Iraqi President Salih's Essay on the 100th anniversary of founding the modern Iraqi State: We should work together towards having a new political and social contract aiming to establish a good governance


One hundred years have passed since the Iraqi Modern State was established in 1921. These one hundred years witnessed many historical stations in Iraq's history. It included the first works of the Free Patriotic Movement, laying the ground for economic development and management as it witnessed the emerging of peaceful struggle and political dynamic, the development of health, educational and cultural system, enhancing equality among all the components of Iraqi people. Moreover, women took a leading role in public life. It is, therefore, Iraq was at the forefront of states, and became the centre of intellectual creation and human civilization taking advantage of its historical legacy, where Mesopotamia which is one of the most ancient world civilizations emerged in Iraq.

But the subsequent stages of the age of the State did not come without setbacks or flaws where the Iraqi have suffered from wars, persecutions, embargo and terror that recently attacked our towns and cities.

The Iraqi argue about the cause of the crisis, and they do believe that it was caused by the successive regimes that ruled the country. History has shown us a serious deviation where the military meddled in political affairs, coups d'état, Interim Constitutions, and practised discrimination and oppression, and engaged in genocide campaigns and mass graves, the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish people in Halabja and draining the Marshes in the south of Iraq as well.

The biggest lesson we learned from founding the modern Iraqi State is the urgent need to establish good governance. Although Iraq is rich in natural resources and has great human resources and is located in the heart of the Middle East, there is a failure to bring about lasting peace and to improve the living conditions of the Iraqi citizens.

One of the greatest governance challenges is the structural imbalance in the government system since 2003 because there was a failure to meet the Iraqi population's needs. There is no doubt that genuine and fundamental reform should be taken to the government system. What has been achieved after 2003 cannot be underestimated where successively six governments and five parliaments peacefully and democratically transferred power.

Establishing good governance begins with restoring the Iraqi people confidence in the political system and putting an end to the encroaching, breaching on the sovereignty of the State.

Today, we are at the dawn of forming a new government that must be strong and capable. To that end, we deem it necessary to establish a new political and social contract guaranteeing civil peace to establish good governance that can review the mistakes and past experiences.

The move towards beginning this contract is an urgent need. National public opinion and political and social players will take part in the drafting of the contract. Historical national responsibility and this critical juncture require everybody to work seriously to break out of the cycle of crises. At the end of the day, neither the Shiites nor the Kurds nor the Sunnis nor the rest of the Iraqi components are satisfied with the status quo in Iraq. They do believe that the continuation of the situation has become impossible.

Long-term problems in the relations between Kurds and Baghdad that emerged since the beginning of the foundation of the modern Iraqi State were still unresolved until the present day. It is, therefore, meaningful dialogue in Baghdad is needed to work out these issues. Genuine partnerships should be ensured to find definitive solutions that would serve all the Iraqis from Basra to Baghdad, Najaf, Anbar, Mosul, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah and Kurdistan region as well.

We have recently managed to hold an early election. It was conducted in response to a popular movement and a national consensus on the need to undertake radical reforms. The elections procedures that would help to form a new government are expected to be completed.

It is truly inspiring to see the Iraqis taking the election as a peaceful way to resolve their problems away from wars and infighting even though they have suffered from crisis and the attacks and violence committed by terror against them. low turnouts in the elections can't be denied. At the end of the day, the electoral process isn't only our goal itself but rather it leads us to keep the democratic process on track as it is a peaceful path ensuring large-turn out in the election and meeting Iraqi people demands to establish good governance.

The phenomenon of corruption is dangerous as it is a barrier to good governance and this serious scourge is closely related to violence, terrorism, feeding divisions, threatening civil peace and influencing equal opportunities among the Iraqis.

Responding to the challenges of corruption calls upon all official institutions and all social and civil actors to take a serious stand and work together. It is a national battle therefore if the country's situation can be rectified, the victory will be realized in this battle. Corruption must be eradicated from the root and funds stolen and taken out of the country must be recovered.

The next stage should work on the amendment of some terms of the Iraqi constitution where political practice caused the deep-seated crisis that stand in the way of achieving the development in the political progress. However, legislation should be enacted in line with the Iraqi constitution and fundamental national values and in keeping up with developments in the world. The major transformations, which the country has experienced, remained tightly controlled by the legal system that failed to keep up with the political, economic, social developments that took place in the country where the provisions of the Iraqi Penal Code are still applied by the judges.

There are still challenges ahead of us in achieving economic transformation in the country. It's too dangerous to continue depending on rentier economies which is unsustainable and relies more than 90% on the export of oil. Reducing crude oil demands and the global shift to renewable energy will drop in the financial revenue of our economy, sooner or later.

The acceleration of the global economic transformation towards renewable energy through climate agreements requires early planning to completely change our economic foundations. This is linked with the most serious threat to our country's future, which is to address climate change and its significant environmental and economic damage over Iraq.

The high temperatures have become more common and the drought is most severe and the dust storms are more damaged and our land is threatened by salinization. Building deems on the headwaters and tributaries of the Tigris and Euphrates has declined our water quotas. It is, therefore, we have to tackle climate change as a national priority and we have to revitalize Mesopotamia. Our actions to protect biodiversity such as palm trees, the marshes, plains and mountains in Kurdistan are to be more effective. This could be done through having strategic plans to address climate change.

One of the drawbacks in the history of the modern Iraqi state is that its geographical location, which is located in the heart of the Middle East, is never taken advantage of. However, its internal crisis cast a shadow over the region and aggravated the situation, where there senseless wars and conflicts have been waged against its neighbours. As a result, the regional order has been collapsed and being controlled by the polarization and division that haven't brought the desired peace and everybody become affected and there is no winner.

It is, therefore, we have to adopt a foreign policy that is based on distancing Iraq from axes policy and adopting an equally neutral policy with all states. Iraq which was a battleground for various political agendas must be turned into a point of cooperation and inclusion, rather than division, for all regional and international states. This would bring Iraq back to its central role and would put an end to any steps by any country to settle scores on Iraq's soil. Baghdad, the capital of the world civilization and centre for diversity and tolerance, where the world culture comes together.

Today, while marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi modern state, some daunting challenges remain to be addressed and major tasks are still ahead. The encroaching and breaching of the sovereignty of the Iraqi state is not a matter of growing problems for Iraq only, but also for the region as well. A strong, stable and sovereign state that peacefully treats its people and pursues a policy promoting good neighbour. That's what Iraq has got to be. A state that is based on the Iraqi constitution and takes care of its people where there is no excuse to oppress its people. Moreover, it should serve people and should be able to enforce the law and respect human rights and strengthen the principle of citizenship and support and develop the educational system.

 A greeting of esteem and honour to all the martyrs of Iraq, those who sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy, dignity and for defending the homeland.