Iraqi Islamic Party Leader Interviewed on Government Formation, Other Issues

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Iraqi Islamic Party Leader Interviewed on Government Formation, Other Issues

Post by Seaview on Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:18 pm

Al-Arabiya Television at 2009 (?) gmt on 4 July carries in its weekly "Frankly Speaking" programme an interview with Dr Tariq al-Hashimi, secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party [IIP] and Iraqi vice- president, in Amman, by moderator Elie Nakuzi.

Nakuzi begins by saying that "we are going to discuss the Iraqi Al-Tawafuq [accord] Front's position, statements to the media by some Iraqi politicians, the big differences among the front's members, and the reported plans for the front to rejoin the government." He also wonders "why the front and the IIP have lost their popularity to the awakening councils in the Al-Anbar Governorate and other areas of Iraq." He says that "we have many other questions on the relationship between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Vice President Taqiq al-Hashimi, as well as the latter's relationship with the Americans." He says "we will also discuss the proposed security agreement between Iraq and the United States, the Iraqi oil issue, and the US interests in the region."

Starting the interview, Nakuzi asks Al-Hashimi how he views the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq, the expected signing of the controversial security agreement between Iraq and the United States, the anticipated return of the Sunnis to the political process, and the Al-Tawafuq Front's decision to rejoin the government.
In response, Al-Hashimi says that "we have decided to rejoin the government."

Asked what has delayed the front's return to the political process, Al-Hashimi says that "the delay is due to a dispute over a ministerial portfolio" and that "the media organs have reported this issue in detail."

Asked if this is the only reason, Al-Hashimi says that "this is the main reason as far as we are concerned."

Asked on whether the differences in the ranks of the Al-Tawafuq Front are another reason, Al-Hashimi says that "the main reason behind the delay is the dispute over a ministerial portfolio," that "we reached an accord several day ago," and that that "the front is going to rejoin the government, God willing."

Nakuzi quotes Prime Minister Al-Maliki as saying two months ago that "there would be a government within a week."
Al-Hashimi says that "I was upset by the lengthy negotiations over this issue" and "the front is expected to return to the government next week."

Asked why he is optimistic this time, Al-Hashimi says that "there is a national need for the front to return to the government" and that "the front is coming under a popular pressure."

Asked on whether the dispute is only over the ministerial portfolio or is it more serious as far as Sunnis are concerned, Al- Hashimi says that "we hope we will put an end to the sectarian issue and launch a new culture," that "we should not talk about Sunnis and Shi'is in this way," and that "the front has decided to name some Shi'i and Christian candidates for ministerial posts in order to break the sectarian and ethnic line that has gripped Iraq since 2003."

Asked if there are serious differences among the leaders of the Al-Tawafuq Front, Al-Hashimi says that "we resolved our differences a week ago and reached an accord to end this illogic argument."

Asked if he has decided to withdraw from the Al-Tawafuq Front, Al- Hashimi says: "No, I have not."

Asked on whether the front in its current shape will run for the upcoming parliamentary elections, Al-Hashimi says that "each party in the front has its own political mode of action and viewpoint" and that "perhaps the entire political scene in the country will change next year." He says that "we have no intention to withdraw from the Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front" and that "the state of affairs shows that the sectarian line adopted during the previous parliamentary elections will be broken at the expanse of the current political alliances."

Asked if we are going to witness non-sectarian political alliances this time or if the country will continue to suffer from this problem, Al-Hashimi says that "it is difficult for the political parties to market their election programmes based on sectarian lines." For example, "the Al-Tawafuq Front is known as a representative of the Sunni Arabs, although it does not have such a political programme," he says, adding that "it is extremely difficult for us to win votes if we adopt the sectarian line."

Asked how the IIP views itself under the current circumstances, Al-Hashimi says that "we are in the middle of the political strife so far" and that "the political makeup of the country is going to change, although the blocs in and outside the government pursue sectarian lines for the time being." He also says that "the political process is now at a crossroad" and that "Iraq will witness new alliances and a new political makeup within the next few months."

Asked where the IIP is from all this, Al-Hashimi says that "some fronts in and outside the government are trying to win the IIP's support" and that "our future decisions will be based on the homeland's interests far away from the sectarian and ethnic lines, which were pursued during the previous parliamentary elections."

Nakuzi says some parties have declared that the IIP no longer enjoys popularity compared to the awakening councils.

Al-Hashimi says that "if the IIP had had no weight, it would not have come under all these attacks by this or that party."

Nakuzi says that Sunni leaders are accused of accumulating huge wealth, but that Sunni masses have gained nothing so far.

Al-Hashimi says that "this is baseless" and that "the IIP has not gained a single contract."

Nakuzi says that "a friend of yours has stated that you have $200 million," Al-Hashimi denies the report as "baseless" and says that "the IIP is facing a difficult financial problem." People knew me "as a businessman before I joined the political process," he says, adding that "since I joined the government, I have frozen my businesses 100 per cent" and that "I will quit politics with a clean hand in the future."

Asked if the IIP has lost its popular base to the awakening council, Al-Hashimi says that "defending the awakening councils is part of the IIP's project" and that "certain parties are targeting Islam and want to destroy the Islamic institutions in the country." Therefore, "a new political makeup should come into existence for different reasons," he says, adding that "huge funds are used and foreign intelligence services work to taint the image of the IIP." He says that "nobody budged when certain groups threatened to fight the IIP and kill its members unless it closed its headquarters within a month." He says that "if any other party had been threatened in this way, the government would have used the Anti- Terror Law and arrested these groups." He also says that "the campaign came to an end after these groups made sure that the IIP has only one government employee in the Al-Anbar Governorate and has nothing to do with contracts in the governorate." The IIP "has deep roots in the conscience of the Iraqi people," he says, adding that "many circles in the southern governorates and the Kurdistan Region support me personally," that "the current campaign against the IIP is based on certain political agenda," and that "we have no differences with the awakening councils." He says that "I am still pressing the government to incorporate more and more members of the awakening councils into the Armed Forces" and that "the awakening councils have defended the country's security and must be absorbed by the Armed Forces, regardless of their sectarian affiliations." He also says that "the Americans pay $300 to each member of the awakening councils," describing this as "a disgrace for Iraq." He says that "we have differences with certain figures in these councils but not with the councils" and that "we will continue to defend the councils until the government incorporates them all."

Nakuzi says that the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi National Front attack the IIP, asking if these Sunni blocs are seeking to destroy Islam in the country, Al-Hashimi says that "some of these parties are trying to market themselves at the expense of the IIP" and that "these campaigns will not affect the IIP, its popularity, and its political project."

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Re: Iraqi Islamic Party Leader Interviewed on Government Formation, Other Issues

Post by Seaview on Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:22 pm


Asked if the Americans have established the awakening councils as an substitute for the IIP in the upcoming political process, especially since they are financed and armed by the Americans, Al- Hashimi says that "the IIP was behind the creation of the awakening councils and countered the Al-Qa'idah's project in the Al-Anbar Governorate, although the tribes were embracing it."

Nakuzi says that the Iraqi IIP was accused of treason for joining the political process.

Al-Hashimi says that "the IIP adopts a moderate policy and has never backed Al-Qa'idah's project" and that "the Al-Qa'idah is still operating in the Diyala Governorate with the support of the tribes." He also says that "130 of the IIP's leading figures have been killed by Al-Qa'idah in the Al-Anbar Governorate and elsewhere in Iraq."

Nakuzi says that Adnan al-Dulaymi of the Al-Tawafuq Front and his son were accused of being behind a terrorist operation.

Al-Hashimi says that "some of the misleading, wicked media reports have complicated the political scene" and that "Al-Dulaymi will never get involved in suspected actions of this kind at all."

Asked if the IIP agrees that the awakening councils have made an achievement in the security file, Al-Hashimi says that "we agree and even support the awakening councils, which are part of the IIP's political project," urging the Iraqi Government "to support and incorporate more and more elements of the awakening councils into the Armed Forces."

Asked about his party's relationship with the Americans, Al- Hashimi says that "there is nothing new in this regard."
Asked if the IIP expects the worst when Barack Obama is elected president of the United States and decides to withdraw the US forces from Iraq, Al-Hashimi says that "we have no concerns over this, since any upcoming US president will take US interests into account" and that "we have to deal with him flexibly and logically." He says that "I do not expect any change in the US strategy regardless of who is president of the United States."

Asked on whether the IIP will ask the new US Administration not to carry out an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, Al-Hashimi says that "the security scene is improving" and that "the Iraqi Army is expanding and developing its combat capability." From the beginning, "we called for a timetable for the US forces' withdrawal," he says, adding that "any such withdrawal will take two years." Therefore, he says, "we will have enough time to strengthen the army and purge it of the militias in order to impose security and deter any foreign aggression."

Asked about Iraqi-US differences over the proposed agreement between the two countries and how the IIP and the Al-Tawafuq Front view the agreement, Al-Hashimi says that "the Iraqi people will reject the agreement unless it meets the country's interests, including the acquirement of modern technology, the reconstruction of the infrastructure, and the improvement of the services." Iraq needs the big countries' backing "to achieve this goal and end the Iraqi people's suffering." The proposed security agreement between the two countries, he says, "conflicts with Iraq's sovereignty 100 per cent and has been rejected."

Asked if Iraq will accept the presence of permanent US military bases, Al-Hashimi says that "the Iraqis will reject any such plan" and that "the United States does not intend to establish such bases in Iraq." Even if a security agreement is signed with the United States, he says, "the US forces will stay in the country only one or two more years."

Asked if the United States has come to Iraq just to liberate it from the former regime, spread democracy in it, and provide modern technology to it, Al-Hashimi says that "whenever I meet US officials and I ask them about the bottom line of the US project, they do not respond." I believe that "the US Administration has no studied project that is acceptable to Iraq," he says, adding that "I do not expect Iraq to sign such an agreement." Stressing that "the Iraqis will study this issue carefully" and benefit from the experience of world countries, he says: "The problem facing us is as follows: First, we are trying to change the current state of affaires. Second, Iraq must be removed from Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. This is the central problem. We have several bitter options and face an extremely difficult situation. We are seeking help from countries, which have faced a similar situation. How could Iraq restore its sovereignty, remove itself from Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, and protect its properties abroad from the current claims? How can we get the UN Security Council to issue such a resolution, at a time when some if its permanent members have agendas conflicting with those of the United States? We want to extract ourselves from the said chapter, set a timetable for the US forces' withdrawal, and restore our sovereignty with the support of the international community."

Asked if the United States has come to Iraq to seize control of the Iraqi oil, Al-Hashimi says that "we expected the United States to focus on this issue" and that "no US official, congressman, or study centre has raised the oil issue with me," wondering why the United States has offered all these sacrifices. Iraq "sells its oil in the international market, although the United States was accused of having come to Iraq control oil prices." Nevertheless, he says, "Iraq sells its oil in the international market without any US interference." I am part of the Iraqi authority today, "but I do not see any US influence on Iraq with regard to the oil issue," he says, adding that "the US oil companies, like other international companies, compete to win oil contracts to develop oil wells."

Nakuzi quotes US President Bush as saying that the US project is aimed at spreading democracy in the region in general and Iraq in particular and that the US project has nothing to do with oil, asking if the United States wants a share in the Iraqi oil.

Al-Hashimi says that "if the Americans had made such a demand, I would have exposed them to the entire world," that "there is something more important than oil, namely, Iraq's departure from the Middle East military equation, a high price to be paid by the Arab world." This, he says, "is probably the US strategy in the region."

Asked about the nature of relationship between the IIP and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and if the party has made some concessions to return to the government.

Al-Hashimi says that "our political position changed after the prime minister made a historic decision to carry out a military operation against militias in the southern city of Basra and other governorates."
Nakuzi says that you sought reconciliation with Al-Maliki after he struck Shi'is in the south.

Al-Hashimi says that "Al-Maliki carried out similar operations in the Ninawa Governorate, a mainly Sunni governorate," and that "these operations have nothing to do with any sectarian agenda at all." He also says that "the government has taken an unexpected huge stride in the right direction," urging the government "to take similar huge strides towards building a state based on justice and law."

Asked if these huge strides have cleared the way for Arab openness to Iraq, Al-Hashimi says that "we have encouraged this openness."

Asked if he has cleared the way for Al-Maliki to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-Hashimi says that "the political agenda has changed" and that "the kingdom does not only seek to promote bilateral relations with Iraq, but also markets Iraq's position in the Arab countries which are still angry with the Al-Maliki government." However, "the Iraqi Government still has a long way to go to establish a state of law far away from the past sectarian line and administrative corruption," he says, adding that "this file may be opened after the closure of the security file."

Asked on whether Iraq has freed itself from Iran's influence and whether he raised this issue during his meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinezhad, Al-Hashimi says that "Iran has deep roots in many important institutions in Iraq" and that "the recent military operations have failed to end Iran's interference in Iraq." He urges Iran "to reconsider and repair its relations with Iraq and respect Iraq as a neighbour," warning that "there are no signs that Iran will reconsider its position." He also urges the Iraqis "to restore their national agenda far away from the sectarian line, which some use to create a serious rift among the Iraqis."

Discussing his meetings with Iranian President Ahmadinezhad, Al- Hashimi says that "have held two meetings with Ahmadinezhad in Tehran and Baghdad to discuss Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs," quoting Ahmadinezhad as saying that "the United States is behind the current security trouble in Iraq." He says that "I told him that we have confirmed information that Iran interferes in Iraq and contributes to the current security problem." He also says that "I informed Ahmadinezhad that we would sign a security agreement with the Americans even if they are an arch Satan unless Iran stops its interference in Iraq's affairs" and that "the Iraqis want normal relations and good neighbourly ties with Iran."

Originally published by Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic 2009 (?) 4 Jul 08.

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