Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development

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Vanda Dahlbom

Analyst in Iraq

Vanda Dahlbom is on secondment from FBA to the EU Advisory Mission in Iraq, where she works as an analyst. The EU mission supports Iraqi authorities with advice and expertise in its efforts to reform the security sector, aiming to strengthen state institutions in order to improve their capacity to deliver security and rule of law.  

After the overthrow of long-term dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, a power vacuum was created, paving the way for the creation of the Islamic State (IS). In the summer of 2014, the terrorist group began taking large swaths of Iraq. Following a large-scale counter-offensive, IS was declared defeated in 2017, but remaining IS cells still continue to carry out terror attacks in the country. The Iraqi government lacks the ability to provide its citizens with satisfactory security and basic services, and to carry out successful reconciliation and reconstruction programmes.

Vanda, what do you do as an analyst for the EU Advisory Mission in Iraq (EUAM)?

– The EUAM gives strategic advice on how to build an effective security sector in Iraq; a cornerstone of any state. For example, the mission supports efforts to develop the legislative process, and provides advice relevant for strengthening the capacity to fight organized crime, terrorism and corruption. Part of my work includes mapping efforts by international actors in support of security sector reform in Iraq. In order for the EUAM to be effective, it is necessary to be aware of what other actors are doing, so that we can avoid overlaps and focus our efforts where they are needed the most.

Could you describe your day-to-day life in Iraq?

– I am stationed in Baghdad. The EUAM is currently operating out of a hotel in the international zone of the city, where the staff is also quartered. Because of the difficult security situation, we can only move freely within the premises of the hotel. Now and then we are required to leave the hotel area to attend meetings, though this is only possible with rigorous security arrangements. The situation makes me feel somewhat restricted in my day-to-day life, but at the same time it is incredibly interesting to be stationed in a country experiencing such development.

What did you do prior to your deployment to Iraq?

– I have experience working for the Swedish Police, as an investigator among other things. I am currently on leave of absence from my regular work, for my secondment to the EUAM Iraq. My interest in promoting international security was raised in the 1990s, when I was deployed by the Swedish Armed Forces to the Balkans. In the last years, I have been deployed by the Swedish Police to the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, and I have been seconded by both FBA and the Swedish Police to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. I view the international missions as my contribution to a more peaceful world.

Photo: Christiaan Briggs, Raymond Bucko

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