Lukman Faily: Iraq seeks strong, enduring partnership with United States
SAN JOSE -- For Americans who have sacrificed so much blood and treasure in Iraq, recent headlines from the Middle East must be disheartening.
There have been terrorist attacks in Iraq, upheaval in Egypt, threats that temporarily closed American embassies throughout the region and the pending intervention in Syria.
These events demonstrate that violence and disorder are regional, not national problems, though each has unique characteristics. In Iraq, we suffer not from civil war but from terrorism. Combating terrorism is a vital U.S. interest, and we are enormously grateful for all that America has done to help free my country from terrorism and tyranny.
As I traveled across California last week, I marveled at the greatness of your cities, the power of your innovation and entrepreneurship, the brilliance of your schools and research centers. It vividly illustrated why Iraq yearns so deeply for a stronger partnership with America.
America has no more committed Middle East partner than Iraq. We should recognize this by fully implementing the Strategic Framework Agreement that our two countries signed before the withdrawal of American forces in 2011, which defines the overall political, economic, cultural and security ties between Iraq and the United States. This would facilitate the delivery of promised military sales, as well as U.S. assistance in countering terrorism and equipping and training our security forces.
Iraqis are committed to coexistence among ourselves and with our neighbors. We have a government of national unity, with all communities participating. In the heart of the Middle East, our democracy is thriving and we are moving in the right direction.
Our economy is also on the move, offering new opportunities for U.S. partners. We have one of the world's fastest-growing economies, expanding by 9.6 percent in 2011, 10.5 percent in 2012, and an estimated 8.2 percent this year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Oil production has increased by 50 percent since 2005 and is poised to double by the decade of 2030.
As we move toward a market economy, Iraq offers Americans tremendous investment opportunities for developing and servicing schools, bridges and highways, health care, water treatment, telecommunications and more.
Yes, we continue to confront bouts of horrific violence. This results not from sectarian strife but from terrorism, committed by organizations working together across porous boundaries, including al-Qaida in Iraq, al-Nusra in Syria and other affiliates flourishing in the turbulent environment. We need help to stabilize our country and ensure security for all our people.
We need American know-how, not boots on the ground. The United States has vast experience in combating al-Qaida through technology, intelligence and counterterrorism techniques. We can benefit from this expertise and forge a closer partnership with U.S. security forces.
On the diplomatic front, Iraq can serve as a bridge between the United States and our neighbors. As the first nation in our neighborhood to abandon weapons of mass destruction as stipulated in our constitution, Iraq can credibly call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
We are participating in the search for a political solution in Syria that will reduce the violence and diminish the role of extremists. For Americans, Syria is more than 5,000 miles away. For Iraqis, Syria is right on our doorstep, requiring pragmatic solutions.
Americans have made tremendous sacrifices, and they were not in vain. By working together, the U.S. and Iraq can build a future with less violence, more prosperity, greater security and deeper democracy across the Middle East.
Lukman Faily is Iraq's ambassador to the United States. He wrote this for this newspaper