As part of an ongoing cooperation between the EU Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM Iraq) and the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) to advise on implementation of the national strategies on Counterterrorism (CT) and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), an Iraqi delegation travelled to Europe in early December 2022.
The delegation, led by ONSA, comprised of senior Iraqi government officials with leading roles in the implementation of the national CT and CVE strategies. Facilitated by EUAM Iraq, it met with counterparts in EU Member States and EU institutions in Brussels. Discussions in EU Member States focused on exchanging experiences and best practices in developing, implementing, and revising national CT/CVE policies and practices using a multi-agency, evidence-based approach. In Brussels, the Iraqi delegation briefed EU interlocutors on the state of play with implementation of national strategies for CT and CVE, and the counterparts discussed ongoing and potential future EU support in the area.
In Copenhagen, the delegation visited the national Centre for Terrorism Analysis (CTA), where a team of experts led by the CTA Director shared experiences of establishing a national intelligence fusion centre. Discussions focused on best practices in inter-agency cooperation on developing the annual National Terrorist Threat Assessment to Denmark and other analytical products guiding development and implementation of national policies in Denmark in relation to CT and CVE. The delegation also paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where it met with Directors for MENA and Security Policy Departments and discussed bilateral cooperation including Danish support to stabilisation efforts in Iraq and multilateral CT/CVE engagements.
In The Hague, the delegation visited the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism & Security (NTCV). The Head of the CT Unit at NCTV shared experiences of establishing the organisation, while senior policy officers discussed best practices for developing the Terrorist Threat Assessment Netherlands in an inter-agency approach. The Dutch and Iraqi counterparts exchanged experiences with developing and implementing national CT/CVE strategies, including the National Counterterrorism Strategy of the Netherlands.
In Brussels, the delegation met with the European External Action Service (EEAS) Counterterrorism Division, the EU Intelligence & Situation Centre (INTCEN) as well as with various European Commission services. In a meeting chaired by the EEAS CT Division, the EU institutions outlined their policy priorities in the field of CT/CVE, and INTCEN shared best practices in developing analytical products to inform EU strategic decision making. The European Commission (Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, FPI and Directorate-General for International Partnerships, INTPA) shared ongoing and future operational cooperation on various aspects of support of local authorities towards CT issues at large, while the Iraqi delegation briefed on efforts to implement the national CT and CVE strategies. Ongoing and potential further EU support to implementation of the two national strategies was discussed.
The visit was wrapped up by a meeting with the EU Counterterrorism Coordinator, which focused on identifying joint priorities in several areas related to CT and CVE. The EU Counterterrorism Coordinator stated:
“It is critical for long-term sustainability that the EU’s policy engagement with Iraq and capacity building support is backed up with a focus on institutionalising the ability to develop and implement national strategies in the field of CT and CVE. Thus, I am very pleased with the civilian CSDP mission’s efforts to promote more exchanges between Iraqi officials and their counterparts in EU Member States. During today’s discussions, we identified several joint priority areas including challenges with radicalisation in prisons and countering online radicalisation, as well as the need to focus on the early prevention of violent extremism at the community level as the most effective way of reducing the global terrorist threat. I look forward to continuing discussions with my Iraqi counterparts during my next visit to Baghdad”.