Iraqi President on 100th Anniversary of Army's Founding: The Strength, Prestige and Neutrality of Iraqi Military is Commensurate With Strength, Prestige and Sovereignty of Iraqi State


On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the President of the Republic of Iraq, Barham Salih, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi armed forces.

President Salih acknowledged the sacrifices made by members of the Iraqi military in the recent fight against ISIS and praised the cooperation between the Iraqi military and the multitude of other local security forces, as well as the Iraqi people themselves, during this conflict.

The lives lost and the courageous efforts of so many require all other Iraqis to continue to help progress the Iraqi military, the President said. A sovereign army was one of the foundations of a functioning and independent state, he noted. Never again should the army become a tool for dictatorships or authoritarians.

President Salih: "The strength and the prestige of the Iraqi army are commensurate with the strength and prestige of the Iraqi state: Both should serve and protect the Iraqi people."

President Salih concluded by congratulating all current members of the Iraqi military on the anniversary and sending his condolences to the families of all those killed in action.

The full text of President Salih's statement follows:

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of Iraq's valiant military, we remember the great deeds, heroic attitudes and enormous sacrifices made by our armed forces, within every unit and in every formation, in the defense of our country against terrorism and in maintaining Iraqi sovereignty and autonomy.

On days like this, we recall the heroic stories told about our armed forces as they fought against ISIS, to liberate our villages, towns and  cities. This was achieved by acting in concert with Iraq's own people, as well as other armed Iraqi forces, including the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga and tribal fighters. All of their sacrifices are writ large in pride and dignity on the pages of our history books and will be remembered for generations to come.

Their courageous and heroic actions call upon all of us to continue in our efforts to develop our troops into a national army, with faith in the military doctrine and a firm belief in its mission to defend the state of Iraq and preserve its sovereignty.

In order to do this, we must improve how unlicensed weapons are regulated so that the state has a monopoly of arms. It is also necessary to promote solidarity among all components of Iraq's peoples to achieve this aim.

The Iraqi people suffered through long years of dictatorship and authoritarianism, years that plunged our military into vicious conflicts, cycles of infighting, coups, senseless wars and the repression of its own people. The army should always be an independent national institution, protecting Iraq's sovereignty, and never a tool for authoritarians or dictators.

The strength and the prestige of the Iraqi army are commensurate with the strength and the prestige of the Iraqi state: Both should serve and protect the Iraqi people. The army's basic task of maintaining security and stability cannot be taken away by anyone. It is the foundation of a capable and fully sovereign state.

On this anniversary, dear to many Iraqi hearts, we send congratulations to all the commanders and officers, and all of the rank and file, in every unit or formation. We also send our greetings to the families of the army's own martyrs and we pray to the Almighty to hold their martyrs' souls in mercy and to grant them eternal life in heaven.

We wish our brave army prosperity and progress.

May God bless and save our armed forces every year. May God save Iraq and its people.

Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021.