Iraq & America: A Strategic Partnership

Dr. Jawad Hashim discussed Iraq and America’s strategic relationship during a keynote/lecture at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. In his keynote address, Dr. Hashim began with a short historical timeline of Iraq, after which he provided basic information about the structure of Iraq’s population, followed by a short description of what did Saddam do to Iraq. Then Hashim looked at the liberated Iraq and its future strategic relationship with the United States of America.

Iraq & America: A Strategic Partnership


 

Preamble (March 2011)

Ladies & Gentlemen…

It is an honor to be invited to address this distinguished audience in this formidable facility at which many brave young men and women, who participated in the liberation of Iraq, are treated.

Iraq is entering its eighth year since the United States’ liberation of the country. Many things have changed in that time-period: From the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime; to the quasi-civil war that erupted; to the surge; and to the reduction of American combat operations and phasing into stabilization operation.

On November 26th, 2007, the President of the United States George W. Bush and the Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Al-Malaki signed the Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America.

One year later, on November 17th, 2008, the two countries translated this declaration into a treaty of partnership between the two countries, titled: Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq (SFA).

The SFA envisions a long-term relationship of cooperation between two fully sovereign and independent states with common interests. It is specifically stated that “this relationship will serve the interest of coming generations based on the heroic sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and the American people for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic , federal, and united Iraq.” There are a range of issues envisioned in the Agreement for the friendship and cooperation between Iraq and America which I will outline in my address today. However, at the outset, I must emphasize two points:

First, that any assessment of Iraq’s political future must start by acknowledging that the war to liberate Iraq from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein was a just war.

Second, that any discussion of Iraq must begin with an understanding of where Iraq was before April 9th 2003 ̶ the day of its liberation. Iraq of Saddam Hussein was not a peaceful democracy nor a country of social justice and tolerance. Iraq of Saddam Hussein was not a country where governments succeeded each other peacefully through the ballot-box. Iraq of Saddam Hussein, ladies & gentlemen, was a country occupied by the fascist idea of Ba’athism ̶ a country in which the regime was at war with the people ̶ a regime that was at war with its neighbors and the world. Iraq was not tranquil. It was a dystopia governed by a genocidal dictatorship; it was a cemetery below ground and a concentration camp above.

In my address today, I will begin with a short historical timeline of Iraq, after which I will provide basic information about the structure of Iraq’s population, followed by a short description of what did Saddam do to Iraq. Then I will look at the liberated Iraq and its future strategic relationship with the United States of America.


 

Iraq’s Historical Timeline

 Year Event
 1533 — 1917
  • Iraq is conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
 1917
  •  British occupation of Iraq.
 1921
  • British government installs Prince Faisal (a non-Iraqi) as King of Iraq.
1932 
  • Iraq is declared an independent kingdom and admitted to the League of Nations.
 1958 (July)
  • The army leads a coup in which the monarchy is overthrown.
  • The Royal family is killed and Iraq is declared as a Republic.
 1963 (February)
  • The Ba’ath Party, with help from few military elements, stages a coup and gain control of Iraq.
 1963 (November)
  • The Ba’ath Party is overthrown by a military coup.
 1968 (July)
  • The Ba’ath Party stages yet another coup and gains control of Iraq.
  • Saddam Hussein becomes Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).
 1979 (July)
  • Saddam Hussein becomes President of Iraq.
  • Within thirty (30) days, Saddam executes some 400 high-ranking members of the Ba’ath Party.
  • The reign of terror begins.
 1980 (September)
  • Iraq invades Iran.
  • The war lasts eight (8) years. 
1988 (August) 
  • Iraq signs ceasefire agreement with Iran.
  • At the same time, Saddam’s army attacks the Kurdish area of Iraq using chemical weapons.
1990 (August) 
  • Saddam’s regime invades Kuwait.
  • U.N. Security Council imposes numerous sanctions resolutions against Iraq.
1991 (February) 
  • Allied forces drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
2003 (March) 
  • United States and Britain commence military activities for the liberation of Iraq.
2003 (April 9th) 
  • The liberation of Iraq and the end of Ba’athist Regime.

 

Political Map of Iraq


 

IRAQ & AMERICA: A Strategic Partnership

Introduction

Iraq, the land of Hammurabi and Haroun Al-Rashid, has played a long and unique role in the history of human civilization. The oldest civilization known to humankind evolved on the shore of its twin rivers: The Tigris and the Euphrates. The great cities of antiquity —Ur, Akkad-Babylon, Basra, Mosul and Baghdad— were major centers of high culture and political power for much of the course of human history.(1)

 

 

 

 

In modern times, Iraq is strategically positioned between major regional players with whom it has the following borders:

 

Country Length of Border (km) 

Iran

Turkey

Kuwait

Saudi Arabia

Jordan

Syria

1458

352

240

814

181

605

 Iraq’s total area is
Land constitutes
Water constitutes 
438,317-sq/km
437,367-sq/km
950-sq/km 

 

Population of Iraq

The demographics of contemporary Iraq reflect the mosaic nature of the country. The country’s 30 million people comprises a wide diversity of religiouscand ethnic groups. The Arabs make up 75-80%. The Kurds 15-20%. And the Turkomans, Assyrians and others 5%.

Religion further divides the population.

While 95% of Iraqis practice Islam, the majority (60-65%) of Iraqi Arabs belong to the Shia tradition.

While the majority of Iraqi Muslims are Shiite, the Sunni arab minority (until the fall of Saddam’s regime in April 2003) were in control of the country through the army, economic wealth and other instruments of power.

The Sunni dominance goes back to the Ottoman period. Thus, from 1920 until April 2003, that is 83 years (or 996 months), Iraq had about 65 Cabinets headed by Sunni prime ministers, except in six times were the prime ministers being Shiite for a total of 33 months out 996 months. At all times 90% of each Cabinet ministers were Sunnis and 10% shiites. Since the liberation of Iraq, the Prime Minister is Shiite, but at least 40% of the cabinet members are Sunni.


 

Iraq Until the Early 1980’s — Prior to Saddam’s Absolute Rule

Iraq, until early 1980, was one of the more prosperous and advanced of the Arab countries with a substantial middle-class, considerable technical capacity, high female participation in education and economy, and relatively high-standards overall in education and health-care.(2)

By 1980, Iraq’s per capita income was $4,000; Iraqi Dinar (ID)currency exchange-rate versus US$ was US$3.5 to one ID; foreign-exchange reserves US$35 billion; inflation-rate less than 6% per annum; primary school enrollment 100%; secondary school enrollment more than 57%; life expectancy 67 years; and Iraq was free of foreign debt.


 

Iraq Under Saddam, 1970 — 2003

In July 1979, Saddam Hussein became the President of Iraq. By August 1979, he began a pattern of ruthless manipulation and extermination. This pattern continued until the fall of his regime on April 9, 2003.

For quarter of a century, Saddam adopted a unique and unparalleled model of power which glorified terror. Three decades of strict control had affected Iraqi culture. Iraqis were systematically bombarded with state-crafted defunct culture and fabricated propaganda.

In December 2009 at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), I provided a long list of Saddam’s litany of destruction. Today I do not intend to bore you with that long list but recite only few:

  1. Saddam’s wars with Iran and invasion of Kuwait resulted in one million Iraqis killed, 800,000 widows, and 5-million orphans.
  2. In 1980, the GDP was US$53.9 billion falling to US$26.9 billion in 1989, and further falling to a mere US$6.9 billion in 1994.
  3. In 1980, per capita income was over US$4,000 falling to US$1,500 in 1989, and to US$350 in 1996. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the per capita income fluctuated between US$448 to US$644 from 1996–2002.(3)
  4. In 1980, Iraq had US$35 billion in foreign-exchange reserves. By 1987, this reserve had fallen to US$2 billion.
  5. In 1970, the official rate of exchange was US$3.5 per one Iraqi Dinar (ID). By December 1995, the rate reached as low as 2660ID to one US Dollar. By the fall of Saddam, the rate was in the region of 3000ID to one US Dollar!
  6. Prior to Saddam’s war adventures, Iraq had been free of foreign debt. By the fall of his regime, Iraq’s foreign debt was estimated to exceed US$108 billion.
  7. In 1980,primary school enrollment rate of the relevant age-group was 100%. By 1998, the rate had fallen to 88%.
  8. In 1980, secondary school enrollment was 57%, declining year after year to 20% in 1998.
  9. In 1980, mortality rate for children under 5 years of age was 90 per thousand. In the year 2000, the rate was 121.
  10. Until 1980, Iraq had life-expectancy of 67 years but had fallen to 61 years by the year 2000.

 

The Liberated Iraq — 2003 & Beyond

When the Saddam regime fell on April 9, 2003, the liberators encountered immense difficulties in their attempt to begin rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructures, economic and social institutions, and the creation of business environment that would attract capital, technology and skills to modernize the shattered country.

Under the auspices of the United States, immediate shock-therapy programs were implemented.    These included:

  • Promulgation of market friendly legislations to encourage private investments;

  • Foreign banks were permitted to establish operations and purchase equity shares in existing Iraqi banks;

  • Income and corporate taxes were capped at 15%;

  • Tariffs were reduced to a universal 5% with none on food, medicines, books and humanitarian imports; and

  • Changing the Iraqi currency and taking the necessary measures for the ID appreciations.

Between 2003 and 2011, Iraq, with financial and technical support of the United States made impressive progress in political, economic and social fields. Here are few indicators of progress:

  1. In the year 2000, GDP was US$25.9 billion. In 2006, GDP rose to US$49.5 billion. And in 2009 it reached US$119.00 billion. The IMF and IBRD expect Iraq’s GDP to reach US$132.0 billion in 2013 — an increase of 510% compared with GDP in 2000.

  2. Per capita income which was below US$650 in 2002 jumped to US$3,100 in 2008, and, according to IMF and IBRD, will exceed US$4,000 in the year 2013.(4)

  3. The exchange-rate of Iraqi Dinar versus US$, which revolved around 2600–3000 ID per one US$, became 1,467 in 2006 and 1,170 in 2010.

  4. The consumer price inflation rate which exceeded 2000% in the year 2000 is reduced to less than 4% in 2010.

  5. Until April 2003, no mobile phones, internet access or satellite televisions ever existed in Iraq. Now every Iraqi has access to these communication/media channels.

  6. Billions of dollars were spent on repairing schools, medical centers, roads, oil facilities, ports, airports and other infrastructures.

  7. Permanent constitution and freely-elected members of Parliament.

  8. Between 2003 and 2006, U.S. grant assistance for Iraq’s reconstruction totaled US$30 billion. This figure (adjusted for inflation) is double what the U.S. spent in Japan from 1946–1952 and equivalent to the amount spent in Germany during the same period 1946–1952.(5)

 

In a nutshell…

  • Iraq of today is a more open society.

  • Iraqis are no longer afraid to say what they think. Where once there were only whispers, a cacophony of shouted curses now assaults political leaders.

  • Iraq is also much more open to the world.

  • Travel is unrestricted.

  • Imports are plentiful.

  • Internet connections/users (access to information) have gone up from 4,500 to more than 10 million.

  • The number of mobile-phone users has risen from 80,000 to more than 25 million.

  • Politics became the main forum for disputes. Dialogue has replaced violence as the main way groups in the country resolve their issues or problems.

  • Iraq is NOT a failed state as it once was described in the media. It has gained back its sovereignty and domestic standing, and the struggle for political power through peaceful means is now paramount.


 

Iraq’s Natural Resources

  • Oil is the most salient feature of the Iraqi economy. Iraq holds the potential to become the world’s largest oil producer. According to an outdated (40-years-old) US Geological Survey (USGS), Iraq holds the world’s second largest proven reserves estimated to range between 115–129 billion barrels. According to petroleum experts, Iraq’s actual proven oil reserves is 350 billion barrels and an additional probable reserves of 220 billion barrels.(6)
  • Iraq also contains 110 trillion cubic-feet of proven natural gas reserves and about 150 trillion cubic-feet in probable reserves.

However, for Iraq to become a super-giant oil producer and exporter of oil, the industry would require large financial investments in technical services, capital equipments, and infrastructures. This is one of the great challenges facing the new Iraq. But it is a challenge which could easily be met.

Recently, Iraq has signed several contracts with international oil companies to upgrade its oil facilities and to increase its production capacity to more than 12 million b/d by 2020.

What makes Iraq’s oil attractive is its low costs of production which is the lowest in the world. Average investment cost (including drilling) is about US$1 per cumulative barrel, and average operating cost is estimated at about US$1.50 per produced barrel.(7)  Modernization of the oil sector has began since 2003, and as of March 2009 the United States had allocated more than US$2 billion to further enhance the modernization process.(8)


 

Iraq & Its Neighbours

The year 2011 is a turning-point and a very important year in the history of Iraq and in the history of its relationship with the western world in general and with the United States in particular. In March 2010, Iraq came out of very important elections, described by the U.N. and all international observers as being unique, fair and transparent.

There is no doubt the future of Iraq will affect the way the Middle East and the Arab world in particular evolve in the next decade and beyond. Iraq of future will be tested by a combination of security, political and economic challenges.

There are, however, many fundamental challenges to overcome. One of these challenges is dealing with Iraq’s difficult neighbors, mainly:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Iran
  • Turkey

 


The Neighbours

As a country with Shiites and Kurds constituting 80% of its population, Iraq is surrounded with neighbors who are determined to strangle the democratic process and to see the instability of Iraq continue. Each one of these “neighbors” has different agenda and reasons for seeing the instability there continue, and each one of them uses different methods to influence events.(9)

 


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia (which is an enemy of any democracy) ranks at the top of enemies of Iraq. Since the liberation of Iraq in 2003, Saudi Arabia has been the supplier of the majority of suicide-bombers in Iraq. Its hostility towards post-Saddam democratic Iraq has three intertwined roots:(10)  (i) religious, (ii) political, and (iii) economic.

 
Religious…

The religious factor is reflected in the hatred of Wahabism —Saudi Arabia’s religion— towards the Shia sect of Islam. Saudi government either looked the other way or gave tacit approval to Saudi jihadis who flocked to Iraq. The U.S. considers the Saudi role to be counter-productive. U.S. officials have said that the Saudis are funding the Sunni tribal opposition. The then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, stated that:

Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries are not doing all they can to help us in Iraq. At times, some of them are not only NOT helping …they are doing things that are undermining the effort to make progress… .

In a cable dated August 2009 (from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill) to the States Department, it is stated that: 

Saudi influence in Iraq was significant, perhaps more significant than Iran’s at the moment, given the financial and media assets at its disposal. …Saudi goal (and that of most other Sunni Arab States) is to enhance Sunni influence, dilute Shia dominance and promote the formation of a weak and fractured Iraqi government… .

 

Political…

Because the Saudi ruling family is concerned that an Iraq with government representing the Shia majority, Iraq will constitute a serious source of instability in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich areas where the population is predominantly Shia and linked tribally with Shia of Southern Iraq.

 

Economic…

The economic factor, on the other hand, is Saudi Arabia’s nightmare. Saudi Arabia, for now, is the largest oil-producing country among OPEC members. Each member of OPEC is subject to quota-system of oil production. The quota is a factor of each member’s proven oil reserves. Because of its high level of proven crude oil reserves (about 264 billion barrels), Saudi Arabia at present is the dominant force in OPEC and the international oil market.

Iraq’s proven oil reserves of some 115 billion barrels was based on outdated 40- years-old geological surveys. But recent modern geological 3D seismic surveys elevate Iraq’s proven oil reserves to 350 billion barrels, thus exceeding the proven Saudi reserves.

Iraq is currently producing 2.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil. Iraq, however, will increase its crude production sharply. Recently Iraq signed few contracts to develop six giant oil fields and two natural gas fields with several international oil companies (non of them American).(11)  The contracts will gradually increase Iraq’s crude oil production to 4.5 millions b/d in the short term and to 12–14 million b/d by 2020.

Hence, a resurgent Iraq with enormous potential of proven oil reserves and aspiration to produce more than 12 million b/d of oil within the next few years could dislodge Saudi Arabia from its prominent position in OPEC and reduce its influence in the international market.

 


Syria

Syria, on the other hand, is the wild-card in regional diplomacy. And from April 2003, Syria has been the facilitator of terrorist-acts in Iraq. It considers any democratic transformation a threat to its one-party Ba’athist control.

The Syrian government continue to undercut Iraq’s security in order to bog down American forces which it feels might otherwise threaten the Syrian regime. Syria is the “hub” for the relocation of terrorist operatives to Iraq. Syrian Intelligence Service is actively training the jihadis and supervising their infiltration across the border to Iraq.

Simply put, Syria, by embracing certain elements of Iraqi Ba’athist (commonly known as the Syrian Wing) dreams to install a Ba’athist government in Iraq similar to its own brand of Ba’ath ideology.

Syrian’s attitude, however, will be affected by its relations with Israel and Iran. If Arab-Israel talks make progress, or if Iran and America achieve rapprochement, then the relation between Damascus and Baghdad will surely improve to the benefit of both sides.

 


Iran

Iran, throughout history, has been involved in Iraq’s affairs. With more than 1450 kilometers border with Iraq, border skirmishes has been recurrent events between the two countries. Iran’s interests in Iraq reflect its long-standing regional ambitions, as well as its desire to affect its ongoing dispute with the United States over nuclear technology development and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Iran seeks to ensure that Iraq can never again become a threat to Iran either with or without U.S. forces present in Iraq.

Additionally, Iran does not want to see an independent Arab Shia voice it cannot control. Iran has a historical aspiration for dominating influence in the Gulf region in competition with Iraq. It considers the presence of American forces in Iraq as a serious threat to such aspiration. For this alone, Iran would better see a failed U.S. in Iraq and consequently a failed, weak and chaotic Iraq.

 


Turkey

Turkey is not an enemy of Iraq but is agitated with the presence of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq’s Kurdistan and the Kurds’ intention towards the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, fearing precedent which benefits Iraqi Kurds. Turkey remains distinctly opposed to anything “Kurdish” in Iraq including the Kurdistan Region.

Turkey, however, cares especially about Iraqi Turkomen, their ethnic kin. The high priority that Turkey puts on Iraq’s territorial integrity stems from its desire to thwart the emergence of an independent Iraqi-Kurdish state that could serve as a model for separatist Turkish-Kurds.

Turkey, however, is exerting pressure on the Iraqi government through the control of water-flow to Iraq to the extent that the shortage of water may cause unspeakable hardship to the Iraqi people. Here, again the American administration must play a pivotal role to solve this serious problem once and for all.


 

Iraq & America: A Strategic Partnership

The Bush Administration policy for the Middle-East was summarized by Condoleezza Rice when she said:

America could not simply leave the Middle-East as it was, dominated by authoritarian figures like Saddam Hussein. …America could no longer do business with dictators; the authoritarianism must give way.

Condoleezza Rice went on to say that for sixty-years the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy in the Middle-East but achieved neither:

Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspiration of all people.

Based upon this doctrine Iraq became America’s most important project in a newly imagined and more democratic Middle-East. Despite all the difficulties encountered in post-conflict, Iraq remains a vital element of U.S. foreign policy.

The liberation of Iraq presents a serious challenge towards realizing the United States’ historical opportunity to establish an enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with a strategic state in the Middle-East.

American commitment to drawing down combat forces should not mean political disengagement. Iraq is as important to the interests of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other regional players as it is to those of the United States.

Signed in 2008 by the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq, the US– Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) provides a comprehensive blueprint for a broad long-term partnership in following fields:

  • Political & Diplomatic

  • Defense & Security

  • Cultural

  • Economic & Energy

  • Health & Environmental

  • Information Technology & Communications

  • Law Enforcement & Judicial

  • Joint Committees to monitor the overall implementation of the Agreement

In fact, SFA provides the roadmap for the future. After a long period of security- driven relationship, diplomats and private citizens in both countries will now play a more important role in advancing cooperation on matters of mutual interest, such as health, education, food security and others.

Opportunities in Iraq are plentiful for U.S. enterprising business looking to enter the Iraqi market in many sectors such as:

  • Construction & Real-Estate

  • Consumer goods tied with Healthcare & Pharmaceutical

  • Chemical

  • Agriculture & Agribusiness

However, for the purpose of my address today, I would like to emphasize the importance of cooperation in two fields:  Health and Education.

 


Health

There is no doubt that a primary pillar to achieving strategic aims in Iraq is through the establishment of a functional healthcare system. Healthcare is an elemental component of basic human-needs and should be accessible, affordable and capable.

Healthcare is one of the most critical components to ensuring a reduction of diseases which in turn will have an immense long-term positive impact.

Following combat operations and phasing into stabilization operation, basic healthcare infrastructure and systems have often been either disrupted or degraded altogether. To address this situation, the U.S. government requires a coordinated interagency approach to formulate a strategic healthcare plan for Iraq.

Section-VI of SFA deals with Iraq-U.S. cooperation in the fields of healthcare and environment. In order to improve the health of the citizens of Iraq, as well as to protect and improve the extraordinary natural environment of the historic lands of the two rivers, the United States and Iraq have agreed to cooperate to:

  1. Support and strengthen Iraq’s efforts to build its health infrastructure and to strengthen health systems and networks.
  2. Support Iraq’s efforts to train health and medical cadres and staff.
  3. Maintain dialogue on health policy issues to support Iraq’s long-term development. Topics may include controlling the spread of infectious diseases, preventative and mental health, tertiary care, and increasing the efficiency of Iraq’s medicine procurement system.
  4. Encourage Iraqi and international investment in the health field, and facilitate specialized professional exchanges in order to promote the transfer of expertise and to help foster relationships between medical and health institutions by building on existing programs with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including its Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
  5. Encourage Iraqi efforts to strengthen mechanisms for protecting, preserving, improving, and developing the Iraqi environment and encouraging regional and international environmental cooperation.

As I understand, significant improvement has been accomplished due to important initiative by both U.S. and Iraq’s Ministry of Defense (MoD).  A memorandum of agreement has been signed by three Iraqi ministers (Minister of Defense, Minister of Health, and Minister of Peshmerga), sponsored by the Iraqi Surgeon General and the U.S. Forces- Iraq, to implement an electronic medical records system (World VistA) — essentially the same system used in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) medical facilities.

I am glad to see that one of these efforts of cooperation in the field of healthcare has already commenced between Iraq’s Ministry of Defense and Walter Reed Army Institute or Research (WRAIR). From January 4th to February 14th, 2011, six Iraqi healthcare providers attended a rigorous training program at WRAIR and WRAMC. This is the beginning of a long lasting cooperation in this important field: healthcare.

However, because of the Iraqi healthcare system has suffered major deterioration in the past, the road ahead calls upon both parties (Iraq and United States) to forge a long- term partnership in the healthcare sector and draw a ten-year plan to modernize and enhance Iraq’s healthcare infrastructure, both in the military and in civilian sectors.

To address this requirement, it is important for both governments to start a coordinated interagency approach to formulate a short, medium and long-term strategic healthcare plan, incorporating all relevant players into a sound, organized and unified efforts for achieving the goals of good healthcare system in Iraq as envisioned in Section-VI of SFA.

 


Education

Education is one of the areas in which the United States and Iraq can have a sustainable partnership. Section-IV of SFA deals with cultural cooperation between Iraq and the United States. According to SFA, both countries Iraq and U.S. do share the conviction that connection between their citizens, forged through cultural exchanges and educational links, will build strong, long-lasting bonds of friendship and mutual respect. Thus, I would urge the authorities in both countries to come up with a ten-year plan, detailing the implementation phases of the principles envisioned in Section-IV of SFA:

  • To promote cultural and social exchanges.
  • To promote and facilitate cooperation and coordination in the field of higher education and scientific research.
  • To encourage investment in education, including the establishment of universities and affiliations between Iraqi and American social and academic institutions.
  • To strengthen the development of Iraq’s future leaders, through exchanges, training programs and fellowships –– such as the Fulbright programs and the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP)–– in fields including science, engineering, medicine, information technology, telecommunications, public administration, and strategic planning.

As I understand, the government of Iraq launched an ambitious program aimed at sending up to 10,000 students abroad per year through scholarships, particularly to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Hence, it is important to facilitate the application process for U.S. visas to speed-up and enhance the participation of qualified Iraqi individuals in this ambitious Iraqi scholarship program.


 

Ladies & Gentlemen

The importance of a strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq is in the national interests of both countries. This importance was recently emphasized by Ambassador James Jeffrey (U.S. ambassador in Iraq) in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 1st, 2011:

  • A stable Iraq will play a critical role in achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Middle-East for the foreseeable future.
  • Iraq strategic importance is based on a number of factors. Iraq plays a central role in the Arab and Muslim world and hosts Islam’s Shia holiest sites.
  • Iraq has a diverse, multi-sectarian and multi-ethnic population.
  • Iraq is endowed with a significant portion of the world’s oil reserves, thus enabling Iraq to play an increasingly influential role in the global economy.
  • Since the United States has important national interests in the greater Middle-East, an enduring Iraq-U.S. partnership will be critical in enabling Iraq to be the force for stability and moderation in the troubled region of the Middle-East.

Footnotes…

(1) See: Historical Dictionary of Iraq; by Edmund A. Ghareeb.

(2) See: Iraq’s Economy: Past, Present, Future; June 3, 2003; Report For Congress; code RL 31944.

(3) EIU; Country Profile: Iraq, 2002/2003; July 2002. However, we must note that with wealth being concentrated in the hands of Saddam’s cronies, most Iraqis probably subsisted on a much smaller figure than the average would suggest.

(4) The projected figures for 2013 are based on conservative assumptions for oil market price at US$50 per barrel.

(5) See: Center For American Progress: Progress in Iraq; July 25, 2006.

(6) The additional 220 billion barrels is based on a study by the Center For Global Energy Studies (CGES); MEES, VOL. XLVI, NO.12; March 24, 2003.

(7) Investment cost (capital) is total cost needed for drilling, production installation, transportation and loading oil in tankers. Operating cost is the running cost of an operation to make the oil available for shipment (e.g., maintenance, consumables, general and administrative).

(8) According to independent international studies, the cluster of super-giant oil fields of southern Iraq forms the largest known concentration of such fields in the world and accounts for 70-80% of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. See: Energy Information Administration (EIA); Department of Energy; USA Gov; http://www.eia.doe.gov

(9) See: For more details and analysis, see: Accepting Realities in Iraq; The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chtham House); Briefing Paper; May 2007. Also see: The Future of Iraq: Democracy, Civil War, or Chaos?; by Michael Rubin; Middle East Review of International Affairs; September 2005.

(10) See: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli; “Saudi Concerns About Iraq Oil (Revisited);” MEMRI; Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 537; December 14, 2009; http://www.memri.org/report/en/print3836.htm

(11) The companies are: British Petroleum (BP); China National Petroleum Company (CNPC); Eni- Sinopec-OXY-Kogas; Lukoil (Russia); Statoil (Norway); Royal Dutch Shell; Petromas (Malaysia); a consortium of CNPC (CHina) + Total (France) and Petromas.


Bibliography…

BBC News Online. Country Profile: Iraq. July 28, 2009.
[URL http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/791014.stm]

Bundt, Thomas S., Lieutenant Colonel. Synchronizing U.S. Government Efforts toward Collaborative Health Care Policymaking in Iraq. (SSI) Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College. March 26, 2010.

Center For American Progress. Progress In Iraq. July 25, 2006.

Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). A Wise Peace: An Action Strategy For Post-Conflict Iraq. Supplemental One; Background Information On Iraq Financial Obligation. January 23, 2003.

Cordesman, Anthony and Hashim, A. S.. Iraq: Sanctions & Beyond. (Boulder, CO; Westview Press, 1997).

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Country Profile: Iraq, 2003/2004. July 2002.

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). September 2010.

Energy Information Administration (EIA). Department Of Energy; USA Government.
[URL http://www.eia.doe.gov/]

Hashim, Jawad. Reconstruction of Iraq — Post Saddam Hussein. Paper presented to The Spring Conference of the Atlantic Council of Canada; and The Royal Canadian Military Institute (RCMI). May 2003.

IBRD; International Development Association (IDA); International Financial Corporation (IFC). Interim Strategy Note For The Republic of Iraq For the Period Mix FY09-FY11. February 19, 2009. Report No. 47304-1Q.

International Bank For Reconstruction & Development (IBRD). Iraq: Country Brief. June 2009.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). Program Note on Iraq. July 22, 2009.

Iraq’s Economy: Past, Present, Future. Report For Congress. June 3, 2003. Code RL31944.

Laipson, Ellen and Steinbruner, Maureen S.. Future of US-Iraq Relation, The. The Henry Stimson Center. May 14, 2010.

Laipson, Ellen and Steinbruner, Maureen S.. Iraq and America: Choices & Consequences. The Henry Stimson Center. July 2006.

Library of Congress — Federal Division; Country Profile — Iraq. August 2006.

Mockaitis, Thomas R.. The Iraq War: Learning from the Past, Adapting to the Present, and Planning for the Future. (SSI) Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College. February 2007.

MEES. Vol. XLVI, No. 12. March 24, 2003.

Probe Links Syria, Terror Network. The Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2004.

Rotella, Sebastian. A Road To Anbar Began in Italy. The Los Angeles Times. April 28, 2003.

Rubin, Michael. The Future of Iraq: Democracy, Civil War or Chaos. Middle-East Review of International Affairs. September 2005.

The Economist. The World in 2011.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). Accepting Realities In IraqBriefing Paper; May 2007.

United Nations / World Bank. Joint Iraq Needs Assessment. October 2003.