The Biden administration laid out its priorities in Iraq on Tuesday, saying it wants a strategic partnership with a stable and democratic country, while preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State terror group there.
“The United States will remain a steady, reliable partner for Iraq, and for the Iraqi people – today and in the future,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills told a virtual meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Iraq.
“The United States will seek to help Iraq assert its sovereignty in the face of enemies, at home and abroad, by preventing an ISIS resurgence and working toward Iraq’s stability,” he added, using an acronym for the terror group.
Mills said the new administration will support Iraq’s anti-corruption and economic reform efforts and continue providing humanitarian assistance. Washington will also back efforts to control militias and Iran’s destabilizing activities, while advising and assisting the Iraqi government’s counterterrorism forces.
The envoy said stability requires credible national elections, which are planned for October.
“These scheduled elections will be critical in establishing a responsive and representative government,” Mills said.
Iraq’s parliament has adopted legislation to finance the elections and registration of candidates and voters has begun. The U.N. has urged parliament to finalize the Federal Supreme Court law, as that court will certify election results.
Baghdad has asked the U.N. mission, known as UNAMI, to provide election observers for the October vote. The request will be discussed by the Security Council and it will be up to the 15 members to approve the request.
“We support international observation of Iraqi elections to ensure that the elections are free, fair, and credible, and look forward to working with Iraq, the [Security] Council, fellow members, and the U.N. to determine the most feasible form such an effort can take,” the U.S. envoy said.
The United States has already provided $9.7 million to the U.N. mission for election preparations in Iraq.
Mills reiterated U.S. condemnation of the deadly rocket attack Monday on the northern city of Irbil in the Kurdistan region, which killed at least one civilian contractor and injured several other people.
“One of the highest barriers to a conducive environment, however, is the presence of armed militias, violent extremists, and spoilers,” he noted, while calling on Iraqi authorities to plan for tight election security.