01 Dec 2004

Europe and Iraq: From Stand-off to Engagement?

Richard Youngs

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Abstract: As of November 2004, persistent violence in Iraq and the legacy of opposition in some European countries to the US-led invasion continued to militate against more extensive EU engagement in the country. Europe’s absence has been felt most acutely in the security sphere, both in terms of troop deployments and the contribution to the training of Iraqi security forces. While European governments have valid criticisms over the coalition’s handling of Iraq’s post-conflict imperatives, and are right not to over-commit to Iraq under the present circumstances, there are nevertheless a number of areas where stronger European engagement might now be both possible and helpful. These include:
· economic projects in the areas least affected by violence;
· a discussion of Iraqi participation in some of the softer social and cultural aspects of EuroMed programmes;
· development of sub-national institution-building programmes;
· support for the development of a dense web of national institutions, such as syndicates, chambers of commerce and universities;
· capacity-building for emerging political parties;
· preparation of sub-national elections;
· elaboration of a more carefully thought through regional plan;
· training and capacity-building for border guards;
· broadening the scope of security sector reform assistance; and
· mediation with insurgents.