DETROIT -- A new Iraqi consulate will be opened in Detroit, one of several being established across the U.S.
The Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., Samir al-Sumaidaie, reportedly said during a recent visit with the local Chaldean community that Detroit and California would host the new consulates. The meeting took place at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.
Detroit's Public Radio reported that al-Sumaidaie said the consulates are needed to accommodate the needs of the large Iraqi community living in this country - one embassy in Washington D.C. is not sufficient.
The station also noted that al-Sumaidaie "reportedly suggested that Arabs and Muslims in Dearborn and elsewhere pressure U.S. elected officials to remain committed to the war in Iraq."
"I firmly believe that the Iraqi diaspora, especially in the U.S., is the most qualified to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq and helping achieve the objectives of democracy and peace in that country," said Adhid Miri, a member of the Chaldean Iraqi-American Association of Michigan, who moderated the meeting.
Said Miri, "I think the building of the consulate will be very beneficial to Iraqi Americans as well as other Arab Americans, and create better ties between the two countries. You need to plug in directly into communities that can deliver.
"A consulate is needed so that people can take care of their visa issues, bid on projects, lobby the Iraqi government through our political action groups. It will also help in the transfer of educational and technological knowledge - you just really need this kind of mechanism. It won't work with scattered individuals across this country.
"Iraq, more than any other country, needs these consular services today. Actually Iraq needed it yesterday. The community has been voicing its needs for a long time, at least 10 years.
"It was parallel to the size of the community here, as more people came to the U.S. and Michigan, the needs grew as well.
"This is long overdue, it's really a positive leap forward. The world has changed and we live in a global economy. We as Iraqis need to have the speedy access to services that such a consulate would provide," said Miri.
Calls made to the Iraqi Embassy throughout the week went unanswered and messages left requesting information were not returned as of press time.