The withdrawal of United States forces in Iraq by the end of the year would be an important milestone that entailed many challenges even as it provided all Iraqis the opportunity to prove to themselves that they could build a peaceful and better future and give the country’s political and elected officials the chance to consolidate democratic and economic gains, the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) told the Security Council this morning.
He noted that, while the Iraqi Security Forces had assumed full control of the country’s security, they continued to face armed opposition and terrorist groups, who carried out mass casualty attacks that affected the lives of hundreds of citizens across the country. They also posed significant challenges to the delivery of United Nations assistance on the ground. He condemned, in the strongest possible terms, yesterday’s terrorist attack on Ashura pilgrims, and stressed that Iraq’s religious and ethnic diversity was its ultimate strength and formed the heart of its effort to establish a prosperous and all-inclusive society.
He listed wealth distribution and power-sharing, delivery and access to basic services, strained community relations, and unresolved issues between Iraq and Kuwait among them. UNAMI and the United Nations country team stood ready to work with the Government and to redouble its efforts to solidify democracy, political stability and prosperity as the United States forces withdrew.
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