- Created on Thursday, 15 August 2013 15:14
- Written by IVN
Washington, DC - Since Vice President Biden traveled to Iraq in November 2011 and convened a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) has served as the backbone of our relationship with the Government of Iraq (GOI).
The United States and the GOI value the SFA, as evidenced by public statements by each side, the three Higher Coordinating Committee meetings and 24 Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meetings held in the areas of cooperation outlined in the SFA, the Working Groups within each JCC that meet on a regular basis, and the myriad of developments across these sectors, a sampling of which is listed below:
Defense and Security (Last JCC in December 2012)
- In June 2013, the U.S. Central Command hosted the first U.S.- Iraq Joint Military Committee (JMC), which is a subordinate discussion to the Defense and Security JCC. The JMC addressed issues such as border security, Iraqi military strategy, and engagement of Iraqi Security Forces in regional training exercises. The next JCC likely will be held in Washington this year.
- At the December 2012 JCC, Acting Defense Minister al-Dlimi signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Security Cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. This agreement represents the strong military to military relationship between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.
- With strong U.S. support, Iraq has brought its military engagement with regional partners to historically high levels, including military exercises, strategic conferences and bilateral military engagements. Iraq’s participation in a naval exercise in Bahrain this year marked the first out-of-area deployment by an Iraqi naval unit in the post-Saddam era and the first-ever Iraqi port visit to Bahrain.
- In close collaboration with U.S. officials, the Government of Iraq has purchased more than $14 billion in equipment, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program for its military and security forces. The Iraq FMS program is one of the largest in the world and is an important symbol of the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries. We remain committed to meeting Iraqi equipment needs as quickly as possible.
Education, Science and Cultural (Last JCC December 2012)
- The number of Iraqi students studying in the United States increased by 31% from 2011 to 2012 to a total of over 800. Our close bilateral cooperation in this area should produce continued increases in 2013.
- The Baghdad-based English Language Institute, established in partnership with the Iraqi government, is expected to open in October 2013. The U.S. provided $1 million in funding to support English language instruction to hundreds of Iraqi government scholarship students each year for this program.
- More than 1,200 Iraqis ages 15-22 participated in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, including more than 200 in 2013. Areas of focus include leadership development, respect for diversity, and civic participation.
- 150 Iraqi professionals participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2013. Themes include women in leadership, science and technology, interfaith dialogue, energy policy, higher education, journalism, civic engagement, elections, public health, entrepreneurship, stock exchange, and environmental protection.
- The USG, in conjunction with the UN, IAEA, and Ministry of Science and Technology, held a two-day Nuclear Dismantlement Conference in Erbil in 2013, focusing on the Adaya nuclear burial site in Ninewa province. The conference represented the culmination of the DOS Iraq Nuclear Dismantlement Program’s seven years of work to safeguard and remediate the most contaminated Saddam-era nuclear sites around the country.
- Cultural heritage is a significant pillar of the Strategic Framework Agreement, reflecting the high value both our nations place on this irreplaceable resource. Through the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project, a $12.9 million initiative developed and funded by the State Department, and implemented by the nonprofit International Relief and Development from 2008 to 2011, Iraqis have undergone training on cultural preservation techniques (including exchanges with the Smithsonian Institution, the Winterthur Museum and other key partners), rehabilitated and furnished eleven of the museum’s public galleries, a three-story collections storage facility, and significantly upgraded conservation labs.
Energy (Last JCC April 2012)
- Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity received U.S. training for over 100 of its key engineers and managers on energy security and safety in 2012 and 2013.
- Iraq’s Ministry of Oil received U.S. training for 9 key geoscientists and engineers on resource evaluation.
- The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq reaffirmed their commitment, including signing a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2013, to jointly cooperate in the areas of oil production and export, natural gas, electricity, and critical energy infrastructure protection.
Law Enforcement and Judicial/Human Rights (Last JCC June 2013)
- After considerable technical support and assistance from the U.S. Government, Iraq has now begun arresting, investigating, and prosecuting cases under its comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation.
- In May 2013 Embassy Baghdad, a Federal Judge from the 2nd Circuit, and the FBI, trained 13 Iraqi investigative judges on techniques in asset recovery in financial crimes, and a presentation on such techniques will be made to the Acting head of the Higher Judicial Council Judge Hammari.
- In 2012, Iraq established the High Commission for Human Rights to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Political and Diplomatic (Last JCC August 2013)
- With U.S. support, Iraq and Kuwait worked together to end Iraq’s Chapter VII obligations regarding the mandate of the High Level Coordinator for Missing Persons and Archives and establish a UN-led mechanism to continue and maintain their cooperation in this area. U.S. support also facilitated both parties’ successful efforts to resolve the longstanding dispute over damage inflicted on Kuwait’s national airline during the Gulf War. As a result, flights between Baghdad and Kuwait City resumed in 2013 after a 22-year cessation. In addition, both sides completed maintenance of the border pillars along their shared border in accordance with UNSCR 833. Iraq has also constructively engaged its key neighbors like Jordan and the United Arab Emirates on issues of shared concern, including the growing conflict in Syria.
- In April and June 2013, Iraq took another step toward building its democratic foundation through successfully holding provincial elections and in preparation for national elections in the spring of 2014.
- The United States continues to strongly support Iraqi civil society and the many NGOs that continue to operate in Iraq under very challenging circumstances, through training and advocacy, bringing public attention to issues of inclusive citizenship, displacement, human rights and women’s rights. The State Department also named the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization the winner of its 2012 Human Rights Defenders Award, for its “fearless advocacy for human rights, concrete achievements in protecting female detainees, and critical work on curriculum reform to promote religious freedom.”
- Through its UN partners, the United States has contributed over $1 billion in overall humanitarian aid since the Syria crisis began, including fully funding a $1 million food voucher program for the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq and supporting Syrian refugees living in camps and in host communities in Iraq.
- The United States also continues to provide support to displaced Iraqis, both inside Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Thus far in Fiscal Year 2013, the U.S. has provided over $87 million to address the needs of displaced Iraqis through the provision of shelter, health care, livelihoods assistance, and other basic humanitarian assistance.
Services, Technology, Environment & Transportation (Last JCC Nov 2012)
- Iraqi Airways continued to revitalize its aircraft fleet, and in part due to U.S. Government advocacy, agreed to a contract with Boeing for 41 planes worth $5.4 billion for delivery from 2013 – 2017.
- The Department of Transportation’s attaché office in Baghdad worked with Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation to bring Iraq’s airports into compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization codes and regulations, clearing American commercial carriers to resume operations to airports in northern Iraq for the first time in decades.
Trade & Finance (Last JCC March 2013)
- Prime Minister Maliki joined over 100,000 Iraqi visitors to the U.S. sponsored Pavilion at the Baghdad International Trade Fair in the fall of 2012. U.S. organizations’ participation was up 80% over the 2011 fair, the first time the U.S. participated since the 1980s.
- The Trade & Investment Framework Agreement between the Governments of Iraq and the United States, which addresses trade issues and improves bilateral economic relations, entered into force in May 2013.
- In part due to U.S. Government advocacy, major U.S. companies like Boeing, Cisco, ExxonMobil, Ford Motors, Halliburton, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin all have offices or are represented in Iraq. U.S. exports to Iraq, excluding aircraft, rose 13 percent between the first quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013.