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U.N. representative cautiously optimistic about Iraq’s future

This afternoon, the New America Foundation hosted “The New Forgotten War,” a talk about the future of Iraq. It featured Ad Melkert, the special representative for the U.N. secretary-general in Iraq. Melkert, a former Dutch member of parliament, remains cautiously optimistic about Iraq’s future, with an emphasis on the cautious part. The good news is ...

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This afternoon, the New America Foundation hosted “The New Forgotten War,” a talk about the future of Iraq. It featured Ad Melkert, the special representative for the U.N. secretary-general in Iraq.

Melkert, a former Dutch member of parliament, remains cautiously optimistic about Iraq’s future, with an emphasis on the cautious part. The good news is that security in Iraq is better than it was two years ago. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been able to confront violence in the southern part of the country, Melkert said. As a result of the safer state, investment is starting to rise, but it still has a long way to go. Corruption, the terrible infrastructure, and legal concerns hamper Iraq’s ability to draw serious investment.

One serious problem for the nascent state is budgetary, Melkert said. When oil prices are high, the government spends all of its revenue, but when they fall, they have to slash the budget.

Further, Iraq is still under dozens of UN chapter seven sanctions, stemming from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The current leadership says these sanctions need to be lifted because they were implemented against Hussein and not the current government.

These problems could potentially be amplified in the coming months and years as foreign security forces draw down in the country. Melkert said that one of two things will happen. Either the Iraqi forces will somehow maintain order, or the insurgents will attack as soon as the United States leaves. Right now, police officers, public servants, and UN workers and buildings remain prime targets.

New America Foundation/Flickr

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