US official urges Iraqi parties to expedite government formation

US official urges Iraqi parties to expedite government formation

WASHINGTON (RAHNUMA): A US official on Friday called on all Iraqi parties to work together and form a new government to prevent Iraq from sliding into instability and insecurity.

In a press briefing attended by Arab News, Jennifer Gavito, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, said it is critical that Iraqi parties work together so the US can continue to implement the strategic framework agreement with Iraq in support of its armed forces, economy and health sector.

Iraq held national elections last October in which Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr’s camp won 73 out 329 seats in Parliament, making it the largest single political bloc.

Other Shiite groups, especially the Fateh alliance that is affiliated with the Iran-backed Hashd Al-Shaabi militias, refused to concede defeat and contested the elections, preventing efforts to form a government.

“The current delaying of government formation is delaying our progress on bilateral issues and on all sectors including security, economy and cultural issues,” Gavito said.

“Once the government is formed, we’re looking forward to working with our Iraqi partners to implement our strategic framework agreement and continue to support the Iraqi armed forces to defeat ISIS (Daesh).”

Gavito said she traveled last month to Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, meeting with government and business leaders.

She added that she discussed important legal and political reforms that would help attract major US corporations in the energy and health sectors. “We’re committed to helping strengthen Iraqi sovereignty and democracy,” Gavito said.

She added that the US government is eager to work with a new Iraqi government on key issues of mutual interest such as economic empowerment for all Iraqis, anti-corruption measures and human rights protections.

Gavito said the US government does not have a position on which personalities should be involved in government formation, as that is up to Iraqis.

She added that security cooperation between the US and Iraq is ongoing, especially in terms of combating Daesh.

She said Washington will continue to build up Iraq’s military and security capacity as “the United States wants to see a strong and resilient Iraq.”

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