Interview: Though still largely muddled, Iraq stands ready to embrace post-U.S. era

08:09, November 04, 2010      

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Fractious politics and withdrawal of the U.S. troops continue to nourish international skepticism on Iraq's chances for stability, but according to an Iraqi official, prospects for the war-ravaged country aren't all that gloomy.

"Iraq is ready for the withdrawal, ... it will help create stability," Hamid Al-Bayati, ambassador of Iraq to the United Nations, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Delays in forming a government as a result of indecisive parliamentary elections held in the country in March 2010 only proves that "Iraqis are independent of foreign influence," Al- Bayati said.

"Iraqis listen to everybody in the region, but they are taking decisions themselves," he said.

The drawdawn of the U.S. forces in Iraq will "deprive terrorists, al-Qaeda and the remnants of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein from their pretext that Iraq is occupied by American forces," the Iraqi ambassador said, and he voiced his support for the timetable agreed upon by the two countries that is linked to ending the American combat mission.

The first style offensive policy that Saddam utilized against neighboring countries "took us nowhere," Al-Bayati said, and urged to solve the problems in the region through peaceful means and negotiations rather than a war.

Retracting U.S. forces in Iraq doesn't imply relations with the States are on the back burner, Al-Bayati explained. "The majority of the Iraqi leaders believe we should have long term strategic relationships with the U.S.," he said, and referred to a strategic framework agreement affirming relations, friendship and cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq which was signed by the Iraqi government in 2008.

"Iraq and the U.S. are going to be a strong alliance for the future," the Iraqi ambassador said.

Earlier this month, Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went on a journey to neighboring Iran, Egypt, Syria and Turkey to rally political support and bolster economic relations.

The trade balance between Turkey and Iraq currently equals 7 to 8 million U.S. dollars a year. Iraq wants this to climb to 20 million U.S. dollars a year and further boost its partnership with Turkey, Al-Bayati said.

Addressing a news conference in Egyptian capital Cairo, the visiting Iraqi prime minister encouraged Egyptian companies to get more involved in reconstructing Iraq.

Iran currently holds the position of being Iraq's biggest trading partner, having a trade balance that is now 10 times bigger than in 2003. Trade revenues peaked at four billion U.S. dollars in 2009 and are expected to double this at the end of this year, reports said.

It is reported that the Al-Malaki is offering Arab states investment deals if they nudge his rival, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, toward accepting his leadership. Allawi's Sunni- backed, secular-Shiite coalition called Iraqiya topped Al-Maliki's Shiite State of Law bloc by two seats in the election. No alliance captured enough seats to form a new government though.

Source: Xinhua


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