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Five-year plan being launched this week sets benchmarks for united, democratic Iraq

Five-year plan being launched this week sets benchmarks for united, democratic Iraq

The International Compact with Iraq, being launched here this week, sets ambitious benchmarks to achieve a united, democratic Iraq within five years. But the plan hinges on ending violence and national reconciliation, and key countries are objecting to major requirements _ canceling Iraq's debts and providing substantial aid.
The compact was an initiative of Iraq's first elected government, launched soon after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office in June 2006 and strongly backed by the United Nations.
Al-Maliki and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are co-chairing Thursday's conference, and both have been actively seeking support for the compact. The Iraqi prime minister went on a Mideast tour last week, and Ban sent his special adviser on the compact to several countries in Europe and the Mideast.
The U.S. has also been trying hard to persuade other countries to follow the lead of the Bush administration and write off Iraq's huge debt to help the troubled country get on its feet financially.
The 42-page compact was unveiled at the U.N. on March 16 in hope of marshaling support for the plan ahead of Thursday's official launch, which is doubling as a donor's conference.
How many countries show up at the meeting in this Red Sea resort and whether they are prepared to provide significant financial support for the compact remains to be seen. Initial indications were not very promising.
Ban urged the international community to provide financial help, expressing hope in an AP interview last week that international support would spur the Iraqi people to promote national reconciliation.
Said Arikat, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Iraq, said Tuesday that about 50 countries have so far said they will attend Thursday's conference.
"The launch of the compact is a major steps towards reintegrating Iraq back as a viable member of the region and the international community," he said. "To achieve that goal, the Iraqi government on its part has promised to make progress on political inclusion, consensus-building, the rule of law _ and very importantly, on the establishment of a professional security force."
The compact says the police and military must be "depoliticized, impartial, accountable, transparent, and professional." It also says the government will seek support from all parties to dissolve militias and reintegrate their members.
But Sunni-dominated Arab countries are demanding that Iraq's Shiite-led government do more to reach out to the country's disgruntled Sunni minority before pledging any substantial aid, according to a document obtained last week by AP.
U.S. officials have said Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah ignored U.S. advice when he declined to meet recently with al-Maliki, even as the kingdom has said it agreed to cancel 80 percent of Iraq US$16 billion (euro11.76 billion) debt that stems from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Kuwait, which was invaded in 1990 by Saddam Hussein's army, has balked at forgiving Iraq's US$15 billion (euro11.03 billion) debt, aides to al-Maliki said last week, though the final decision is up to parliament. Several major European and Asian countries have also let it be known that they don't have extra money to help Iraq.
Al-Maliki said his country would not allow other Arab nations to set conditions for Iraq. But the Arab stance indicates the tensions between Iraq and its neighbors that are complicating efforts to generate wide support for the compact.
Those tensions are expected to dominate a second ministerial conference on Friday that will bring Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria, together with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as well as the Group of Eight major industrialized nations including Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada.
The compact holds out the vision of Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors, and Iraqis rejecting "all forms of selfishness, dictatorship, sectarianism and racialism" as well as "violence and all forms of terrorism."
It projects economic growth jumping from 3 percent in 2006 to 15.4 percent in 2007 and then slowing to 5.3 percent in 2011 _ the last year of the compact. It also projects oil production increasing from 1.97 million barrels per day in 2006 to 2.35 million barrels daily in 2007 and 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011.
The compact requires the government to establish a human rights commission, enforce the rule of law in police operations, courts and prisons, develop anti-corruption plans and reform the civil service. It provides for an oil-profit sharing law and a fully funded budget for 2007.
The international community, for its part, would accept that reforms can only be achieved with cooperation and investment. Such assistance "can include the granting of 100 percent debt relief" and financial and technical assistance, the compact said.


Updated : 2021-02-28 15:38 GMT+08:00