New and Significant Challenges in Iraq

  • 2 July 2009


Day before yesterday, Iraq took a major step on the road to regaining full sovereignty over its land after the withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi cities following six years of occupation. Although this step has spread a feeling of joy at the official and popular levels, it has exposed Iraq and all its political and religious parties as well as official institutions to huge political and security challenges of the future. This fact even forced US President Barack Obama to warn of “difficult days” ahead, although he described the withdrawal of forces as an important undertaking. The security aspect represents a main challenge for Iraq in light of a noticeable increase in terrorist activities in the recent past, as radical forces are seeking to prove the incapability of Iraqi forces in ensuring security after the withdrawal of the US forces. It was noticeable that on the very day of a troop withdrawal a car exploded in Kirkuk that killed 32 people and injured 80 others. This was a clear message that terrorist movements would resume their activities in coming times, in order to stake the claim that their actions for US troops to leave the cities.

The important point in this context is that the withdrawal from Iraqi cities is a prelude to the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. For this reason, it is an important that in the interim period Iraqis prove that they are capable of managing their own affairs. This is because it is a prelude for Iraq to regain its full and complete sovereignty.  This success will not be possible without the will for reconciliation, cooperation and joint enterprise in order to confront the difficult challenges that the country is facing. Iraqis have the right to feel elated over the withdrawal of US forces from the cities. However, this joyousness should not obscure them from the great responsibilities that await them after the event. These responsibilities cannot be met without achieving national reconciliation that poses a strong barrier in the face of any attempts to cause disturbance or provoke sectarian and racial conflicts.

Iraq has entered a new and important stage of sovereignty in its modern history, in which it needs strong Arab support for overcoming the problems and challenges. Foreign Minister, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is mindful of the fact and expressed the same while stating the position of the UAE on Iraq. He announced that the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, (may Allah protect him) has issued instructions for the annulment of all outstanding Iraqi debt to the UAE. He also announced the return of the UAE ambassador to Baghdad. There is a perceptible Arab openness to Iraq, as illustrated by many events in the recent past. This provides an important framework for providing Arab support to Iraq in the delicate stage it entered last Tuesday, the date of the US withdrawal from Iraqi cities.