NATO’s relations with Iraq
Over recent years, NATO has developed relations with a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. Iraq is counted among these countries, which are referred to as “partners across the globe”. Building on cooperation that has developed through the NATO Training Mission in Iraq from 2004 to 2011, NATO and Iraq have agreed to enhance their security dialogue and to promote the further development of the Iraqi Security Forces through capacity building, education and training.
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 institutions and to cultivate the expertise of its national defence academies. 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.
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 courses each year.
A NATO Transition Cell operated in Baghdad from June 2012 to end May 2013 to ensure a smooth transition from the NTM-I to a regular partnership programme. This helped the Iraqi government to develop an inter-agency mechanism, the Iraqi Coordination Cell, to determine what capabilities the country needed to develop and facilitate the design and implementation of its cooperation with NATO.
The signing of the NATO-Iraq cooperation programme on 24 September 2012, by NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow and Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh Al-Fayyadh, marked the formal accession of Iraq to NATO’s “partnership family”. This accord reflects NATO’s commitment to the growing role Iraq plays in building regional stability, peace and democracy. The main areas of cooperation include education and training, response to terrorism, counter-IED, explosive ordnance disposal, defence Institution building and communication strategy.