NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the bravery of Iraqi security forces and highlighted NATO support during an official visit to Iraq on 1 March 2016. Meeting with Prime Minister Al-Abadi, Mr. Stoltenberg commended the success of Iraqi forces in pushing ISIL back and retaking territory in Ramadi and elsewhere. He welcomed the government’s ongoing efforts to build confidence across Iraq’s different communities, which is vital for the country’s long-term stability.
Mr. Stoltenberg also underlined NATO’s commitment to an enduring partnership with Iraq. For over a decade, NATO and Iraq have worked together, enhancing security dialogue and promoting the development of Iraqi Security Forces through capacity building, education and training. This month, NATO will begin training Iraqi officers in Jordan, as part of NATO’s Defence Capacity Building Package for Iraq, the Secretary General said. Iraqi officers will receive training in key priority fields, including countering Improvised Explosive Devices, military medicine and civil-military planning. NATO experts will also provide advice for Iraq’s ongoing security sector reform efforts.
The Secretary General also met with President Fouad Massoum and Defence Minister Khaled al-Obaidi, underscoring NATO’s commitment to high-level political dialogue with Iraq. In his bilateral meetings, Mr. Stoltenberg highlighted NATO’s efforts to step up support for the Global Coalition to counter ISIL. Last month, NATO Defence Ministers agreed in principle to use NATO AWACS surveillance planes to backfill national AWACS capabilities, increasing the coalition’s ability to degrade and destroy ISIL. The Secretary General stressed that by working more closely together, NATO and Iraq can enhance stability in the Middle East region.
L. J. De Rothschild