The United Nations votes to end the political mission in Iraq established after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein

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The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for a final period of 19 months, until December 31, 2025; all 15 members voted in favor. | Photo credits: Photo credits: X/@UN_News_Centre

The United Nations Security Council (UN Security Council) voted unanimously on May 31 to end the United Nations (UN) political mission in Iraq, which was established in 2003 after the US-led invasion that killed Saddam Hussein. overthrow, to coordinate post-conflict humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, and to help restore a representative government in the country.

The Iraqi government asked the Council in a May 8 letter to complete the mission by the end of 2025 and that is what the resolution does: it extends the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, known as UNAMI, by a further last 19 months. until December 31, 2025, when all its operations will cease.

The US-backed resolution asks Secretary General Antonio Guterres to prepare “a transition and liquidation plan” in consultation with the Iraqi government by December 31, 2024, so that UNAMI can begin transferring its functions and withdrawing personnel and assets.

The council said it supports Iraq’s continued stabilization efforts, including the continued fight against the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda extremists and their allies.

In 2014, the Islamic State group declared a caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria, attracting tens of thousands of followers from around the world. The extremists were defeated by a US-led military coalition in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019, but sleeper cells remain in both countries.

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Iraq is also trying to wind down the military coalition formed to fight IS. The approximately 2,500 U.S. troops are spread across the country, largely in military installations in Baghdad and the north. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has argued that Iraqi security forces are capable of dealing with the remaining IS cells in the country and that the coalition’s presence is no longer necessary.

Mr. Al-Sudani’s office expressed its “welcome and appreciation” for the Security Council vote, saying in a statement that the council’s decision was “the result of the tangible progress Iraq is witnessing at various levels.”

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Guterres and UNAMI are “fully committed” to fulfilling the tasks set out in the resolution and that “the United Nations remains strongly committed to supporting Iraq in its aspirations for a peaceful and secure future ”.

Highlighting “significant achievements” in Iraq since UNAMI was established in August 2003, Mr. Dujarric said, noting the mission’s assistance in promoting inclusive political dialogue in the country, holding elections, promoting accountability, protecting human rights and coordinating the return and reintegration of people displaced into the country.

The resolution closing the UNAMI mission adopted on 31 May expresses support for Iraq’s reform efforts aimed at fighting corruption, respecting and protecting human rights, providing essential services to the population, creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

It calls on the Secretary-General to streamline UNAMI’s tasks prior to the closure of the mission and to focus on providing advice, support and technical assistance to the Government to strengthen preparations for free elections, including for the Federal parliament and for the parliament in the Kurdistan region.

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It also authorizes UNAMI to facilitate progress toward a final resolution of outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait arising from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of his smaller neighbor in August 1990.

In addition, the resolution says UNAMI should assist in the return of internally displaced Iraqis and people in Syria, the provision of health and other services, and economic development. And it also authorizes the mission to “promote accountability and the protection of human rights, and judicial and legal reforms.”

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution and plans for an orderly wind-down of UNAMI.

“We all recognize that Iraq has changed dramatically in recent years and that UNAMI’s mission needs to be realigned as part of our commitment to promoting a secure, stable and sovereign Iraq,” he told the council.

Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva emphasized that what was important for Moscow in voting for the resolution was that the United States took into account the priorities that Iraq wanted UNAMI to focus on in the final months.

“We are confident that in the twenty years since its establishment, UNAMI has fully realized its potential to assist in the recovery of the Iraqi state and that the people of Iraq are now ready to take full responsibility for the country’s political future to take,” she said. “We express our strong support for Iraq’s sovereignty and oppose any interference in the country’s internal affairs. That is a necessity.”

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