Diplomatic representation increases in Iraq

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshiyar Zebari (right) and his UAE counterpart discuss bilateral relations at a press conference February 3rd. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshiyar Zebari (right) and his UAE counterpart discuss bilateral relations at a press conference February 3rd. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

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The United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority opened consulates in Erbil last week in what Iraqi officials and political analysts say is the latest example of how increased diplomatic representation is enhancing Iraq's foreign relations.

"The opening of the two consulates comes in the framework of cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the policy adopted by the regional government for openness to the outer world in general and the Arab world in particular," said Falah Mustafa, head of the Department of Foreign Relations in the Kurdish region. "It would also be a bridge for communication between the region and the countries concerned."

The announcement of the openings came after a meeting on February 5th between Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki with Brahim Salih, the Kurdish region's prime minister.

"The opening of consulates and diplomatic missions is an important step for enhancing and consolidating relations," Mustafa told Mawtani. "We welcome and encourage such steps that help in the process of building and development, not only in Kurdistan, but all over Iraq."

Last October, France opened a consulate in Dhi Qar province as part of its efforts to enhance cooperation between the local government in Dhi Qar and the French government. France later expressed a desire to open another consulate in Anbar province.

Armenia also expressed interest in opening a consulate in Dhi Qar province last December, and coordination is now under way with the provincial government to realize that goal.

Germany is also strengthening its ties to the region. German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel said in a press conference last week in Erbil that the German Society for International Cooperation was preparing to open an office in the city next May.

"Germany will send experts to Erbil to support human development programs in the region and all over Iraq and to promote its activities in the country," Niebel said.

Erbil hosts 20 consulates and a number of secondary offices of foreign embassies, including ones from Turkey, Germany, Egypt, Italy, Sweden, France, Britain, South Korea and Russia.

"The opening of consulates in the region will help facilitate the flow of trade and operation of capital," said political analyst Ribin Rasoul. "The government in the region is providing many facilities, such as the basic requirements, which are almost free of charge."

Citizens in Erbil said the recent developments were positive for the region and all Iraqis.

"The increase in the number of consulates in the region will help facilitate travel for us as young people to get to see the world," said Arshad Suran, 32, a university student in Erbil. "It is also an important step for investment in the region and the restoration of infrastructure to the area."

Saman Ibrahim, 33, a resident of Erbil, noted the multifaceted importance of strengthening diplomatic ties.

"The opening of consulates in a number of areas across the country, including the Kurdistan region, has special importance given that it provides these areas with greater investment opportunities through what it achieves in terms of economic, scientific and developmental cooperation with different countries," he said.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    موسی

    2011-3-28

    Why don’t you come to a mutual understanding with Iranian authorities regarding the opening of Iranian Banks in Iraqi cities? Is it not helpful for Iraq’s development?!

  • جلال امين لطيف

    2011-3-5

    I would like to criticize the Arabs who did not open their embassies in Iraq until after the stabilization of the situation. Is it because of fear, or to not open communication between the two countries, or to cut off relations with Iraq? However, I would like to thank all those who have supported Iraq from the first moment, such as the Emirati embassy which supports Iraq despite the difficult circumstances, especially in the capital, Baghdad, and particularly in the Al Mansour district. In fact, the Emirati ambassador was subjected to danger, kidnapped and shown on the television networks. The embassy was closed for a short period to replace the staff, and then it was re-opened again. There are also other embassies that stayed in Iraq despite the difficult circumstances, while the rest of the Arab countries did not open their embassies in Iraq until after the return of stability and calm. In fact, they did not share Iraq’s moments of distress. So why did they want to share in its moments of prosperity? Where were they when Iraq and the Iraqis needed these embassies? Thank God for everything, because the difficult situations reveal human nature. Thus, I want to criticize the Arabs who came late, after the stabilization of Iraq. In fact, Iraqis know the real people and truthful brothers who supported them in the difficult and dangerous situations, especially since they faced death to defend Iraq and to support it in its most difficult and intractable situations.

  • رعد سعيد

    2011-3-5

    I want to criticize the stance of the Arabs who came late to give their support and to open their embassies in Iraq, especially since Arabs are known for their kindness, chivalry and generosity, which were not shown during Iraq’s hardships, in which the Iraqi people needed support. However, now it is too late!!! Thus, why do they open their embassies at this time? Therefore I criticize the Arabs, because they opened their embassies in Iraq only after the return of safety and security. I hope that Iraq will be stable anew and regain its prosperity to provide the good for the people. In fact, Iraqis are not in need of support from anybody, especially since the Arabs turned a deaf ear when the Iraqis were screaming, asking for help. Thus, we thank God because Iraq overcame the difficult situations, and we also pray to God to spread peace in the country of peace.

  • عدي عبدالرزاق

    2011-3-3

    Arabs are spineless, and none of the Arab and Gulf countries think of anyone except themselves. The Arabs do not collaborate, so God will not guide them and will not do good for them. We now see what happens in the Arab States in terms of misfortunes, because they do not love one another. Unfortunately, they are not thinking of opening their embassies in Iraq until security is achieved, and this is a shame, because they do not want to unite. Today, Iraq is passing through a difficult crisis, and they should support it. They should not leave Iraq alone, as they may experience the same situation and these bad conditions. Such an act is a deed of villainy and shame. It has been said that a friend in need is a friend indeed. But the Arab countries have looted the fortunes of Iraq, and now they do not want to open their embassies in Iraq. They do not want to help Iraq; God alone knows everything, and He will make Iraq better than it was before, and then Iraq will vanquish all its enemies. The stability of Iraq is coming soon, God willing, and we will prove that to the whole world. The Arab summit that will be held in Baghdad is the best proof of the success of Iraq, and it will prove that it can offer a good atmosphere for holding this summit. We ask God to reconcile Iraq and unite its word, and raise it high with knowledge and work.

  • كريم جبار

    2011-2-25

    Every Arab was supposed to stand with Iraq, the country that stood with many of the Arab issues and helped the Arab countries a lot. A change has taken place in this country, and it was expected that all the Arab countries would rise up to support the situation in Iraq and back the new government, instead of withdrawing and waiting until security was relatively stable in Iraq to open their embassies in the country. When there are no embassies, this means that there is no formal recognition and no relations or exchange between two countries. I think that the Arabs are to be blamed, because the position of many Arab countries was not supportive, under the pretext that Iraq was an occupied country and its government was not legitimate. But first, the government was elected by the people, and secondly, I think that foreign forces exist and have bases in all Arab countries; why is Iraq the only one to be considered occupied? These are flimsy arguments and evidence of their fear, as they did not want to help Iraq at the time that Iraq was in dire need of these neighboring countries to stand at its side.

  • احمد باسم عبود

    2011-2-25

    The governments, after the fall of the dictator Saddam, abandoned Iraq and did not stand with it, because they did not open their embassies there. Iraq is not Saddam Hussein, but it seems that they opened their embassies for Saddam. Will relationships continue to be established for the sake of the presidents? Relations and diplomatic representation are not confined to one person; it is a relationship between two countries and their peoples, and Iraq does not deserve to be given up on by the Arab brothers as they allege. Instead of supporting Iraq and holding conventions and opening embassies, the opposite happened. Most of the governments stood idle during those difficult circumstances, in which Iraq started to restore its power alone. Others began to work on the destruction of Iraq, through clear and explicit support for al-Qaeda, and by sending the terrorist elements to destroy Iraq and keep it from establishing democracy, for fear that the move toward democracy coulld reach them and threaten their thrones, which they have occupied for years. Let all the Arab countries know that everything is considered a debt, and Iraq and will rise up again and return to play its great role in the region, and then it will be possible to receive payment for the debt from them.

  • محمد عبدالكريم

    2011-2-21

    The Arab countries have not opened embassies to represent them in Iraq. After all the excuses and reasons have faded away, the most important reason is the clear lack of stability on the security side. This has led to some despair in the Iraqi government, which is entertaining great hopes that the Arab countries will help Iraq get out of the current crisis. We all hope that the Arabs rise up in the near future and open embassies in Iraq, for diplomatic exchange and for the establishment of strong relationships between the Arab countries, and to overcome all the differences that occurred in the past in order to communicate in the development processes, the exchange of experiences and trade between Arab countries and Iraq, which is an important part of this nation, as it has a long history.