September: Diplomat of the Month
September has been a widely uneventful month in terms of major political controversies. Yet events, ranging from Theresa May’s immigration plan to Russia and Turkey’s creation of an Idlib buffer zone, suggests that politicians have remained just as busy as ever in terms of the domestic and international dealings.
This month has seen many leaders is disagreement such as Putin’s lack of cooperation with the British government in terms of the Salisbury attack, or Mike Pompeo’s negotiations on North Korea sanctions. Choosing an ideal diplomat, politician, or political leader comes with its controversies and difference in opinion. While choosing a ‘perfect leader’ may be easy to some due to their ideologies or lenience, the leader of the month is chosen based on three factors.
The first requirement must be allegiance. Rather than displaying a controversial opinion, misrepresenting ideas, and following their own agenda, a leader will be chosen based on their persistence in showing as much of the state’s opinion as they can, despite the diversity that could arise. The second element focuses on their loyalty to those around them. Despite diplomatic immunity, diplomats must not only be respectful of other’s opinions, but equally of the country in which they are in. Parking fines, in New York alone, given to diplomats total up to $15 million. The third, and crucial point, is embracing change. Suggesting ideas, running the debate and contribution toward a better world is pivotal from a diplomat.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari has stood out this month for his gratefulness, desire for change, and efforts. On Friday, the Foreign Minister spoke to the UN General Assembly, thanking the international community and the UN for their efforts in fighting Islamic State extremist group.
He continued to express his gratitude in explaining how far Iraq has come since its “bloody and dark hour”*. On behalf of the entire nation, he equally explained that without global participation, the future of Iraq could not be possible. Despite this gratitude and thankfulness for diplomacy, the foreign minister has been amongst may other negotiations this month. In a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the pair were extremely productive in exchanging views on the Middle East. As Ibrahim Al-Jaafari explained the government’s attempt to eliminate the hotbed of international terrorism, as a result of ISIS, Russia continued to show Iraq its support for unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
Dr Ibrahim Al-Jaafari’s efforts did not end there. Less than a day later the minister was already meeting with the British Secretary of State for the Middle East and North Africa, Foreign Office Minister Alister Burt. The meeting focused on strengthening mutual interests. The British Secretary explained that he welcomes Iraq’s commitment to the stabilisation of their government and wishes to see it successful in its efforts toward “all its people”.
With a new aim of reforming a stable government and moving forward, the Iraqi Minister also met with the Iranian ambassador, Rajih Al-Moussaqi. This meeting in particular highlighted Al-Jaafari’s patience as a diplomat and loyalty towards ‘the rules’ for correct diplomacy. The meeting backfired and ended in the Iranian minister being investigated for irresponsible behavior. Following questions set out by the Iraqi ambassador, the Iranian minister shouted “I’m not on trial! Ask your [Iraqi] prime minister and his government!”**. This came amid ongoing conflict between the two political entities. Despite the efforts of cooperation being denied by Iran, Dr Al-Jaafari remained patient and calm as he dealt with the matter accordingly.
Overall, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari has been chosen for standing out in his appreciation of others’ efforts during a high-profile General Assembly. He also continues to desire change for his country through meetings with other diplomats, as adversely they may go.
At the time of writing, Deanna Coleman is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. She is studying International Relations and Spanish. Areas that interest her the most are diplomacy and humanitarian action.