Sadr insists on al-Maliki no confidence vote


Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Sadrist trend leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, renewed his calls for confidence to be withdrawn from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, stressing that his position is not affected by the stances of the religious authorities in Iran’s holy city of Qom. Responding to a question regarding a number of statements that have been issued by officials within al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition accusing him of advancing the political decisions made by Shiite religious references in Iran, al-Sadr denied that he no longer supported the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki, stressing that “the majority of our religious references are independent and have chosen the path of neutrality.”

Al-Sadr called on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to expedite the Iraqi parliamentary session to withdraw confidence from al-Maliki, calling on the erstwhile Iraqi prime minister to accept parliament’s decision to withdraw its confidence from his premiership. Answering another question, also put to him by one of his followers, regarding the Iraqi public’s fears of the deteriorating political crisis that is raging in Baghdad, and the possibility of conditions across the country deteriorating as a result of this, al-Sadr stressed “my only concern is to end the beloved [Iraqi] people’s suffering, and this reformist project to remove confidence from al-Maliki is only being pursued in order to remove some suffering which is increasing day after day, for there is no water or electricity or security, except behind the walls of the Green Zone. We do not and will not accept this humiliation and injustice, and this is why we have taken the decision to change what is in ourselves , for as God stated in the Holy Quran “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” [Surat al-Rad; Verse 11].

He added “according to my understanding, the only solution is the following: that we call – in one voice – for the president and prime minister to quickly hold a parliamentary session during which we can put forward the proposal to withdraw confidence from the prime minister. On the other hand, if the prime minister believes that the Iraqi people and parliament are with him then he will be willing to hold this session and the vote will renew confidence in his premiership, otherwise this means that he is not certain of this. If he believes that his project is successful and acceptable to the people and parliament, then he will not be concerned about this.”

For his part, MP Hakim al-Zamili, who is a senior member of the Sadrist al-Ahrar parliamentary bloc, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the project to withdraw confidence from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki must take place, whether this is via votes – and we have enough votes to withdraw confidence from him despite all the confusion here and there – or via a parliamentary investigation.”

He added “what is being said about the stances of religious figures in Iraq or Iran’s holy city of Qom have nothing to do with this approach, because the religious references have taken the decision not to intervene in the political game.”

Al-Zamili also stressed that “what is being said in this regard is nothing more than a public relations war, because everybody is aware that the most senior religious reference [in Iraq] Mr. Ali al-Sistani has, for example, barred his doors to politicians over the past two years and Mr. al-Sadr is well aware of the limits of the mandate of Islamic Sharia law and will therefore not be affected by such views and rumors.”

He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “religious references are always calling for improving public services, and that is something that has not been implemented, therefore withdrawing confidence [from al-Maliki] aims, primarily, to achieve this.”

As for what has been reported regarding the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Kazem al-Husseini al-Haeri, prohibiting voting for any secularist candidate, the Sadrist trend MP stressed that “this issue has been settled because the alternative to the current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will not be a secularist like Iyad Allawi or others, but rather an Islamist from within the National Alliance itself.”

In addition to this, Kurdistan Alliance MP Shawm Mohammed Taha informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the project to withdraw confidence does not target any specific figure, as the situation is being portrayed, as if this were a personal issue; rather it targets a [political] approach that has now been rejected by the majority of political parties and blocs.”

Taha also acknowledged the existence of “divisions within the political blocs, including within the Kurdistan Alliance, the Iraqiya bloc and the National Alliance.”

As for relations between Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Iraqi political leaders seeking to promote the “no confidence” project, MP Shawm Mohammed Taha informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “everybody knows that the president is the guardian of the constitution, and that he must be impartial, and so in the event that there are divisions, these must not exceed the natural differences that occur over differences in political approach which are a natural part of the democratic game.”

He added “in Iraq today there are two approaches…one approach wants to build a federal state where there is a peaceful transfer of power, whilst another approach wants to sanctify a monopolization of politics by one party and leader, and this is something that is completely unacceptable.”

The Kurdish Alliance MP also condemned the attempts to “agitate the Iraqi public and bring political divisions onto the street” adding “this is very dangerous at the current time.”