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On Tuesday, the UN special envoy for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, called on Iraqi leaders to engage in dialogue to end political impasses in the country.
"It is time for Iraq's leaders - all of them - to engage in dialogue, collectively define core Iraqi needs and pull the country back from the ledge. In other words, all leaders should assume responsibility and return the spotlight where it must be: on the people of Iraq," the special envoy told the Security Council meeting on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The absence of a functioning government in Iraq one year after elections were held is hard to justify, the top UN official in the country said, urging political leaders to put aside their differences for the common good.
She said their protracted inaction had sparked protests and counter-protests, culminating in deadly clashes this past August.
"These tragic developments are indisputably the result of the inability of Iraq's political class to cast the die," she added.
"In other words: actors across the spectrum failed to place the national interest first. They left the country in a prolonged impasse, further fueling already simmering anger."
Hennis-Plasschaert said the situation remains highly volatile. Although parliament resumed in late September, clashes occurred between protestors and security forces, among other acts of violence.
"And we have not seen the end of it yet. Last night, after three days of rocket attacks, Basra witnessed intense fighting, while smaller incidents were reported in other southern governorates," she said.
Despite renewed calls for elections, she wondered what guarantees are in place to ensure they will not again be held in vain.
Oct. 1 marked three years since thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in nationwide anti-corruption protests. Several hundred people were killed and many more were severely injured, abducted, threatened, or intimated.
The protests resulted in the previous government stepping down, and in early elections held last October.
"In other words, and I said it often: last year's elections were extremely hard-earned. And with this in mind, the absence of a functioning government 12 months later is hard to justify," she said.
Hennis-Plasschaert, who also heads UNAMI, has been supporting national dialogue.
While reluctant to discuss initiatives publicly, the envoy revealed that she has held "intense engagements" with the parties, including holding bilateral meetings on potential roadmaps and conducting shuttle diplomacy.
"Believe me, we tried. Non-stop. That said, we do not have a magic wand. Ultimately, it all comes down to political will," she told the council.
She said all sides have made "strategic mistakes and miscalculations" since the election, and they have missed valuable opportunities to resolve their differences.
Regarding solutions, Hennis-Plasschaert highlighted the need for "genuine and timely dialogue" alongside a willingness to compromise. She said that delivering a functioning government is merely the first step to overcoming the current crisis.