Today EPIC shares with you some fascinating news. After a year-long campaign, with the support of 11,628 concerned citizens worldwide, including 8500 from across the United States, EPIC delivered its signed petition to President Obama, top officials in his administration, and key Congressional leaders, only days ahead of Iraq’s pivotal national parliamentary elections on Wednesday April 30th. EPIC’s Put Iraq Back on the Agenda Campaign calls on the U.S. government to articulate a clear and long-term strategy of diplomacy and assistance to Iraq and the region.
Consequently after the 2011 withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, President Obama spent nearly two years conspicuously avoiding all mention of Iraq. The “civilian surge” promised by his administration was short-lived. While US assistance to Iraq in FY 2012 exceeded $530 million, by FY 2013, actual US spending on Iraq had falled to only $104 million.
Today, Iraq is facing the worst violence since 2008. Over the past year, increased sectarian violence has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 and injured a lot more. In recent months, more than 71,500 families have been forced to flee their homes in Al Anbar province, adding to more than a million war-affected Iraqis who remain displaced by years of war. Additionally, Iraq is hosting as many as 250,000 Syria refugees.
The 11,628 supporting signatures came from a wide variety of people, including U.S.veterans of the Iraq war, students, aid workers, and young people from around the globe. These people stood together to remind President Obama and Congress that the United States should remain responsibly engaged in Iraq. EPIC’s petition pushes for the creation of a peace promotion and humanitarian development strategy in the country.
This tremendous support was very effective and caused an immediate impact. On November 1, President Obama finally ended his silence and met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki at the White House. Since then, the President has mentioned Iraq on multiple occasions, most recently in Brussels.
Today, and on behalf of everyone who worked on this campaign, EPIC would like to thank all of you who signed this petition and helped spread the word among your families and friends. With your support, EPIC can proudly say that Iraq is back on the agenda. However, the work is not over yet. Now it is time to for the White House and US Congress to prioritized supporting a long-term strategy that promotes peace and humanitarian development in all of Iraq.