Helping hand

By Wang Bozun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/18 21:18:39

Iraq thanks China for assistance against terrorism and welcomes investment as country rebuilds


 

Iraqi Ambassador to China Ahmad Berwari Photo: Wang Bozun/GT

Editor's Note: 

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced victory over ISIS forces in the city of Mosul last week. It is considered a great advance in the global fight against terrorism.

On the occasion of Mosul's liberation, Global Times reporter Wang Bozun (GT) interviewed Iraqi Ambassador to China Ahmad Berwari (Berwari) on Friday, and talked about the anti-terrorism process in Iraq and Iraq's reconstruction in the future.

GT: After the victory in Mosul, how is the anti-terrorism process going in Iraq?

Berwari:
First of all, we are today celebrating at the embassy the big victory of Iraqi military and security forces against one of the most dangerous terror organizations in the world, Islamic State (ISIS). The victory in Mosul was very important for us in Iraq.

Because Mosul is the second biggest city after Baghdad, its location is very strategic. It is close to the border of Syria and Turkey, so from a military and security point of view, it was very important to liberate the city.

Second, it is a big symbolic defeat of ISIS in Iraq, because al-Baghdadi, the head of the so-called Islamic State, claimed the establishment of the state in the city of Mosul three years ago.

We started the military operation last year, which was very difficult, because we are responsible for the people living today in Mosul. It is not very easy for military and security forces to defeat terror organizations like ISIS, which have fighters who are able and ready to commit suicide and use innocent people as human shields.

Of course, the international coalition against ISIS and international supporters included help from friendly countries like the People's Republic of China. Without their support, it would not have been easy for the Iraqi forces to defeat ISIS and to liberate the city. The liberation of Mosul is not just a victory for Iraqis but also for the countries that supported Iraq, and even for the whole world.

GT: What is the plan of the Iraqi government to rebuild Mosul and the whole country's economy?

Berwari:
After the liberation of the city, there are many tasks that will have to be done. First of all, if you have seen the pictures of the city after the liberation, it is totally destroyed. We have to clean the remains of military operations and remove the explosives that have been left in the city. That means reopening the streets and reopening the bridges.

The second step would be to provide basic services for the people to attract them to go back. You cannot ask people to go back to their home without having electricity, water and other kinds of basic services.

The third step will be rebuilding of the infrastructure of the city. We don't want to leave the people in these camps for a long time. Therefore, we have to start immediately with basic services to call people to go back.

GT: What's your take on current Sino-Iraqi ties?

Berwari:
The relationship between the two countries has been always friendly, and we have reached a strategic level of relations. Economically, China is the biggest buyer of Iraqi oil. Chinese companies are working in our oil fields. China is also the biggest investor in rebuilding the oil and natural gas infrastructure in Iraq.

GT: Beside the oil sector, in what other fields do you think China and Iraq can cooperate?

Berwari:
In addition to the oil sector, because of the wars in the last 30 years, the main infrastructure in the country has been destroyed; we have to rebuild the whole infrastructure of the country, starting from oil, natural gas, energy and transportation to education, health, communication, agriculture and in other fields.

For example, there are already Chinese communication companies working in Iraq. The need for new media is huge in Iraq. There is a big opportunity for Chinese communication companies to work with Iraq.

The level of trade between the two countries is high. The amount of exchange last year was about $18 billion. It was interesting that the trade exchange is balanced, meaning we are exporting about 50 percent to China, while importing about 50 percent from China. That is a sign that our two countries are cooperating, especially in commercial issues, in a very good way.

Iraq was a country that exported agricultural products. Unfortunately, because of the wars, we are importing agricultural products. I think one of the things China could assist Iraq with in the future, as an example, is irrigation. It's well known that the Chinese companies are very advanced in irrigation technology and agricultural planting systems.

Defense cooperation between the two countries is also very important. For its stability and protecting its interests, Iraq needs a well-trained and well-armed army in the future. Therefore, cooperation with Chinese companies will continue in the future.

Intelligence cooperation is also needed. It's in our interest to work with others and exchange information in this field.

As an example, Iraq could benefit from the high technology capability of China in fighting terrorism, and we can provide our skills in fighting terrorism, sharing our experience in fighting such groups in urban areas.

GT: How do you see China's Belt and Road initiative? How does Iraq expect to cooperate within the framework of this initiative?

Berwari:
Of course this initiative is welcomed in Iraq. We are a part of the initiative officially. In 2015 during the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Beijing, we have signed a memorandum of understanding.

Economically there is no doubt that Iraq will be a part of this initiative, to take advantage of the achievements of the economic development of China and the other countries which are a part of the initiative.

We think it is also helpful not only for Iraq but also the countries in the Middle East. This initiative will help us find compromises to live together. Because if we are all part of this initiative, we have to work together.

Furthermore, it is not just the economic profits for us and this region from this initiative. It creates a peaceful climate and a way or a principle with peaceful means to treat each other in the Middle East. This is very needed now.



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