Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament welcomed Iraq’s exit from its obligations under Chapter VII of the UN Charter after the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to resolution 2017 on Thursday.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat Tariq Jawhar Sarmami, senior media adviser to the speaker of the Kurdistan parliament, said: “We welcome the UN Security Council’s decision which will end a long period of Iraq being subject to international sanctions and [obligations of] Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”
He added: “On this occasion we call Iraqi leaders to seize this great opportunity to restore national unity in Iraq by committing to constitutional principles, implementing political agreements signed by Iraqi factions, and adhering to principles of national agreement to solve the country’s problems and ensure the continuation of the political process and reconstruction of Iraq.”
Sarmami stressed that all the national forces in Iraq need to stand together to strengthen the democratic process, focusing all efforts to reconstruct [the country] and meet the demands of all citizens.
For its part, the political bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, also welcomed the decision, stressing that “July 27, 2013 is a historic day for Iraq.”
The political bureau hoped that the UN decision would put an end to the impression that the unjust policies of the Ba’athist regime continue to affect Iraq, marking a new phase in Iraqi history.
“Iraq’s departure from Chapter VII will prepare the ground for the Federal Republic of Iraq to restore its fortunes. Without doubt, this decision will positively affect Iraq’s domestic affairs by addressing all pending issues and consolidating the democratic steps in the country,” the bureau said.
On the other hand, Iraq’s removal from Chapter VII poses new challenges and responsibilities for the country, most notably the protection of foreign assets from legal cases. This includes reparations from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
To highlight the challenges Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Dr Amir Hassan Fayyad, head of the department of political science at the University of Baghdad, who pointed out that “Iraq faces significant challenges. Under [Chapter VII], its funds were protected internationally by the United States, but now Iraq’s finances are is under its own protection. This requires an effort and the capability to rise to the occasion, to protect its assets and wealth. There will be many lawsuits and judicial measures against Iraq left over from the invasion of Kuwait. Therefore, the issue is not simply one of emerging from Chapter VII; it is also one of internal responsibility to meet the possible challenges.”
Despite all the challenges “Iraq emerging from under Chapter VII means that it will leave an arena of restrictions and enter one of freedoms,” the dean said.
He added that with the removal of Chapter VII, Iraq would become “absolutely sovereign, make independent decisions, and be fully politically recognized by the international community.”
“The financial aspect in the process of exiting the chapter involves Iraq’s largest financial wealth, which is oil. Thus far, these fortunes have been sent to the United Nations, which can take 5 percent as reparations, before being returned to Iraq. From today onwards, Iraq will handle its wealth with full financial independence,” Fayyad added.
Chapter VII of the United Nations Security Council has been applied to Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait 23 years ago.
The sanctions—which include an arms embargo and the freezing of certain assets—have remained in place despite the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. There are still unresolved disputes between Iraq and Kuwait, such as the remaining USD 12 billion in reparations and missing persons. It is hoped that these outstanding issues can be resolved outside of Chapter VI.
The UN resolution came when earlier this month Kuwait and Iraq agreed to downgrade the impositions to those of Chapter VI.
Speaking at the time, Ali Al-Mousawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Iraq and Kuwait have sent a message to the UN Security Council informing it that all differences related to the issue have been resolved, and that the issue of the missing [persons] has become secondary, and therefore, it has been moved to Chapter VI.”
In response to the signed agreements, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that “the governments of Iraq and Kuwait have demonstrated statesmanship and respect for each other’s national interests, in reaching a mutually acceptable and beneficial arrangement.”
“Should the Security Council agree with my recommendation, Iraq will exit Chapter VII with regard to this file and will be one step closer to restoring its international standing … an objective long sought by the leadership of the country following the removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein,” the UN chief added.