Iraqi Ambassador Outlines Iraq After First Election- April 2005

The H.E. Ambassador Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaida'ie (right) was trained as an engineer and studied in Iraq and the UK. He has had an extensive private sector business career, working for several international companies before starting his own company. He was an active political leader to fight the Saddam regime. He participated in numerous international conferences on the opposition movement, and in 2003 he became a member of the Governing Council of Iraq. In 2004, he was appointed as Minister of Interior Affairs. On Sept 15, 2004 he was appointed as Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN. Kaan Soyak is pictured on left.
The Ambassador described the Baghdad of the late 1930’s, when he was a boy. Life was gentle, steady, predictable, and his country had the best educational system in the region. As early as the 1930’s, Iraq had a women foreign minister and women were graduating with university degrees. Socially, the country was moving forward. However, during the 1950’s, the country had taken a turn for the worst. The Royal Family was removed and military rule was imposed in 1958. Non-elected government officials dictating to the governed ensued, and human liberties were restricted. In 1968, the Saddam era began. Under his rule, Iraq transformed as the "most authoritarian regime" in the region. Economic activity plummeted and many Iraqi citizens were traumatized, while educational opportunities diminished.
For decades, the opposition in exile labored to have Saddam removed. They lobbied the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as other counties for assistance. It was their view that without external intervention there was no hope to remove Saddam. The Ambassador stated that he is well aware of the controversy the intervention caused in the world community, especially in Europe. But he metaphorically stated that their was no choice: "Iraq was like a sore. It had to be lanced, and it had to be cleansed."
Since the removal of Saddam, Iraqi society has been adjusting from being "hermetically sealed" for decades. It had been highly traumatized and brutalized and a culture of violence pervaded. While there is an overlap of insurgency and ordinary criminal activity, some Iraqis continued the pervasive culture of violence, mainly by those who lost their position and privileges. These insurgents are not accepting liberation, despite the fact that the bulk of the citizens
are relieved. It is a law of nature that these "convulsions of adjustment" will gradually be diminished. In time, with the maturation of the political process and the help of the international community, tension will ease and Iraq will be nursed back to health, he emphasized. It is his view that the long term prospect is positive, despite the extreme difficulty. He openly stated that the gentle and secure Baghdad of his youth is currently, in many areas, a desolate and dangerous place. But despite this - as proven by the Iraqis who went out to vote and to say to the world "we are here"- resilience, spirit, and backbone will defeat the reactionary forces. Over the long time scale, Iraq will move in the right direction.
He pointed out that part of his job here in New York is to make sure that the international community does not lose its focus and continues its support for rebuilding Iraq. His country has to "face all the phantoms" that were released, but with the determination of the Iraq people, along with the assistance and understanding of the outside world, Iraq will prosper, he concluded.