WORKSHOP REPORT – REBUILDING CHALLENGES IN IRAQ: OUTLINE FOR A GCC-EU AGENDA

On 16th May, the Bussola Institute held a Workshop on Iraq and its current geopolitical situation, entitled "Rebuilding Challenges in Iraq: Outline for a GCC-EU Agenda". This seminar was organized around the main challenges and opportunities facing Iraq under its new government, and assessed the main risks to its stability in the medium and long term.

WORKSHOP REPORT – REBUILDING CHALLENGES IN IRAQ: OUTLINE FOR A GCC-EU AGENDA

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Bussola Institute

Date

May 30, 2019

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WORKSHOP REPORT – REBUILDING CHALLENGES IN IRAQ: OUTLINE FOR A GCC-EU AGENDA

On 16th  May, the Bussola Institute held a Workshop on Iraq and its current geopolitical situation, entitled "Rebuilding Challenges in Iraq: Outline for a GCC-EU Agenda". This seminar was organised around the main challenges and opportunities facing Iraq under its new government, and assessed the main risks to its stability in the medium and long term. Ramon Blecua, Head of the EU Delegation in Iraq, Ranj Alaaldin, Research Fellow at Brookings Doha Centre, Dr Nussaibah Younis, Senior Advisor at the European Institute of Peace, and Angus Taverner, Senior Researcher at Bussola Institute, presented their views in a discussion moderated by Dr Christian Koch, Senior Advisor at Bussola Institute. The workshop was also attended by a number of senior figures from across Brussels including Dr Fadhil Al-Raheem, Iraq’s Chargé d’Affaires in Belgium. Through their formal and informal contributions, the Workshop explored the main lines of cooperation and areas of potential synergy between the EU and the GCC states that could help and support Iraq on its path to reconstruction and development. There was general consensus among the panel that Iraq is at a critical juncture in its history. Although there are key challenges ahead in economic, social, demographic and environmental terms, it is also a moment of opportunity for the country as evidenced by the many positive signals that have fostered local and regional optimism and also demonstrated the resilience of Iraq in the face of some extreme challenges. Despite war and the experience of the Islamic State (IS), Iraq has still managed to hold conclusive elections in 2018, and achieve another peaceful transition of power, which has ultimately led to the formation of a ‘technocratic’ government that continues to be popular among the Iraqi population: a sequence of events that one contributor described as “unprecedented in the region.” 

There have also been signs of warming relations between Iraq and the GCC states as evidenced by the reopening of the Saudi Embassy in Baghdad in 2017, and the two visits by Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi to Riyadh over the past 12 months. Europe also seems to have acknowledged the crucial importance of Iraq in terms of both its security and investment, as Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi’s recent visits to Tunis (where he met Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign A airs and Security Policy), Paris and Berlin have indicated. Contributors also emphasised the new government’s priorisation of political and economic development in order to transcend sectarian divisions. They noted e orts to integrate all groups within the political arena to encourage cross-sectarian cooperation. From this basis, the Iraqi state has started the process of transforming an internal weakness into a potential asset that should have positive repercussions on the regional and international scene. Despite continued volatility in the region, the Iraqi government has become a conciliatory actor, capable of speaking with all regional and international players. By refusing to take sides and no longer being perceived as a threat to the region, Iraq has successfully reduced the impact of external conflicts on its internal stability. In short, the Workshop’s contributors argued that Iraq is becoming a cornerstone of a new security paradigm that has the capacity to transform former hegemonic confrontation between regional powers into a framework for regional collaboration.



Learn more in the PDF version of this report on this page.