about 300,000 Iraqis along with 
more than 8,000 U.S. military, contractors and civilians.

   The resolution supports Iraq "in addressing the challenges it faces as it 
continues its stabilization efforts" including in fighting the Islamic State, 
al-Qaida and their affiliates and ensuring that international human rights and 
humanitarian law are observed. It also backs Iraq's continuing recovery, 
reconstruction and reconciliation.

   The council encouraged al-Sudani's government not only to deliver on reforms 
and tackle corruption but to protect and respect the human rights of all 
Iraqis, promote accountability for rights violations, deliver essential 
services, diversify the oil-dependent economy, create jobs, improve governance, 
combat climate change and strengthen the security sector.

   U.N. special envoy for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the council on 
May 18 that the past 20 years have been "a very rough road," but the new 
government has shown resolve to tackle a number of pressing issues.

   "That said, it is early days, and we do not have a crystal ball to predict 
the unknowns, which could include the rise of potential disrupters," she said. 
"Any government in this position needs time" but "the harsh reality is that 
there is no time to lose."

   Hennis-Plasschaert emphasized the need for all political actors to put 
national interests ahead of individual or party interests, and to support 
independent state institutions and "an active, empowered and protected civic 
space." She stressed that "the healthy interplay of opposition and coalition 
must be allowed to function" and urged passage of a federal budget to provide 
funds to turn some government goals into realities including delivering public 

   "The good news is that the government has taken an express stance against 
the adverse effects of corruption, which stem from the system as constructed 
over the past two decades," she said. "And, yes, vested interests will make the 
required systemic reform undoubtedly an uphill struggle. But it must be done."

   The resolution, adopted by a 15-0 vote, extends the political mission known 
as UNAMI that Hennis-Plasschaert heads until May 31, 2024.

   It says her top priority is to provide advice, support and assistance to the 
Iraqi government on advancing political dialogue that is inclusive, and 
reconciliation at the national and community level.

   UNAMI should also advise, support and assist Iraq's Independent High 
Electoral Commission and other institutions to strengthen electoral 
preparations, including for provincial elections and parliamentary elections in 
the Kurdistan region -- and it should help the government's review of the 
constitution and security sector reform efforts.

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