UN envoy resigns from Iraq at end of May

The head of the United Nations political mission in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said she will step down at the end of May. She mentioned that the country was “on a knife’s edge.” The former Dutch defense minister was appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in late 2018. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq aims to advance inclusive political dialog and helps coordinate humanitarian and development aid. Hennis-Plasschaert told the 15-member Security Council that “an enabling environment will prove essential” for Iraq to continue on its path of stability and progress. She also emphasized the need for restraint from all sides.

Iraq has been in the crossfire of aggression from different sides since October 7

Iran-aligned groups, known collectively as the “Axis of Resistance,” have been waging attacks against Israeli and US targets from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria since their Palestinian ally Hamas and Israel went to war on Oct. 7. Washington responded with strikes, threatening the progress made towards stabilizing the country after decades of conflict. Hennis-Plasschaert stated that the situation remains volatile and that the region is “on a knife-edge,” with the tiniest miscalculation threatening a major conflagration. She emphasized the urgent need to cease attacks inside and outside of Iraq, reining in armed actors operating outside state control.

The United States invaded Iraq and toppled leader Saddam Hussein in 2003, leading to years of insurgency and fighting among Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups. It withdrew its troops in 2011 but sent thousands back after the Islamic State’s surge into the country three years later.