On March 31st Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI) held a media roundtable event at the Riga Astor Hotel to call attention to urgent matters in Iraq
PAFI President Sheik Jamal al-Dhari led the event, which also featured Chairwoman Harita Tohme, and PAFI policy analyst Dace Peipina. In attendance were members of European and Latvian media as well as a delegation from the United States.
Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari, a leader of the al-Zoba tribe in Iraq, highlighted the systemic failures of the national government and international community in addressing terrorism in Iraq. As a result, ISIS has been allowed to flourish in Iraq and coordinate terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East and Europe. The current strategy to combat Daesh is leaving Iraq’s cities in ruins, with uninhabitable states of poverty, famine, and disease.
“The cities that have been liberated from Daesh (ISIS) have been completely destroyed. Over 80% of the city of Ramadi was destroyed during the operations. This will require years of rebuilding and millions of dollars to restore life to these regions,” Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari noted.
Sheikh al-Dhari went on to explain the many issues contributing to ISIS and the problems in the country:
“The Iraqi government has proven itself to be utterly incapable of countering the power of ISIS. The government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is rife with corruption, graft, and incompetent leadership. It is supporting and relying on Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias to combat ISIS; themselves committing atrocities and war crimes against Iraqi civilians.”
PAFI believes political reform is essential to remedy the terrorist threat and relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people.
“Despite the problems Iraq is experiencing, we can take real, tangible steps to resolve these issues. Iraqis are ready to come together and overcome these difficult challenges yet we will need support from the international community to accomplish these goals. This has been my mission and it is why I founded PAFI,” Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari commented.
Also announced at the event were the upcoming PAFI conferences: “Defeating Daesh and Reforming Iraq” – to be held on June 14th in Riga, and the Mosul Dam Crisis Symposium on April 19th and 20th in Rome, Italy.
On June 14, 2016, the “Defeating Daesh and Reform Iraq – Riga Conference” will bring together partners from the U.S., Europe, and Middle East to provide solutions to the problems the people of Iraq are currently facing and work toward developing a national reconciliation process.
The work of PAFI focuses on bringing together the various segments of Iraqi society – Sunni, Shia, Kurdish – under a unifying national identity based on inclusive citizenship and civil cooperation. Further, PAFI calls for, and is working towards, a broad international support effort to aid the Iraqi’s in their efforts.
Another point of discussion in the press conference was the ongoing crisis of the Mosul Dam. PAFI urges the international community to recognize a humanitarian disaster in the making – the Mosul Dam crisis.
The dam, 60 km north of Mosul, is currently corroding and requires immediate repairs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deemed the dam to have a “high risk” of failure in the near future. If the dam collapses, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq estimates that up to 1.4 million Iraqis could be killed as a result.
The Mosul Dam Symposium, to be held on April 19 and 20 in Rome, Italy will bring together experts and engineers to provide information and solutions to deal with the dam.