Ibrahim al-Jaafari

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Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Foreign Minister of Iraq

Your History

You are Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Foreign Minister of Iraq. You are a medical doctor, and you’ve been one of the most prominent leaders of Iraq in the 21st century. You served briefly as the Prime Minister of Iraq starting in 2005, after your United Iraqi Alliance, tacitly backed by Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, received nearly half of the vote in the 2005 transitional election that was a key step in the transition from the control of Iraq by the US-led coalition to Iraqi leadership. Under your leadership, most observers felt that the Iraqi government pursued a policy of excluding Iraqi Sunnis from positions of power, a policy that was even more determinedly executed under Nouri al-Maliki, who took over as Prime Minister in 2006 after you left the Prime Ministership, blamed for a lack of success at providing needed services to Iraqis, and strongly opposed by Sunnis and Kurds as well as many Shias. In 2007 Maliki replaced you as the head of what became the Dawa Party, and effectively kicked you out of Dawa after you established your own party, the National Reform Trend. Your party had only very modest success in the parliamentary elections of 2010 and 2014, but it was enough to keep you visible and in parliament. When he took the Prime Ministership in 2014, Haider al-Abadi appointed you as his Foreign Minister.

The Position of Foreign Minister

As Foreign Minister you are expected to deal directly with the agents of other nations. Your goal is to persuade foreign diplomats that your nation's positions are the best for the world community to embrace. To do this, you will be expected to work with the President and Prime Minister to create a message that conveys your nation's ambitions to the world. While it is the President's job to control public opinion, it is your job to control the opinion of other nations. This is no small feat, but you have had years to prepare yourself for the job. In your past careers you have learned that dealing with others with divergent opinions requires tact and restraint. It is your job to deliver a well articulated and reasoned argument to the diplomats of the world, including some who will disagree with you strongly, and may even consider it their job to dispute your positions. This means knowing your nation's positions and working with your teammates. The President will do all he can to gain the world's support. This support will help make it more difficult for foreign governments to fight your goals. It is your job to convey a strong and well-argued message to the diplomats of the world. To convey that message, your primary tool will be the private communique. This is a direct communication with other diplomats of the world. It is a means by which to exchange ideas and establish where your allies stand and where your enemies stand. The private communique is a great way to understand what other nations will ask for in return for supporting your goals. In the world of international politics, nations do not support other nations out of the goodness of their hearts. If another nation is going to support you, they will only do so out of their own self-interest. This means researching other nations and determining who shares with you the same goals. You will often be unable to achieve all of your goals, but that does not mean you cannot achieve some of them. In order to advance your nation's objectives it will be necessary to compromise with other nations. This means prioritizing your goals, and deciding which goals you can compromise on in order to achieve others. A nation might ask you to release prisoners in order to get a trade agreement. You must consider whether or not such a deal would be beneficial to your nation. By working with your teammates, you must consider whether or not a compromise is beneficial. This means considering what the outcome would bring you, and what it would cost. Would releasing those prisoners create public outcry? Would releasing them provoke other nations who have an interest in seeing them jailed? Many of these things must be considered when negotiating. With the help of your teammates, you must decide which goals are negotiable and which ones aren't. The challenges you face are not small. Iraq is embroiled in violence, and you will be forced to convince other nations to support you. Your teammates will do their best to support you, but it is your job to do the direct negotiations and establish what other nations will require to give you their support. Remember that your duty is to lay the groundwork for successful negotiations between Iraq and other nations.

Role-Playing Notes

In some ways, your strongest asset is the public disagreements you had with Nouri al-Maliki, which resulted in your being kicked out of the Dawa Party. The current Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, is seen as trying to undo some of the damage done by al-Maliki, who severely antagonized Iraqi Sunnis by excluding them from power under his regime. Mr. Abadi is trying to do what many consider to be the impossible, rebuilding the trust of Sunnis and Kurds in building a unified Iraq while he makes some efforts to share power. Even though he and Maliki were long-time allies, Abadi needs now to distance himself from Maliki, and has removed many of Maliki’s people from positions of power in his administration. Even though you were also accused of excluding Sunnis from power during your short reign as Prime Minister, your public reputation as an opponent of Maliki gives you some credibility, and perhaps lends some to your boss by extension.

You also bring with you a valuable connection to the Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, as well as a reputation for opposing external intervention in Iraqi affairs, a reputation that should be of value as you negotiate with outside powers, including the US and Russia—whose regional interests bring them in close proximity to your borders. Your connection with Ayatollah al-Sistani also brings with it a strong linkage to the government of Iran, and continued Iranian support is crucial even as your government seeks to strengthen ties with Iraqi Sunnis, as well as regional ties with Saudi Arabia. Finally, with the threatening presence of the ISIL militia in Iraq, your government needs help in combatting ISIL, even as it seeks to maintain its boundaries, its territorial and geopolitical integrity and, indeed, its future as a nation. On this theme, we will close with an excerpt from a recent interview you had with the Council on Foreign Relations. Speaking of the United States and the threat from ISIL you said: "We need (American) military support. We need the air force. We need the air force coverage. We need equipment, intelligence. We need the humanitarian help…now there are more than 2 million dislocated people inside and outside Iraq. We still hope that the world will stand by us, stand by the Iraq people in this crisis. Unless the people take a collective position to face terrorism, Iraq may end."

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