Minister Karim Sinjari’s speech in a panel on Security in Iraq at Erbil Forum

Minister Karim Sinjar’s speech

Erbil Forum by Rudaw Research Centre,

Panel on Security in Iraq

Erbil, 1 March 2019

Dear Guests….

Ladies and gentlemen….

Good Evening….

I am pleased to be here today in this important forum, I thank the Rudaw research centre for organizing this panel on the security in Iraq.

After the declaration of the victory over the ISIS Caliphate, we were all happy with the end of the ISIS Caliphate in Iraq, but this does not mean the end of terrorism, as there are many other challenges remaining in post ISIS-Iraq, especially providing security, restoring stability and ensuring prosperity in Iraq.

We have to look into the political, social, economic, religious and cultural environment and background in which terrorism grows. This is a fundamental step towards confronting terrorism and restoring stability and security. 

Talking about security in Iraq is incomplete, if we do not refer to the stages of terrorism emergence and terror groups strengthening before and after ISIS and the reasons that helped the growth of terrorism after 2003 until the emergence of ISIS so that we understand the current situation.

After the collapse of the Iraqi Regime in 2003, a new governance system was endorsed in the hope that all Iraqi communities become true partners and share the power after almost 80 years of one party and one man rule and dictatorship; because of this bloody history, not one of the Iraqi communities trusted the other and all have serious fears from the past, present and for their future in Iraq, even now this fear is still present, while it becomes greater.

In all successive Iraqi cabinets, grave mistakes were committed, no one was able to enforce the rule of law to restore the most needed trust and confidence among all Iraqi components and make the constitution a foundation for governance to turn people’s hope to a better and prosperous future into reality.

Although many initiatives were announced for national reconciliation, but they did not succeed due to the misuse and being derailed for being used as a tool to revenge against each other.

This resulted in further deepening political problems on a daily basis and dwindling the trust among the communities, and as Iraq moved towards unilateral governance and all communities felt that they were marginalized and lost hope and did not feel security and protection.

As a result, the government was weakened in all levels and the emergence of economic, social, and religious problems, the spread of corruption, the formation of terror and killing groups across Iraq and diminishing of public services and job opportunities as well as the foreign interference increased.

These are the main reasons for creating a fertile environment for the terrorism growth in Iraq since 2003 until today.

Terrorists have been able to take advantage of the vacuum and make Iraq a fertile ground for terror production through sending trained terrorists and established a terrorism foundation and sleeping cells among the Iraqi communities.

Additionally, the conduciveness of the environment helped in a way that the people could cooperate and assist and, in some case, even welcome terrorist groups in Iraq, facilitated the growth of terrorist groups in Iraq after 2003, especially in the majority Sunni populated areas until the emergence of ISIS and invasion of one third of Iraqi territories.

The ISIS has dire consequences for all the Iraqi communities, ISIS resulted in the destruction of almost 70% of the public infrastructure and private properties in all the areas once under their control.

Additionally, the ISIS carried out thousands of horrible crimes against civilians and security forces, eroding the trust and deepening sectarian conflict and the displacement of over 5 million people.

ISIS carried out mass executions, indiscriminate killings, the destruction of all holy shrines, the religious sites of all religious sects, enslaving thousands of women, girls, children, especially the Yezidis as sex slaves.

ISIS also trained, and brain washed thousands of kids, teenagers and youths on terror ideology and jihad. Additionally, tens of thousands of people voluntarily joined and supported ISIS, and they committed horrible crimes against civilians and security forces.

Furthermore, all the administration and security system in the areas controlled by ISIS entirely collapsed and the civilian authorities ended.

Dozens of armed groups and militia formed outside the formal security and defense system, each has its own agenda and they have become a real threat and a problem to the political, reconciliation, stabilization and reconstruction process.  

In terms of religious and ethnic cohesion, the social trust was destroyed, all communities became the target of the terrorists and the social fabric was torn apart and all the communities are divided with each fearing the other.

Despite the military success over ISIS, the ISIS has not ended, they are still active in many liberated areas. The ISIS and other terrorist groups continue to regroup and reorganize themselves and invent new ways and tactics to spread terror ideology targeting the young and youths to carry out terrorist activities in Iraq.

Confronting terrorism only militarily is not sufficient, but we need to find new ways to prevent the spread of the violent ideology and terrorism, especially working to end the fertile environment in which terrorism grows through solving the structural problems including political, governance, economic, social, religious, legal and humanitarian problems and land disputes.

Security hinges on several important pillars such as political stability, governance stability, economic stability and social and religious cohesion, if these pillars are not stable, the security will not be ensured.

When we look into the Iraqi situation, none of these pillars are stable while they are very fragile. Therefore, restoring stability and ensuring security in all Iraq and ending terrorism part from military efforts, needs serious steps to be taken by Iraqi leaders to restore trust and build confidence among all Iraqi communities and securing a brighter and prosperous future for all Iraqis and these steps include:

  1. Launching a genuine reconciliation process for solving structural problems in the governance, political system, economic and social as well as land disputes.
  1. Establishment of an independent transitional justice process to bring all those who committed crimes before justice including ISIS fighters and those among formal security forces and armed groups against the civilians and security forces across Iraq and restitute the rights and compensate the victims for their losses.
  1. Starting a quality reform process in the military and intelligence agencies, restructure and reorganize them based on the best military standards with the true participation of all components in high military ranks, away from political, sectarian, and religious affiliation and loyalty so that they become trustworthy of all communities and become the protector of all Iraqis equally. As we should admit that security does not mean to have millions of men with guns, it is comprehensive and includes a professional force with procedures and processes, technology and intelligence analysis capability which operates within the law.
  1. Prohibit and disarm all militia and non-formal armed groups outside the security and defense system in Iraq and ending impunity for all armed groups in any sectarian, ethnic and religious components in Iraq.
  1. Strengthening cooperation and coordination between Iraqi Army and Peshmerga and intelligence agencies, reestablishment of joint security mechanisms in the disputed territories between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional government to ensure security and stability and safety of the communities and prevent potential risk of the reemergence of terrorists in these areas.
  1. Reestablishment of local administration and governance in the liberated areas and return of authorities to the civilian administrations in these areas and withdrawal of all armed forces and groups in the cities and urban areas to reinforce rule of law and providing economic support and job and livelihood opportunities for people.
  1. Development of a tailored program to providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs, the return process, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the basic services so that the IDPs can return to their homes in the liberated areas.
  2. Provision of advanced technology to the security forces to investigate, monitor and screen for the purpose of strengthening security and protection as well as ensuring safety of all civilians.
  1. Development and expansion of the detention centres according to the international criteria and development of tailored programs for education and awareness raising to confront terrorism and extremism.
  1. Opening tailored training courses for the security forces and employees who work in the detention centres on methods and processes to treat the terrorists to prevent the spread of violence and terror ideology and to rehabilitate the detainees.
  1. Development of special educational programs in detention and reform centres to prevent the spread of terrorism and extremism ideology.
  1. Development of a guidelines on extremism ideology for all teachers, preachers and religious leaders who work in the educational, social and religious centres and institutions to protect the young and youths from being exposed to this ideology.
  1. Creation of jobs, economic and educational opportunities, social and cultural forums as well as vocational training for the young and youths to be aware and protected from terrorism and extremism ideology.
  1. Exert more efforts to increase cooperation at the regional and international levels and strengthen intelligence gathering capabilities to confront and disclose terrorists, foil plots, securing international borders and drying up financial sources.
  1. Reform and development of the education system in Iraq and include the human rights, values and principles as well as gender equality and peaceful coexistence, and religious tolerance.

Finally, we should remember that Iraq is at the crossroad today; after ISIS, there is a new opportunity to review all the mistakes made in the past to find long lasting solutions for the political, governance, economic, social and religious problems and land disputes so that all Iraqis feel the security and that their rights are equally protected by the constitution and the law.

Otherwise, ignoring these structural problems any longer, the Iraqi environment will further be fertilized for terror production and emergence of new terrorist groups and only through military means terrorism can not be ended. Security could not be ensured, and stability will not be restored. As a result, Iraq will be doomed to additional suffering and failure.

Thank you again for this opportunity and for your attention….

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