Iraq and the United States
By H.E. LukmanFaily, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S.
Using the venue of the Brookings Institution, LukmanFaily, recently appointed Iraqi ambassador to the United States, spoke on September 18, 2013.
Ambassador Faily's credentials include undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and computer science; he had a 20-year private industry career, but after Saddam Hussein's ouster, he joined the Iraqi diplomatic service. Faily came to Washington following an ambassadorial stint in Japan.
Faily's address hit the "new boy in the neighborhood" traditional points; it had the added virtue of brevity. He adroitly noted appreciation of U.S. sacrifices "for the sake of a free and democratic Iraq," and commented that one of his first actions was to visit Arlington National Cemetery.
He identified his "primary mission" as "nurturing an enduring partnership with the United States" and attempted to emphasize that "trade and commerce" should be at the heart of our bilateral relations. Iraqi oil production, now second in OPEC, is the basis for national prosperity, and Faily stressed interest by various U.S. companies regarding investment as well as major Iraqi purchases of U.S. military equipment and commercial aircraft.
Faily reviewed the Arab Spring and Syria. For the former, what had begun as a "prodemocratic protest is sadly sliding toward polarization of communities along sectarian, regional, and religious lines." For the latter, Iraq's position is "an impartial stand in any conflict affecting our neighbors ... we do not wish to take sides ... our constitution has stipulated the principle of noninterference." That said, Iraq "categorically rejects" military support of the Syrian regime (and the charges that Baghdad had facilitated Iranian...