Iraqi MP praises 'co-habitation' success

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The chair of Iraq's foreign affairs committee has told MEPs that his country should be seen as "an example of democracy" in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Giving evidence to his counterparts in Brussels on 16 September 2013, Humam Hamoudi said the state of Iraq had "achieved its secular status", despite an increase of sectarian violence in recent months.

He insisted that Iraq could be a "true model of co-habitation and co-existence" that could serve as an example for other countries in the region.

After years of violence following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, the last US troops left Iraq at the end of 2011.

However the country has seen a spill-over of violence from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, which has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in Iraq this year, mainly in targeted attacks by Sunni militants.

In recent weeks, Iraqi security forces have arrested hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members around Baghdad as part of an operation described by the Shia-led government as "Revenge for the martyrs".

Mr Hamoudi warned that "Jihadist" elements in the Syrian opposition movement were leading to instability in Iraq, and said his government did not have the logistical means to deal with the increase in car bombs and suicide attacks.

The chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to Iran, Finnish MEP Tarja Cronberg, questioned how the Iraqi government would engage with the new president of neighbouring Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

Mr Hamoudi said the new president would play a vital role in negotiations with western governments over nuclear issues, and said that Iraq could act as "mediator" between Iran and the US.

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