11/01/2012 14:21

ERBIL, Jan. 11 (AKnews) – Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq says Iraqiya List will call for early elections or the replacement of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, if political tensions continue.

Mutlaq’s statement came in an exclusive interview with AKnews. Below is the full text of the interview.

Q: Iraq has been moving from one crisis to the next since the March 2010 elections, what do you think is the reason for that?

A: Because decision-making in Iraq is in the hands of foreign powers. The current Iraqi government is an Iranian-woven fabric formed with the blessings of the U.S. Now that the U.S. has withdrawn from Iraq, the decision-making is in the hands of Iran. It is Iran who decides whether or not Maliki will stay in power.

Q: If as you say the government was formed under guidance from Iran why are you part of this cabinet while you have 91 seats in the parliament?

A: Because there is no real democracy in the country. If a party wants to play opposition it will be treated under article 4 of the terror law and so they will be arrested whenever the government wishes it. There is no real freedom and democracy, what is in store is abuse, dictatorship and despotism.

Q: You have already paid for what you have just said, are you saying again that this government is a dictatorship?

A: I am ready to say more, pay even greater costs, to clarify the truth. I do not regret what I said earlier, I reiterate it, Maliki and the Dawa Party have taken a dictatorial course to take over the country and to become the one and only ruling party.

Q: Now there are preparations for a national conference, does the country need more conferences and initiatives?

A: They say they are busy forming committees that organize the conference, but these committees have not been formed yet. The country is facing a major crisis but there is no serious attempt to contain it. The political leaders should have met as soon as possible but because some of them are associated with foreign powers or some of them are accused of corruption and terror they have abstained from the meeting just so that the authorities keep quiet about them.

Q: Iraqiya List has set several conditions for participation in the conference, and there is also the problem of where to hold the conference [Erbil or Baghdad] is there any ray of hope that the conference will be held anytime soon?

A: Where to hold the conference should not be a problem. Erbil, Sulaimaniyah or Baghdad doesn’t matter, it is all Iraq. What matters is to be a stable and secure place.

Q: Is there the suitable atmosphere for the success of the conference?

A: No, the atmosphere is not suitable. Because some would rather have the situation remain in crisis because they are used to creating problems. They feed off creating problems rather than solving them, they do not have the ability to develop the country therefore they want to keep the country busy in a continuous state of crisis.

Q: There is a cold war in the [wider] region between Sunnis and Shiites, can we say that Iraq is part of this war, too?

A: Iraq is paying for the regional conflicts. Because the political process in the country is weak everybody is looking to exploit Iraq.

Q: Following your meetings with the Kurdish leaders, how do you see the political position of the Kurds?

A: I would thank the position of the Kurds as a just position that is caring about the country. Today, I feel that Massoud Barzani, the President of Kurdistan Region, has a duty and that’s to force the previous agreement [on the political blocs] and to find solutions for the current crisis. A crisis which is a result of not implementing the agreement. This would be a responsible position.

Q: If the crisis remains as it is now, what would be your next step?

A: We will call for early elections under the supervision of an interim government that would not be involved in the elections. If early elections are not an option, then we will call for the replacement of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. All the political factions inside the National Coalition would rather have Maliki substituted but they can’t change him [now] because he enjoys external support.

Q: There are several pending issues between the Kurds and Iraqiya, I wonder if it is time now to resolve these issues, now that there is a convergence between the two sides?

A: We are keen on resolving all issues that linger between the Kurds and Iraqiya. There are meetings and talks, and the initial steps have been taken for a strong alliance between both sides. We failed to get to know each other better previously. There was a period of avoiding each other. Now that we're closer, we have a very good mutual understanding

By Mohammed Abdul Rahman