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Thursday, 17 July 2014 - Strasbourg
Situation in Iraq

European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on the situation in Iraq (2014/2716(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Iraq, in particular that of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Iraq(1),

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Iraq, of the other, and to its resolution of 17 January 2013 on the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement(2),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Iraq, in particular those of 23 June 2014,

–  having regard to the statements by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Iraq,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, to which Iraq is a party,

–  having regard to the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief adopted on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Iraq,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa(3), its resolution of 24 March 2011 on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council(4) and its resolution of 3 April 2014 on the EU strategy towards Iran(5),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Iraq continues to face serious political, security and socioeconomic challenges, and whereas its political scene is extremely fragmented and plagued by violence and sectarian politics, to the severe detriment of the Iraqi people’s legitimate aspirations for peace, prosperity and a genuine transition to democracy; whereas Iraq is facing the most severe wave of violence since 2008;

B.  whereas the jihadist al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State (IS) – formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – conquered parts of north-western Iraq, including Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, followed by summary executions of Iraqi citizens, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, the destruction of the Shiite, Sufi, Sunni and Christian places of worship and shrines, and other atrocities against the civilian population;

C.  whereas the disintegration of the Iraqi-Syrian border has provided the IS with opportunities to enhance its presence in both countries; whereas the IS gains have been tolerated or even supported by parts of the disenchanted Sunni population and former Baathists; whereas on 29 June 2014 it was reported that the IS had proclaimed a ‘caliphate’, or ‘Islamic state’, in the territories it controlled in Iraq and Syria, and whereas its leader, Abdu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself as the caliph;

D.  whereas the IS has secured significant income sources by looting banks and businesses on territories it controls, taking over up to six oilfields in Syria, including Syria’s largest oil facility, the al-Omar field, close to the border with Iraq, and receiving funds from wealthy donors, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates;

E.  whereas the rapid surge of the IS has revealed the fragility of the Iraqi army and institutions which are plagued by corruption, sectarianism and the exclusivist policies of the government of the Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, which has led to substantial alienation of the Sunni and other minorities in Iraq;

F.  whereas military units of the Kurdish Regional Government took over the control of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk in the middle of June 2014, thus integrating decade-long disputed oil-rich territory into the Kurdish province, and whereas the Kurdish Government announced plans for a referendum among the Kurdish population to obtain independence from Iraq;

G.  whereas the EU has acknowledged the burden placed on the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistan Regional Government, which are hosting a large number of IDPs;

H.  whereas on 30 April 2014 parliamentary elections were held in Iraq which handed a majority to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s ‘Rule of Law’ bloc; whereas there has been a failure by the incumbent government to build a more inclusive society in Iraq; whereas there are increasing calls on al-Maliki not to seek a third term as prime minister and for a genuinely inclusive government to be formed instead; whereas the Shiite religious leader Ayatollah Sistani has called on all Iraqi parties to urgently reach a consensus on such a government, but the newly elected Iraqi parliament has so far failed to do so;

I.  whereas the United States of America, Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have provided support for the Government of Iraq; whereas the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has indicated readiness to cooperate with the US in countering the IS threat in Iraq, while extremist Sunni armed groups in the region, including the IS, have been receiving ideological support over the past years from actors in Saudi Arabia and certain Gulf countries;

J.  whereas hundreds of foreign fighters, including many from EU Member States, have reportedly joined the fighting alongside the IS; whereas the EU citizens in question are identified as a security risk by the governments of the Member States;

K.  whereas according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) there are an estimated 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in central and northern Iraq and an estimated 1.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance; whereas the upsurge of the IS has produced a humanitarian crisis, notably a massive displacement of civilians; whereas the EU has decided to increase its humanitarian assistance to Iraq by EUR 5 million to provide basic assistance to displaced people, thus bringing humanitarian funding for Iraq to EUR 12 million so far in 2014;

L.  whereas the Iraqi constitution guarantees equality for all citizens by law, along with the ‘administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the various nationalities’; whereas the Iraqi Government bears responsibility for ensuring that the rights, wellbeing and security of the whole population are guaranteed;

M.  whereas there are reports of the deliberate targeting of women and girls in Iraq and of kidnapping, rape and forced marriage by militants of the IS and other armed groups; whereas, according to the Human Rights Watch report of 12 July 2014, Iraqi security forces and government-affiliated militias appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners over the past month in apparent revenge for killings by Islamic State fighters,

N.  whereas up to 10 000 people from the predominantly Christian communities of Qaraqosh (also known as Al-Hamdaniya), a historic Assyrian town, fled their homes on 25 June 2014 after mortar rounds landed near the town; whereas since 2003 at least half of Iraq’s Christians are believed to have left the country; whereas according to Open Doors International the number of Christians in Iraq has significantly dropped from 1.2 million at the beginning of the 1990s to between 330 000 and 350 000 now;

1.  Expresses its deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq; strongly condemns the attacks perpetrated by the IS against Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi state, leading to summary executions, the imposition of a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, the destruction of places of worship and of the region’s historic, cultural and artistic heritage, and other atrocities; warns that the extreme anti-Shia and anti-Christian views of the IS increase the risk of sectarian killings on a massive scale, should the IS be allowed to hold on to the territory it has seized and to expand further;

2.  Strongly condemns attacks directed at civilian targets, including hospitals, schools and places of worship, and the use of executions and sexual violence in the conflict; underlines the fact that there should be no impunity for the perpetrators of these acts; is deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis and the massive displacement of civilians;

3.  Supports the Iraqi authorities in the fight against IS terrorism and other armed/terrorist groups, but emphasises that the security response needs to be combined with a sustainable political solution involving all the components of Iraqi society and addressing their legitimate grievances; stresses, further, that in the fight against terrorism human rights and international humanitarian law must be respected; urges the Iraqi Security Forces to act in line with international and national law and with respect for Iraq’s commitments to international agreements on human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls on the Iraqi Government and on all political leaders to take the necessary measures to provide security and protection for all people in Iraq, in particular members of vulnerable groups and religious communities;

4.  Rejects without reservation and considers illegitimate the announcement by the IS leadership that it has established a caliphate in the areas it now controls, and rejects the notion of any unilateral changes to internationally recognised borders by force while also respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of people in the IS-controlled territories;

5.  Stresses that the IS is subject to the arms embargo and assets freeze imposed by United Nations Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), and underlines the importance of prompt and effective implementation of those measures;

6.  Believes that the parliamentary elections held in Iraq on 30 April 2014 present an opportunity to create a truly representative government with an inclusive agenda; welcomes the election of the new speaker of the Iraqi parliament on 15 July 2014; urges all political leaders, especially Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to make sure that an inclusive government is formed as a matter of urgency; stresses that such a government should properly represent the political, religious and ethnic diversity of Iraqi society, in order to stop the bloodshed and the fragmentation of the country;

7.  Calls on all regional actors to contribute to efforts to promote security and stability in Iraq, and in particular to encourage the Iraqi Government to reach out to the Sunni minority and reorganise the army in an inclusive, non-sectarian and non-partisan way;

8.  Calls on all regional actors to do everything in their power to stop all activities by official or private bodies to propagate and spread extreme Islamist ideologies in words and acts; calls on the international community, especially the EU, to facilitate a regional dialogue on the problems facing the Middle East and include all significant parties, in particular Iran and Saudi Arabia;

9.  Underlines that the EU should develop a comprehensive policy approach to the region and, notably, that Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states need to be included as essential players in any de-escalation effort in Syria and Iraq;

10.  Stresses the need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in this time of crisis, notably freedom of expression, press freedom and digital freedoms;

11.  Takes note of the announcement by the Kurdistan Regional Government of a referendum for independence; appeals, however, to the parliament and the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, to uphold an inclusive process in respect of the rights of the non-Kurdish minorities living in the province;

12.  Voices concern at reports of hundreds of foreign fighters, including citizens of EU Member States, having joined the IS insurgency; further calls for international cooperation in order to take appropriate legal action against any individuals suspected of being involved in acts of terrorism;

13.  Welcomes the EU’s decision of 19 June 2014 to increase its humanitarian assistance to Iraq by EUR 5 million to provide basic assistance to displaced people, thus bringing humanitarian funding for Iraq to EUR 12 million so far in 2014;

14.  Reaffirms the EU’s commitment to strengthening its relationship with Iraq, including through the implementation of the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA); calls on the Council to continue assisting Iraq in promoting democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law, including by building on the experiences and achievements of the EUJUST LEX-Iraq mission; supports, also, the efforts of UNAMI and those of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq to assist the Government of Iraq in strengthening its democratic institutions and processes, promoting the rule of law, facilitating regional dialogue, improving the provision of basic services and ensuring the protection of human rights;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0171.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0023.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0207.
(4) OJ C 247 E, 17.8.2012, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0339.

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