Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Barham Salih, speaks at RUSI on his country’s recent past and future prospects. Five years from now, he predicts, Iraq will be a dynamic, democratic and economically vibrant presence in the heart of the Middle East.
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The last five years, Dr Barham Salih acknowledged, ‘have been extremely difficult, painful and truly frustrating for Iraqis and their friends’. Progress has, however been made.
‘That progress is tangible, undeniable and should not be underestimated.’
Dr Salih surveyed the changing security dynamics in the country, noting particularly the transformation effected in Anbar province.
‘What happened in Al-Anbar is instructive, not just in the context of Iraq but in terms of the larger battle against Islamic extremism and terrorism.’
The deputy prime minister warned, however, that whilst the security situation has dramatically improved, ‘unless we resolve the fundamental political problems afflicting our society, these improvements cannot last.’
If progress is made in tackling those issues, the outlook, he argued, is very promising indeed.
‘Iraq’s vast resources and needs combine turn the country into an amazing economic opportunity, for the people of Iraq, for the region, and for the international community at large’.
‘Iraq just a while ago was seen as a problem’, Dr Salih concluded, ‘but I am emphatic that Iraq now represents an opportunity.’