Relations with Iraq
NATO and Iraq are engaged in political dialogue and practical cooperation aimed at developing the capacity of Iraq’s security forces, its defence and security institutions, and its national defence academies.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the President of the Republic of Iraq, Fouad Massoum (March 2016)
- Iraq is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – often referred to as "partners across the globe" – with which NATO is developing relations.
- Relations build on cooperation that developed through the NATO Training Mission in Iraq from 2004 to 2011, during which 15,000 Iraqi officers were trained.
- In September 2012, a jointly agreed Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme was signed to provide a framework for political dialogue and tailored cooperation.
- At the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed in July 2015 on a package of defence capacity building measures to provide assistance in a number of priority areas, including: countering improvised explosive devices, explosive ordnance disposal and demining, security sector reform, military medicine and civil military planning.
- The first phase of training was launched in April 2016, with a ‘train-the-trainers’ course provided to 350 Iraqi officers in Jordan.
- Alongside the ongoing training in Jordan, NATO Allies agreed in July 2016 to provide a training and capacity building effort within Iraq, alongside the ongoing training in Jordan; in-country activities are expected to start by January 2017.
More background information
Cooperation between NATO and Iraq is based on principles of respect for sovereignty, international law, joint ownership and mutual benefit. The partnership serves to anchor and bolster Iraq’s capacity to contribute constructively to regional security. It reflects NATO’s long-standing commitment to the development of Iraq’s capabilities to address shared challenges and threats.
Through a jointly agreed Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, NATO and Iraq are undertaking further efforts to develop the capacity of Iraq’s security and defence institutions. This programme provides a framework for political dialogue and for training cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, crisis management and critical energy infrastructure protection.
At the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, Allied leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the NATO-Iraq partnership and expressed readiness to consider measures in the framework of NATO’s Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative. This initiative was launched to strengthen the Alliance’s contribution to international security, stability and conflict prevention. It is demand-driven and offers partners – at their request – assistance beyond what is available under existing programmes, building on NATO's extensive expertise in providing advice, assistance, support, training, education and mentoring activities in the defence and related security sector.
Following a request from Prime Minister Al-Abadi, a DCB package for Iraq was agreed by Allies in July 2015. It includes assistance measures in the areas of countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED), explosive ordnance disposal and demining; military medicine and medical assistance; advice on security sector reform; civil-military planning support to operations; civil emergency planning and preparedness; cyber defence; and military training.
Training is currently being provided at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Jordan in the most immediate priority areas of C-IED, military medicine and civil-military planning. NATO is currently assessing the possibility of conducting training and capacity building inside Iraq, alongside the ongoing training in Jordan.
Prior to the closure of the NATO Training Mission in Iraq (NTM-I) in December 2011, NTM-I staff played a major role in enabling the partnership between NATO and Iraq, matching requests from Iraqi ministries with areas of cooperation open to NATO partners, and coordinating the participation of some 500 Iraqi officers and officials in out-of-country courses each year.
2004: The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) is established, at the request of the Iraqi interim government and in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, to help Iraq create effective armed forces by providing training and mentoring, and donating equipment.
2011: The NTM-I is discontinued due to the lack of an agreement on the legal status of NATO troops operating in the country.
June 2012: A temporary one-year NATO Transition Cell opens in Baghdad to ensure a smooth transition from the NTM-I to a regular partnership programme and to helping the Iraqi government to develop an inter-agency mechanism to determine what capabilities the country needs to develop.
24 September 2012: The NATO-Iraq Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme is signed, focusing mainly on education and training, response to terrorism, countering improvised explosive devices, explosive ordnance disposal, and defence institution building.
31 July 2015: Following a request of the Iraqi government for assistance through the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative, NATO Allies agree on a DCB package, on the basis of Iraqi requirements.
1 March 2016: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets Prime Minister Al-Abadi during an official visit to Iraq. He commends the success of Iraqi forces in pushing ISIL back and welcomed the government’s ongoing efforts to build confidence across Iraq’s different communities, which is vital for the country’s long-term stability.
April 2016: Training for Iraqi security forces under the DCB Initiative is launched in Jordan, with 350 officers being trained between April and November 2016.
19 May 2016: NATO foreign ministers agree that NATO should do more to project stability beyond the Alliance’s borders by training up local forces to build their capacity to secure their own territory and push back against extremist groups.
9 July 2016: At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allied leaders reaffirm their commitment to a long-term partnership with Iraq, as well as to assisting the country through the DCB Initiative agreed at the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014. Building on current DCB efforts hosted by Jordan, Allies agree to a request from the Iraqi government to provide in-country NATO training to Iraqi security and military forces to continue to support institutional capacity building. (Activities are expected to start in Iraq by January 2017).
18 October 2016: Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim Al-Jaafari visits NATO HQ for talks with NAO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the Alliance’s support to Iraq as well as political and security developments, including the ongoing fight to liberate Mosul.