Iraq Heading for Stability

Dubai - Provincial elections, the installation of a new president in Washington and the unveiling of a new security agreement with the United States next month are likely to change the dynamics in Iraq and help create greater political and socio-economic stability in the conflict-ridden country, a top US military officer said on Thursday.

By Anand Sagar, Foreign Editor

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Published: Fri 12 Dec 2008, 2:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:14 PM

Major-General David Perkins, said during a discussion with Khaleej Times editors in Dubai that Iraq was attracting investments worth billion of dollars due to the improving security situation.

Given this combination of factors, the next two months, he said, would prove to be both “interesting and crucial” for Iraq as the pace of progress on various fronts begins to pick up momentum.

Political stability, followed by progress in other areas, he said, is now “the next big challenge” for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and his government. Asked about how free and fair he expects the January provincial polls to be in the midst of strong ethno-sectarian tensions, General Perkins said, “Now that we have the security (situation) under control, the Iraqi people are starting to plan for their future.”

Also, he added, there is a crucial difference this time: There is, for the first time, a very wide choice with about 14,000 candidates in the fray for about 400 provincial seats. And, unlike the last polls, there are no “closed lists” and the people will vote directly for their favoured candidate.

Of course, he admitted, “there are some frustrations…but Prime Minister Maliki has committed a lot of resources and lot of effort to ensure that the January polls are free and fair”. Interestingly, he said, “what we have also seen lately is that sectarian groups have begun to form political alliances based on issues, not religion. That is encouraging because that is what mature democracies do.”

Complementing these major political shifts and realignments, he pointed out, is the “growing interest in new investments in Iraq.

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