Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, October 26, 2007

Brookings Institution hosts discussion with Iraqi Deputy P.M.

The Brooking Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Post Policy hosted a conversation with Barham Salih, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, for a full audience Monday.

The Prime Minister began with a brief overview of the economic, political and social components of the Iraq conflict. He was quick to emphasize that the country is in a state of “deep transition,” with a struggle underway over power and resources. For this reason he cautioned against the tendency of Western nations to demand instant results and progress.

In terms of security, Salih believes the dynamics have changed for the better, citing the many communities in provinces like violence-plagued Anbar that are staunchly opposed to al-Qaeda, along with the enhanced capabilities of Iraqi security forces.

Shifting to economic gains, Salih said that the rate of budget execution has increased two-fold and that a once-exorbitant inflation rate has been reduced to a manageable level. Unemployment rates have also fallen by 19 percent, he said.

Salih also highlighted the increase in construction, thanks to budgets being allocated directly to the provinces based on population. In his view, provincial leaders are not as susceptible to corruption, security concerns and bureaucratic measures of the central government, and are therefore better able to expedite projects.

Salih regrets that such gains are not matched in the political arena. “We must do the politics right,” he proclaimed. He also warned that all other gains could be squandered and potentially reversed if the country’s political will is not sustained. And although Iraqis are growing weary of the violence, he remains convinced that an inclusive, non-centralized political framework will sustain security.

The question and answer session was dominated by discussion of diplomatic relations with Turkey, given the growing PKK issue.

While the Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of the government, condemned the violent actions of separatist groups on both sides, he was quick to comment that Iraq cannot be expected to dedicate all of its energy to remedy this single conflict.

Salih concluded by emphasizing the slow, but steady, progress of the “bottom-up” approach to governance, with all communities as legitimate stakeholders in the new political process. The Prime Minister believes that success in Iraq, while difficult, is indeed possible.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home