Remarks by SRSG for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, to the press following his meeting with His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in Najaf, Iraq: (edited for brevity)
29 November 2017
First of all, I am extremely honoured that I was once again received by His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. It is a great honour for us - the United Nations - and for me personally. And I value, not only the fact that I was received, but also that we had an in-depth discussion about what is on the agenda of the country, of Iraq, and I was listening to the points His Eminence was making on as a guidance for future activities, future steps.
And I was able to confirm that we share the same concerns, and we share also the approach of the way forward in most, if not all, the cases and situations.
And I confirmed to His Eminence that for us, and that was also confirmed through the meeting, the full respect of the constitution and laws of the country in all situations being it as regards Baghdad-Erbil relations or as regards the elections in the country and in all other cases is something that guides us and will guide us in our activities. And we cannot support any violations of the constitution, laws of the country.
The second point: I, once again, highly acknowledged, the human aspect of the guidance; of His Eminence, that showed itself in so many ways when he has been speaking either himself or through the regular Friday sermons on issues like the necessity to take care of the families of the martyrs and survivors of the fight against Daesh; to take care about the future of the young population in Iraq, urging the government to create conditions for that; to take care about the internally displaced persons (IDPs), and to create conditions for their return; or to protect civilians while fighting Daesh and destroying this takfiri criminal, terrorist organisation.
And I confirmed that, for us, these priorities are also our priorities. For example, the importance of the return of IDPs to their homes with dignity, voluntary return to the basic conditions. I also confirmed that we, as the United Nations, will accelerate support for this return to the people and to the government to enable at least a minimum level of reconstruction but also the appropriate level of security that would at the same time create a barrier against repeating attacks of the terrorist Daesh that otherwise are still happening.
The third point: I again confirmed to His Eminence our support for the reform programme of the government, for implementation of the proclaimed objectives, for example, when fighting corruption. We will provide assistance and we hope that the government will resolutely move against those corrupt individuals, not only to take action against them, but also to retrieve the funds that they embezzled and to bring these funds back to serve the needs of the people.
Finally, and I started with this in our meeting, I would like to use this opportunity once again to congratulate the government and the people of Iraq with this victory against the terrorist Daesh. The structures of the Daesh were crushed, still the work against terrorism must continue because there are still individuals that would try to continuously use this opportunity; but the victory is there and it is through the sacrifices of the people of Iraq. And I applaud this; and I express my sympathies to all the martyrs and their families.
Q: Does His Eminence agree with your approach on fighting corruption and the corrupt people?
A: This is an area and approach which we share and I was very happy to hear a very strong line from His Eminence speaking about the need to fight corruption, in acts not only in words. This is something that we would like to support.
Q: The position of the United Nations vis-a-vis the fight against terrorism and the Iraqis fighting terrorism on behalf of the world. The role of the United Nations was marginal. There has been no serious position; Daesh was not set as a terrorist organisation; individuals of Daesh, property and assets have not been frozen. What is the position of the United Nations in this regard?
A: I beg to disagree. The position of the United Nations was very clear. It labelled Daesh as a terrorist organisation, as a global threat to security. Through different bodies of the United Nations in New York, measures were taken against the flow of terrorism from abroad to join the ranks as foreign fighters in favour of Daesh. Increasingly, we see that also financing of these terrorist organisation is curtailed and more and more individuals that provided assistance will be punished for this. Approximately two months ago, the Security Council adopted a resolution that creates a special investigative mechanism that will deal with the crimes of Daesh, crimes that are war crimes, and crimes against humanity and that would then create openings to punishment of individual members of Daesh for their criminal activities. And all this is happening in support and in coordination with the Government of Iraq.
Q: You mentioned that the United Nations is supporting Iraq and constitution and it will not allow the referendum. But you have supported the separation of Kurdistan from Iraq. Why the al-Nujaba'e and Asaib al-Haq, the resistance groups, who have uprooted Daesh especially in the liberated areas and put them on the terrorist list?
A: On the first question, I do not know from where you took that we supported the separation. On the contrary, the position of the Security Council, the position of the United Nations and the position of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and my position, has been in favour of unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. And we are publicly on the record on this. So, whoever is saying something else is fabricating and as in some other parts of the world are saying these are fake news.
Secondly, as regards the popular mobilisation forces and different components of the popular mobilisation forces, when I speak about respect for the laws of the country I speak also about respecting also the popular mobilisation law and I would like to see the full implementation of this law by, among others, concentrating the weapons in the hands of the State only but also in providing support for restructuring and reorganisation of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Q: What's the position of the United Nations vis-a-vis the elections. There are calls from outside Iraq to interfere in the postponement of the elections. What's the position of the United Nations that you support the full government of Abadi to fight corruption and continue the democratic process in Iraq?
A: Once again, for us there is no bigger guidance than full respect of the constitution of the country, I can confirm that for us, holding of the elections within the constitutional time frame - it means by the middle of May next year, as requested by the constitution, is our position as well. So, we support and will provide technical assistance to the electoral management bodies to enable them to hold the elections on time according to the constitution.