Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FACT SHEET: U.S.-Iraq Cooperation

The White House issued the following today after US President Barack Obama met with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET: U.S.-Iraq Cooperation

The strategic partnership between the United States and the Republic of Iraq spans a wide-range of sectors, consistent with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.  Below is a selection of key areas of cooperation that demonstrates the expansiveness of this important bilateral relationship.
Defense and Security:  The United States and Iraq are committed to promoting stability in Iraq and the region through an enduring partnership that supports our goal to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, enhances Iraqi defense capabilities, re-establishes the security of Iraq’s borders, modernizes its forces, and supports Iraq’s contributions to regional security.

  • The United States and Iraq have made progress in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  In the past eight months, more than 1,900 U.S. and coalition airstrikes have blunted ISIL’s momentum in Iraq and degraded its military capability.  As a result of this coordinated effort ISIL has lost control of approximately 25 to 30 percent of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq.  Iraqi forces have retaken critical areas of the country, including the Mosul Dam, Sinjar Mountain, Diyala, Tikrit, and areas near Kirkuk.  In both Iraq and Syria, over 3,200 U.S. and coalition strikes have damaged or destroyed over 5,780 ISIL targets including 75 tanks and 285 Humvees in ISIL control, 1,166 ISIL fighting positions, and 151 oil infrastructure-related targets that ISIL operated.
  • Teams of U.S. and coalition personnel are supporting efforts to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including Peshmerga forces,  in planning military operations, intelligence sharing, integrating air support and land operations, managing logistics, command and control of forces, and communications.  These teams are also assisting the Iraqi government as they train and equip Sunni tribal fighters as recruits into the Popular Mobilization Forces in Anbar and Ninewa provinces. 
  • Since the fall of 2014, the United States has delivered essential equipment to Iraq as a critical component of the coalition fight against ISIL, including: over 100 million rounds of ammunition, 62,000 small arms systems, 1,700 Hellfire missiles, and six M1A1 tanks.  In addition, the U.S. provided to the Government of Iraq 250 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in December 2014 and January 2015, 25 of which were subsequently provided to Kurdish forces in Erbil.  The Peshmerga received 1,000 Anti-Tank Missiles that were delivered through the Government of Iraq.  As of this week, an additional 50 MRAPs with mine rollers will be on their way to Iraq.  In addition to ammunition and vehicles, the United States has also delivered over 12,000 rifles, body armor, helmets, and first aid kits – the equivalent of roughly 5-6 brigades’ worth of individual soldier weapons and equipment.  The United States continues to work with the Government of Iraq to deliver their F-16 fighter aircraft to Iraq, and there are currently 30 Iraqi Air Force pilots in the training pipeline. 
  • Deliveries and donations from coalition countries have also been critical to the equipping effort. The coalition has conducted over 70 flights carrying over 5 million pounds of materiel donated by 17 countries, to support the Government of Iraq’s fight against ISIL. 
  • The $1.6-billion Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) has enabled the United States to provide training and equipment to the ISF, including Peshmerga troops and tribal volunteers, with strong support from coalition partners.  Four Building Partner Capacity sites have been established, in Al Asad, Besmayah, Taji, and Erbil - and almost 6,500 ISF, including Peshmerga, have already completed instruction, with more than 4,900 currently in training.  Additional equipment funded by ITEF has also begun to arrive in Iraq including individual soldier gear and weapons.  Armored vehicles, communications systems, and other equipment and munitions to support roughly 20,000 Iraqi fighters will follow shortly. 
  • Foreign Military Financing (FMF)—grants for the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services, and training—will continue to support the long-term development of ISF capabilities.  Since 2013, $771 million in FMF and more than $2.5 million in International Military Education and Training has gone towards the development of Iraq’s military.  FMF has supported ISF logistics capacity building, professionalization and training, platform-specific sustainment, border security, and equipment to support Iraqi counter terrorism forces. 

Political, Diplomatic, and Humanitarian Assistance: The United States supports Iraq’s efforts to develop an inclusive government that promotes security, prosperity and human rights for all Iraqis, and to enhance ties with its regional neighbors. 

  • The United States is providing an additional $205 million in humanitarian assistance to assist millions of Iraqi civilians – both refugees in the region and internally displaced persons within the country – who have been affected by ISIL attacks and previous instability, providing them with food, shelter, water, medical services, cash assistance, and other essential goods and services.  It will help displaced persons and refugees obtain legal documentation, strengthen child protection, and improve management at IDP camps.  With this new funding, the United States has provided more than $407 million in humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people since the start of fiscal year 2014. 
  • The United States is working closely with Iraq and coalition members to help Iraq develop a plan to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL-control and to identify resources to support Iraqi stabilization efforts and facilitate their delivery.  In March, a team of stabilization experts from the United States joined experts from the coalition and the United Nations in a conference with the Government of Iraq to assess the government’s readiness to address the immediate needs of liberated areas.
  • Strengthening Iraq’s federal system is a key plank of Prime Minister Abadi’s national program, and is a key pillar of the Government of Iraq’s strategy to improve governance and stabilize the country.  The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Service Delivery Project (Taqadum) supports the Government of Iraq's efforts to decentralize responsibilities for service delivery from three central ministries, which serves as a model from which other national ministries can emulate.  We are also committed to supporting inclusive governance in Iraq and promoting reconciliation.  The State Department is targeting over $17 million in fiscal year 2014 funding for programs which include activities to address human rights and rule of law as well as atrocities prevention and accountability issues – key areas for building reconciliation and contributing to the stabilization of Iraq.

EnergyThe United States and Iraq are committed to the secure, efficient, resilient, and transparent development of Iraq’s electricity, oil, and gas sectors in an effort to build a strong economy that is capable of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people and bringing greater stability to world markets.

  • The United States and the Government of Iraq, acting pursuant to a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, have developed a Joint Action Plan to address energy cooperation and the protection of critical infrastructure.  In April 2015, the United States and Iraq completed the first phase of the Work Plan for Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection, which prioritizes strategic projects for U.S. and Iraqi collaboration in securing Iraq’s energy infrastructure.
  • The Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program brought together U.S. and international experts to share their natural gas contracting expertise with contract specialists in Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Electricity in March 2014.

Trade & FinanceThe United States and Iraq support the development of a prosperous and diversified Iraqi economy that is integrated into the global economic system and also efforts to partner on programs to develop Iraq’s economy, expand bilateral trade, enhance macroeconomic and fiscal stability, and protect Iraqi financial institutions from exploitation by ISIL.

  • During the inaugural Trade and Investment Framework Agreement meeting in March 2014, Iraq and the United States addressed trade issues that would improve the U.S. – Iraq bilateral trade and investment relationship.  Iraq committed to improving its business climate, and the United States– through a series of ongoing capacity building and training engagements across Iraq’s relevant Ministries – remains committed to support these efforts.
  • U.S. companies remain actively engaged in Iraq.  U.S. goods exports to Iraq increased by approximately 4.2 percent and U.S. imports from Iraq rose 3 percent from 2013 to 2014. Several U.S. franchises established or expanded branches in Iraq.  The cities of Houston and Basrah have strengthened their bilateral trade as well as their educational and cultural exchanges through the existing Basrah – Houston City Partnership. 
  • In July 2014 the Central Bank of Iraq issued directives to Iraqi financial institutions within ISIL-held territory to cease financial activity. The Department of the Treasury continues to engage with the Central Bank of Iraq to ensure these directives are implemented and restrict ISIL’s access to the Iraqi and international financial systems.
  • In response to a request from the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, the United States is planning to provide targeted technical expertise on public financial management issues pending Congressional approval of funding.  The program will help the Government of Iraq mitigate the fiscal impacts arising from ISIL’s attacks and a precipitous drop in oil prices.
  • The United States and Iraq are eager to spur private sector development in Iraq.  USAID's Administrative Reform project (Tarabot) works with Iraqi ministries to streamline regulations and improve procurement processes in order to better manage resources and create business opportunities. 

Education and Culture: The United States and Iraq strongly support a strengthened Iraqi higher education system, the preservation and promotion of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage, and expansion of educational, cultural, and professional exchanges between our nations.

  • During the 2013-2014 academic year, nearly 1,500 Iraqi students attended U.S. universities, an increase of 33 percent over the previous year.  The United States continues to work with the Iraqi government to expand its networks of partner institutions and increase its engagement with U.S. universities.
  • Each year approximately 500 Iraqis participate in U.S. government academic, cultural, and professional exchange programs. 
  • From 2010-2014, the Iraq University Linkage Program linked seven U.S. universities with seven Iraqi universities to develop curricula, train faculty, improve English language training capacity, and create career centers to facilitate job placement.
  • The United States returned to the Government of Iraq numerous items of cultural heritage that had been removed unlawfully from Iraq and seized by Department of Homeland Security agents, including the sculptured head in the style of the Assyrian King Sargon II. U.S. funding in support of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) has provided technical expertise in a variety of preservation areas to Iraqi antiquities specialists from throughout the country. 
  • The United States supported major renovations to the galleries, storerooms, laboratories, and climate control systems of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which has just reopened to the Iraqi public.   Through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the State Department has invested nearly $3 million since 2010 in emergency stabilization and conservation of the Ishtar gate and other major structures and artifacts in Babylon.