President Obama, Mr Ban Ki-moon Secretary General of the United Nations, distinguished world leaders: On behalf of the people of Iraq, I thank you all – and your countries – for supporting our struggle against the transnational terrorists of Daesh.
One year ago, our countries formed a coalition against our common enemy who threatens people everywhere, regardless of region or religion.
This month also marks the first anniversary of my government taking office after free elections and a peaceful transition of power.
Now is the time to take stock of what we have accomplished together over the past year and the battles we will fight and win over the year ahead. And make no mistake: This is not only Iraq’s fight. This is humanity’s fight.
In order to understand where we are and where we are going, we first need to remember where we were only one year ago. When our government took office, we inherited a country in crisis. More than 30 percent of our territory was occupied by Daesh. Baghdad was almost surrounded. The Army was at risk of collapse. And one of the world’s oldest civilizations was at risk of being conquered by barbarians, with terrible consequences for our neighbours and the entire world.
On the home-front, our nation was divided by ethnic and sectarian strife and political bickering. Our government was on the brink of bankruptcy, with a bloated bureaucracy, including 4 million government employees, a half million more workers in inefficient state-owned enterprises, and 2.5 million pensioners. Meanwhile, we have had to help more than two million internally displaced persons and almost 25 percent of our people who are unemployed.
We have worked tirelessly to reunify our country, root out corruption, revive our economy and our finances, rebuild our military, and restore our relationships with our neighbours.
We are reaching out to the Sunni tribes in areas threatened or dominated by Daesh, including Anbar, Salahudin and Mosul. Many tribes are now fighting alongside Iraqi Security Forces.
We are weeding out corruption and incompetence in civil and military institutions, having replaced 36 senior commanders in the Ministry of Defence and 24 senior officers in the Ministry of Interior. We have eliminated payments for 50,000 “ghost soldiers,” saving over $500 million per year, and we are paying salaries for 80,000 volunteers who are actually fighting Daesh.
We are streamlining our government and eliminating costly ceremonial positions. And we are privatizing state-owned enterprises and reducing our reliance on oil revenues.
We are striving to incorporate into our security forces all Iraqis, from every religious confession and region, who have taken up arms to defend their families and communities. Our government is seeking to create a National Guard consisting of local fighters, including the Popular Mobilization Forces, who have been incorporated into Iraq’s security forces and are fighting alongside us against terrorism.
Because Daesh threatens our entire region, we are strengthening relations with our neighbours, including Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and all the countries of the Persian Gulf.
As we make reforms on the home-front and new strides on the diplomatic front, we are winning victories on the battlefield. Over the past year – and with the help of the Coalition – we have liberated Amerli, Barwana, Jurf al-Sakhar, Zumar, Baiji, Jalawla, Saadia, Dhululya and Tikrit.
In liberating Tikrit, we brought together the Iraqi Security Forces, the police, the Sunni tribes, and the Popular Mobilization Forces to free our fellow Iraqis from being tyrannized by terrorists. Tens of thousands of Iraqis who had fled from Tikrit have returned to their homes. And in spite of what many feared, there has been little revenge and an increasing restoration of normal life.
All across the areas now occupied by Daesh, we can win victories similar to our triumph in Tikrit. And we need your help.
With much of our country occupied by terrorists, oil prices plunging, millions of Iraqis still internally displaced and a budget that is a small fraction in wartime of what our predecessors spent in peacetime, we cannot finance the victory that our soldiers are fighting to win.
We need your help to pay, supply and equip our soldiers on the battlefields. We will also need your help – as Abraham Lincoln said in the midst of a bloody civil war – “to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”
And we need your help to dry up the terrorists’ sources of money and manpower. The coalition members from Europe and North America must continue working with our neighbouring countries to halt the influx of foreign fighters. We ask you all to prevent the terrorists from transferring funds through worldwide financial networks and profiting from smuggling oil, enslaving women and children, and stealing antiques and artworks to finance their savagery.
And because terrorism appeals to those whose hearts are filled with hate, we all need to counter the radical ideology espoused by the enemies of democracy in our region, while also addressing the social and economic problems that can foster extremism.
We must not lose focus, and we must not lose time in mustering our resources to defeat Daesh. Never forget that delay is Daesh’s ally, and the stakes are not only the survival of Iraq but also the security of the entire world.
Together, we have halted the terrorists’ momentum. Together, we will win a complete and enduring victory not only for the sake of my own country but for every country represented here and all the peoples of our planet.
Thank you all for everything we have done and everything we will do together.