Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Iraq (via VTC)

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 26, 2020


Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Special Representative, for your briefing today. You and your team continue to distinguish yourselves, despite the constraints that this pandemic has imposed on your work.

Today, I’ll focus our remarks on just a few key points. I am pleased to report that last week’s U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue was a great success. That the United States hosted such a logistically complex in-person, strategic dialogue in the midst of a pandemic speaks to our commitment to a stable, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq. That Prime Minister Kadhimi, along with his ministers of foreign affairs, finance, defense, electricity, and oil, led such a delegation speaks to Iraq’s good-faith efforts to meet the needs of its people and embrace the international community.

During their meeting at the White House, President Trump and Prime Minister Kadhimi reaffirmed that the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq is based on a mutual desire for security and prosperity. We continue to work in close coordination to ensure ISIS is rendered incapable of posing a threat to Iraq or any other nation, including by holding it to account for the atrocities it perpetrated. We are committed to long-term security cooperation to build Iraq’s military capability and address threats to our shared interests.

The United States is committed to Iraq’s economic development as well. By the end of last week’s strategic dialogue, the United States and Iraq had signed nine memoranda of understanding codifying bilateral cooperation in health, economic reform, private-sector investment, trade, and energy. Five of these memoranda were with U.S. companies, to help Iraq develop its energy sector.

Moreover, the United States announced nearly $204 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Iraq, Iraqi refugees in the region, and the generous communities that are hosting them. This funding brings the total for the U.S. humanitarian response for Iraq to more than $706 million since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2019, and more than $2.4 billion in both humanitarian and development assistance since 2014. This assistance will provide critical shelter, essential healthcare, emergency food assistance, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services across Iraq, and continues to support the return of displaced persons, including ethnic and religious minorities. It will also improve access to civil documentation and legal services, enhance the capacity of health care facilities, and increase access to education and improved livelihood opportunities.

We welcome the prime minister’s July 31 announcement of early parliamentary elections, it is an important step in addressing the Iraqi people’s demand for a responsive and representative government. The Security Council recognized the critical role that UNAMI plays in assisting the Government of Iraq in its election preparations by enhancing electoral assistance language in UNAMI’s mandate renewal this past May.

I call upon the UN and all member states to ensure that UNAMI has the resources necessary to foster credible, free and fair Iraq-led and Iraq-owned elections.

As a demonstration of support for Iraq’s democratic process, the Trump Administration announced plans to fund UNAMI’s electoral-support activities. We plan to announce $10 million dollars in funding, subject to Congressional notification, through a voluntary contribution routed through the United Nations Development Program. This grant will bolster Iraqi efforts to hold free and fair elections, and we expect will include activities to support Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission and enhance voter engagement. Once again, we implore Iraq’s other international partners to follow suit and provide voluntary contributions to support UNAMI’s invaluable work in helping Iraq prepare for elections.

I also want to reiterate my government’s outrage at the killing of peaceful protesters, civil society activists, and members of the media. To date, more than 600 have been killed and thousands injured. The Government of Iraq must bring those responsible for the killings to justice.

As Secretary Pompeo made clear during the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, the United States is committed to helping Iraq achieve economic prosperity and freedom from foreign meddling in its internal affairs and through support for local militias. This includes malign influence and activity from Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran’s actions in Iraq, and elsewhere in the region, show that it is not interested in being a responsible member of the international community. Instead, Iran wants to sow chaos and mistrust across the region. And as we have said many times, the United States will not allow that to happen. That is why we have taken action to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran. Iran must never gain access to more modern weaponry to threaten its neighbors or the region.

A stable, prosperous, and independent Iraq is what the Iraqi people want – an Iraq which is for the Iraqi people. Iraqi protestors could not have made that any more clear, and the United States stands with them to make it a reality.

Thank you, Mr. President.