SPEECH BY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ, H.E. JALAL TALABANI
Comrades and dear friends,
I warmly salute you and wish success for your meeting.
We come to you from the new federal and democratic Iraq. An Iraq that afforded the widest range of democratic freedoms for its people on the ruins of a criminal dictatorship that committed many crimes against the people and betrayed the homeland.
It left behind mass graves with hundreds of thousands of innocent people buried alive. It left us a destroyed economy, a destroyed country with over hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars.
For over 35 years of dictatorship, all ethnicities and sects of our people have suffered from the various wars that the dictatorship waged - on the people of Kurdistan in the north and the Arab people of the south, the war on neighbouring Iran, and sisterly peaceful Kuwait.
These wars have brought to our people the calamities of destruction; the killing of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions from the homeland. It wasted vast amounts of the country’s wealth and destroyed all of the villages and districts of Kurdistan; it dried the Marsh Arabs in the south; it eradicated millions of date palms and it halted our national agriculture and industry.
When our people rose to exercise their freedoms and to face the challenge of rebuilding and renewal, they were confronted with the unfair Security Council Resolution 1483 that was passed by all of its members, including the Arab vote in the council.
This resolution imposed occupation and its harsh repercussions and deprived our people form exercising their right to rule and to build their parliamentary, political and military institutions.
But our people, who long for freedom and the right to self determination, continued their struggle until they convinced the imposed occupation and the UN to form the Governing Council that comprised representatives of Islamic, nationalist and democratic forces and also the Kurdish people.
Then they managed to hold three elections for a parliament and for the ratification of a permanent constitution and also the election of the three presidencies; the presidency of the republic, the parliament and the council of ministers. The elections also produced a national unity government that has representatives of the four parliamentary blocs.
We also started to regain our national sovereignty and our diplomatic relations with the world. But the security task including the rebuilding of the armed forces and combating terrorism, which is a joint responsibility of the Iraqi government and International coalition, remained unfinished. We are striving to return this responsibility to the hands of the freely-elected Iraqi government.
We consider this return a prime condition for the rebuilding of our forces in a way that imposes security and law and defeats the terrorist gangs of al-Qaida, which is waging a war of annihilation against all segments of Iraqi society.
They consider the Shi’a majority as blasphemous, the second ethnicity, the Kurds, as traitors and consider the Sunni Arabs who refuse to obey their orders as infidels who deserve death.
Despite the confrontation of this criminal gang by the Sunni Arab citizens and their tribes in their areas, and also the successes of our new armed forces by inflicting heavy defeats on them, they are still conducting a policy of blindly killing innocent civilians.
They kill labourers, students, Christian and Muslim clergymen. This resulted in creating troubles that led to the migration of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to Jordan and Syria and the expulsion of tens of thousands to the safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Since its liberation from dictatorship, Iraq is coming under an external invasion of terrorists from all parts of the Arab world, from the Maghreb, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria by exploiting the laxness of the governments that oppose a federal and democratic Iraq and also through benefiting from the generous financial backing of organizations that pretend to promote Islam in these countries.
Iraq has now become an arena for the conniving of most of these governments against our people. And the reasons are clear:
1. The fear of the establishment of the young Iraqi democracy which might inspire the people of the Middle East to ask for the democracy that they are deprived of. It will also inspire the oppressed ethnicities to rise and call for their rights.
2. The animosity of some of these governments to the Shi’a of Iraq.
3. The animosity of some of the other ones to the Kurds, who gained in the new Iraq their national rights such as federalism and a safe and prosperous region.
4. Some governments’ animosity to and fear of the establishment of a stable, democratic, united and independent Iraq, which will lead to a big change in the unjust balances and equations of power that are prevalent in the region.
This terrorist gang tried to create an ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq, but it failed miserably in creating an ethnic conflict. The Arab-Kurdish relations became stronger and the Arab people in Baghdad and Salah-al-Din welcomed the Kurdish units of the Iraqi army.
Many units of the republican guards have provided peace and security in the Sunni Arab areas of Baghdad.
In so far as the sectarian conflict is concerned, it was combated by the conscious clergymen of the Sunnis and also the wise Shi’a Marji’yah (source of religious emulation) under the leadership of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The Shi’a and Sunni clergymen have formed an alliance to avert the sectarian sedition that caused the killing of innocent civilians from one sect in revenge for killings from the other.
All of this has prevented sectarian sedition and the good people of Shi’a and Sunnis are heading towards strengthening their unity and unifying their ranks to strengthen national unity and fight terrorism.
Despite the mistakes, shortcomings and not achieving total victory over terrorism, we have achieved many successes in the political, cultural, reconstruction and economical and other fields.
In the political field, our government under the leadership of Dr Nuri al-Maliki has headed towards national reconciliation with important steps such as putting forward a programme and organising meetings for the forces of civil society and the tribes; and also contacting armed groups that are against terrorism and are willing to contribute in the democratic process.
There has also been a recent agreement between the presidency of the republic and the presidency of the council of ministers to form a joint leadership in accordance with the constitution which states that the executive comprises the presidency of the republic and the presidency of the Council of Ministers.
This would solve the complaint of sidelining the representatives of the Sunni Arabs from exercising a leadership role in taking part in the decision-making process and in supervising the affairs of the state and in facing the challenges together and exercising the responsibilities in accordance with everyone’s constitutional specialities.
We hope to reach an agreement with the armed Iraqi opposition; to pass the oil and De-Bathification laws in a way that assures everyone that oil’s wealth is the property of all the people of Iraq and it will be distributed in accordance with the population and the need for reconstruction in the various Iraqi governorates.
In the cultural field, education has returned to schools starting from primary ones and all the way to universities - the number of which has increased. In the Iraqi Kurdistan region, there are five universities - two are under construction.
Newspapers and magazines are being printed in large numbers. Cultural and scientific clubs have increased. Many cultural gatherings and conferences are held. The new democracy has provided an atmosphere of freedom and activity in the cultural field.
The secure areas of Iraq are undergoing a vast reconstruction move. Economic life has prospered as a result of liberating the economy from the control of the state.
The private sector is active in many fields. Salaries of millions have increased by 100-200 times. Many factories have returned to production and the government is trying to reactivate the other ones as well.
Dear comrades and friends,
We hope that Socialist International helps us through these difficult times and problems that we face. We expect your help and that of your governments in:
1. Combating terrorism that has become a danger on us all and an international plague.
2. Informing your parties and your people of the real situation in Iraq and explaining the positive aspects as well as the negative ones without concentrating on the latter one alone.
3. Encouraging the socialist-led governments to write-off their debts to Iraq, so that they become an example for other governments to follow.
4. Encouraging companies and business people to invest in Iraq starting from the safer areas and then throughout Iraq.
5. Providing moral and media support for the united, democratic and federal Iraq.
6. Sending fact-finding delegations to Iraq in order to give us your comradely feedback.
7. Asking the states in the region to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq, respect its national independence and sovereignty and also its national unity; this in addition to stopping the facilitation and financial help for the terrorists.
Thank you for your attention.