Iraq Will Not Participate in Any War, And is a Friend To All, President Says in Speech


President Salih said today that Iraqis are focused on achieving national progress and will not accept leaders who continue to advance failed and regressive ideas. This unique time in Iraq’s history cannot be squandered because of corruption or various political tensions. 
These remarks came during a speech in Baghdad at the opening ceremony of the Second Forum of Expert Women at the Council of Arab Economic Unity, hosted by Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim, the current Head of the National Wisdom Movement.  
His Excellency said that the region, along with the whole world, does not desire nor need more war. Iraq’s successful campaigns against terrorists must be a starting point for peace, not more conflict, he said. It can be the basis for a new regional system based on integrated economies. 
Iraq is strictly focused on development and economic transformation, he said; it has no interest in war with any party and will not allow itself to become a pawn in any struggle. 
His Excellency noted regional interest in building and developing on a foundation of peace, and said Iraq can play an active role in advancing these aspirations. 

President Salih stressed Iraq’s unique history in dealing with and overcoming injustice, saying that this experience requires Iraq to be responsible for helping others overcome injustice as well. Baghdad can be the center of this effort, as well as efforts to change Iraq from an area of competition in the region to an area of mutual collaboration among regional states. 
Being a youthful country, Iraq is focused on providing the best opportunities possible for all, and is sparing no effort to provide additional educational resources for Iraqi youth across the country. Thousands of new school buildings are needed immediately, and old facilities must be renovated, he added. 
On the sidelines of the forum, the President formally opened an exhibition of handicrafts and various works of art, and was brief by Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim on various youth projects around the country. 
The text of the President’s speech at the forum is as follows:  

In the Name of Allah The Most Gracious and Most Merciful, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Peace be upon all of you. You are welcomed in Baghdad as family. 
I thank Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim for his kind invitation, and for sponsoring this important Forum. 
It gives me great pleasure to be with you here and formally inaugurate today’s events. Domestic innovation is critical to the future of Iraq, and I laud the efforts all the gifted men and women here today, and look forward to learning more about their work. 
This forum is dedicated to noting and drawing attention to those individuals who have contributed to their fields in an outstanding manner as well as to help create opportunities that will lead to the further success of creative initiatives. I am particularly pleased to note the leadership role played by women in this event. 
There is a long history of Iraqi women achieving tremendous things on the national and international stage. The poet Nazek al-Malaika, the minister Naziha al-Dulaimi, and the architect Zaha Hadid, to name just a few, all were leaders in their fields and demonstrated the success that Iraqi women can achieve when their leadership and creativity is supported. 
 The importance of providing opportunities through various initiatives for Iraqi youth cannot be overstated, and will be accomplished through increased activity in supporting entrepreneurship in the private sector. Iraq is a youthful country, and Iraqi youth constitute the largest segment of the Iraqi population. We are working on many efforts to support the development of economic progress for these youth. 

Brothers and sisters with me here in Baghdad, we find ourselves once again at a critical threshold. An important new stage is being set in Iraqi history, and together we can build it through innovation and creative ideas. Like many historical cities subjected to setbacks, Baghdad will rise like a phoenix from the ashes with more confidence and stronger determination to achieve our dreams. Iraq rises again and again despite decades of tyranny, wars, devastation, terrorism, violence, and the widespread destruction of our cities and the displacement of millions of our countrymen and women. 
With the help of Allah and with the will and determination of all Iraqis in all communities, Iraq’s present victory over these problems will be seen in by future historians as the beginning of a rising nation that finally solves the problems of terrorism, which reduces intellectual, economic, social and political opportunities. 

Our great triumphs have been achieved by the sacrifices of our national forces working alongside our friends and allies in the international community. 
Unfortunately, this achievement occurs within a regional atmosphere that at times is not conducive for quick success, and recent regional tensions have unfortunately escalated. Nevertheless, we push onwards. 
The position of Iraq with regards to these tensions is clear and straightforward. We are emerging from four decades of war and do not want more. We are focused and will continue to focus, despite distractions, on economic development and progress. We are focused on solving our country’s problems, and will not be assisting in any way the forces of conflict and destruction. 
This focus is clearly inline with the interests of our regional neighbors and actors, who are working to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and various regional crises. 
The Arab Gulf, the Middle East, the broader region, and the world at large do not need more war to solve present problems. They need to support the hardwon victories of the Iraqi forces against terrorism. Having achieved this common goal by working together, we can consolidate our common gains and let Iraq be a starting point for a new regional system. This system can be based on economic integration, providing good job opportunities for regional youth, and advancing progress on the educational, health, health services and other fronts. Our common goal can be the improved dignity and freedom of all. 
We must cooperate for peace, build new friendships, and avoid to the extent possible tensions and crises. The region needs this. 
There is no doubt that Iraq has serious problems and challenges at this time. We are dealing with a legacy of destruction and devastation that has left no Iraqi family or individual untouched. It has made it extremely difficult to deliver the basic services that all Iraqis are entitled to. 
For example, on the education front, Iraq urgently needs twelve thousand new school buildings, and to repair and renovate old infrastructure. Similar action must be taken on the health and civil fronts. 
Iraq has suffered tremendously over the past four decades due to war, embargoes, tyranny, sectarian violence, chemical bombardment, and terrorism. No other society has had to overcome as many of these obstacles as Iraq. 
The scale of the challenges facing Iraq is formidable, but I will also say that the opportunities for progress are great as well. Throughout our modern history, Iraq has never been in such a situation where the foundational building blocks of society are starting to align in a healthy and productive manner. Iraqis are determined to move forward. Iraqis are demanding accountable and responsible governance from their leaders. Iraqis know that their wealth must not be squandered by corruption and Iraqis know we must not be distracted by various tensions. Iraqis at long last are charting their destiny and we will not be distracted at this decisive moment. 
We are starting to implement the economic visions of our talented Prime Minister, a trained economist, who is working aggressively to improve the economic outlook across Iraq every single day. He has a capable team with him in the government, and Parliament along with the political opposition realize the importance of assisting with his economic vision. 
We do have differences that must be overcome, and we must focus on these. We must dedicate our efforts towards serving all Iraqis who have suffered so much over the last four decades. 
No other country has ever been exposed to what Iraq has had to go through. This requires us to shift challenges into opportunities, to move Iraq from a land of conflict to a hub and center for all regional states to come together in. It requires changing Iraq from an area of wars and violence to an area of economic advancement. 
The government naturally plays an important role in this process, but the private sector and the creativity of all citizens has an incredibly significant and important impact on the direction of our nation as well. They can direct the government towards better decisions. 
We all know that in the 1950s and 1960s, Iraq was at the forefront of the regional educational system and the regional economy. Unfortunately, the rule of tyranny destroyed that legacy. But we are fortunate to be blessed with immense natural resources in addition to being an important historical site in the Middle East and in the broader Islamic World. 
It is my great hope that our present challenges become a great opportunity not only for the advancement of Iraq, but for the advancement of the region more broadly. 
Ladies and gentlemen, you are part of a generation that genuinely desires peace. You have so much creative potential that can be effectively transformed into new ideas and products as long as peace prevails. I work every day to ensure that happens. 
And we all hope that the strongest regional and global force will be peace. We hope that the language of reason and wisdom wins out. 
We must work together for progress and friendship. We must work together to deliver jobs, good schools, and better health services to our cherished Iraqi youth. They deserve better than they have. 
Not only Iraq, but the entire region, needs wise governance that enjoys the trust of the citizens, and leadership that invests in serving citizens.  
The progress that has been achieved elsewhere in the world is not beyond us. We have equally competent people, equally competent ideas, and equally competent creators. I know this to be true. 
Thank you very much for attending this conference. I wish this forum every success. I thank His Eminence Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim for his role in facilitating this important conference. 


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