Saturday, January 20, 2007

Allawi positions himself as nationalist savior of Iraq, and a big Saudi paper supports him

Asharq al-Awsat prints a lengthy interview with former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, head of the parliamentary group known as the Iraqi National List, and also known as the Wifaq (accord) Movement. There are a number of points worth underlining, among them: (1) This Saudi-oriented newspaper appears to be supporting Allawi in his not-so-veiled suggestions that the Maliki administration could be ousted by parties holding the positions Allawi holds; (2) although Allawi's group is part of the government in the technical parliamentary sense, he very clearly distances himself from it; (3) he attributes failure of negotiations with the Baath, in part, to the fact that the Maliki government isn't serious about what has been called the Sunni outreach or national reconciliation; (4) In saying that the Maliki administration doesn't have much more time, Allawi ties together a number of conditions: he says Maliki has to disband the militias and get serious about Sunni outreach and appoint "non-sectarian" people to the key positions in government. A tall order, suggesting that Allawi, like Bush, probably sees toppling him as a matter of time. Here are a few of the specific points in the interview:

Allawi told the interviewer that although his Iraqi List voted for the appointment of Maliki as Prime Minister and supports him in parliament, there are two qualifications: First, his group has no participation in the executive function of the government, and second, the group is thinking of "changing its position", something Allawi explains as follows:
This is not a government of national unity but a government of sectarian quotas, and it doesn't represent national accord. We reluctantly participate in it, in an attempt to cause improvement so that the government might be admonished and become a true government of national unity. However, since the time-limit we set for that has passed, we are taking a different and a new position which we are starting to study internally, seeing that there is a limit to the usefulness of participating in an executive government where we have no participation in the actual executive function...
One of the big failures of the Maliki administration, says Allawi, is the failure to get anywhere in negotiations with the Sunni resistance. He puts it this way:
Question: Is there a real Iraqi resistance?

Allawi: Certainly there is a real resistance, and the Americans are talking to them just as they are talking to the Baathists, and that is currently going on, but it doesn't look as if it is going anywhere.

Question: Who do you mean by "Baathists"?

Allawi: I am talking about the official representatives of the Baath party, and they have been talking to the coalition states at a high level, and among [the interlocutors] are the Americans, but it hasn't gone anywhere, and one of the reasons for that is that one of the coalition states told them to negotiate with the [Iraqi] government, and the answer came back that they don't recognize the Iraqi government because it doesn't represent Iraq in reality, moreover our brothers in the government don't want to change their policy with respect to de-Baathification. On the contrary, they want to confirm that approach, and they oppose any of the nationalist approaches, even those that aren't connected to the Baath, for instance that is what happened to us as the National Iraqi List or as the Wifaq (accord) Movement...
It should be noted that Allawi joins together the issues of (1) Sunni outreach (negotiations/national reconciliation); (2) dissolution of all the militias (but clearly mainly the Mahdi Army); and (3) what he calls the system of quotas. In expressing this, Allawi is suggesting his group shares with the Baathists the status of victims of government persecution. For instance, Allawi said a member of his Iraqi List who won a seat in the December 2005 election was disqualified under the de-Baathification system even though he was never a Baathist, but a Communist who opposed Saddam. And he said there are other examples of persecution of members of his group under the Maliki administration. In fact, Allawi goes on:
There is a big campaign against us, and this reflects the lack of any real drive [by the government] in the direction of national reconcilation, which was started by participants in the political process, and we are ourselves played a fundamental role in that...and for that reason we have decided to withdraw our earlier stance [of active cooperation] and be very precise: If the government is serious about ending the [system of sectarian] quotas, and disbanding the militias, and being serious in the matter of national reconciliation, then I have told Maliki that we will be his strategic support, but if the government is not serious about this program, then it is a different story.


Blogger badger said...

Interesting odds: Moqtada and the Saudi regime versus Helena... (only kidding)

4:48 PM  
Blogger JHM said...

Ah, but in December 2005 Dr. ‘Allawi didn't have a private army ready to go at the military airport of al-Muthanna . . . .

4:10 AM  
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