Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, has disclosed that he intends to offer a new national reconciliation plan based mainly on the cancellation of the decisions that Paul Bremer, former US Presidential Envoy to Iraq, issued, including the dissolution of the Iraqi Army and security agencies.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Al-Mutlaq said dissolving the security agencies that were established after the occupation, disbanding the militias, revoking the Debathification law, and abolishing the sectarian quota system must precede any national reconciliation plan. “The Front will demand the cancellation of all the decisions made by the US Administration, decisions that spoiled the political and social situation in Iraq. Bremer himself admitted this and called for the cancellation of those decisions.” Al-Mutlaq said.
Al-Mutlaq called on the chiefs of Iraqi Arab tribes, Iraqi dignitaries, and prominent Iraqi political leaders not to feel content with just watching events in the country. He urged them to play a role and to use their social influence to stop the bloodshed. “I call on those who can return to Iraq to return to help stop the major bloodshed and remove the signs of partition that have started to appear in the horizon, which means the beginning of civil war in Iraq,” he said.
He added: “The religious leaders who have been absent from the stage for a long time after they played a role in the deterioration through their interference in politics are today called upon to play a new role to close Iraqi ranks and end the sectarian strife.” Their silence on this situation is unacceptable, he said.
“We call on them (the religious leaders) to intervene to stop the looting of the country’s funds and resources, looting that has now become clear. When the report of the Interior Ministry’s general inspector says that $1 billion are stolen every month and the religious leaders remain silent then this is incomprehensible.” Al-Mutlaq added
Asked when he will present his reconciliation initiative, the head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, “We will present the initiative inside and outside the Council of Representatives within one week. I do not count much on the Council of Representatives. This is why I will present the initiative to the Iraqis inside and outside (the Council). The Council of Representatives is party oriented; it votes for the party before it votes for the homeland.” Al-Mutlaq said.
On Kurdish and Shiite demands for changing the flag and the national anthem and their saying that the term “God is Great” on the flag was meant for insincere purposes, Al-Mutlaq said: “The term was meant for sincere purposes and those who want to change the Iraqi flag want to change the image of Arab Iraq and divide the country.” He said the sense of nationalism must not prevail over the sense of patriotism, especially for the Kurdish leaders and others who are linked to other tendencies outside Iraq. “The aim of this trend is to weaken the Arab nationalist trend in Iraq, and I am against changing the flag and the national anthem because they are beautiful,” he said.
On Al-Maliki’s plan for national reconciliation, Al-Mutlaq commented, “The reconciliation plan began with good ideas from the prime minister, but he later backtracked from some of its clauses, such as his saying that the armed men who killed Americans or fought the Americans will not be covered by the amnesty and the reconciliation.” He added that, “No national reconciliation will succeed if it fails to open the doors to everyone without exception to participate or if it does not remove the red lines. The prime minister needs a wider horizon to offer a real initiative accommodating everyone. Such an initiative needs an Iraqi Nelson Mandela or Siwar al-Dahab. We need real Iraqi leaders.”
On Al-Maliki’s current visits to Arab countries, the head of the National Dialogue Front said: “It is his right to visit the Arab countries and the neighboring states because the issue of reconciliation has Arab connections and regional and international dimensions.” He said Al-Maliki needs to make other tours to ensure the success of his plan.
Al-Mutlaq denied that between 15 and 20 armed groups accepted Al-Maliki’s national reconciliation plan. “I doubt all this talk. All the armed factions rejected the plan. This includes Muhammad Army, the Army of Conquerors (jaysh al-Fatihin) and the Islamic Army. The Baathist still have reservations. The Islamists and the Revolution of the 1920 (thawrat al-ishrin) reject the plan. Some factions that are not present on the stage are said to have accepted the plan. As for the Islamic Party’s call on the Sunni Arabs to engage in the reconciliation, the party is now part of the government and it adopts its initiatives. The party’s position, therefore, does not reflect the views of the Sunni Arabs, the resistance, and the Islamists.”
On the kidnappings, which reached Iraqi members of parliament, Al-Mutlaq said: “Kidnappings target everyone, including the members of parliament. This shows the weakness of the state and the chaos and corruption in the security agencies. Member of parliament Taysir al-Mashhadani was kidnapped before the eyes of the state security forces and agencies. She was kidnapped by one of the influential militias working with the state. They are negotiating her release. They sent us demands. The one who kidnapped Taysir and the electricity under secretary is affiliated with one of the ruling parties, and he was released after 24 hours.” He said the government knows who carries out the kidnappings but is unable or unserious in dealing with the kidnappers.
On National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay’i’s request for the extradition of Sajidah, wife of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and his daughter Raghad, the head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front said: “Al-Rubay’i’s demand at this time reflects an attempt to marginalize and foil the national reconciliation and weaken Al-Maliki’s government, as there is struggle of ideas within the coalition.” He added: “Some known parties did not like to see Al-Maliki at the head of the government. They reluctantly accepted his government and they are trying to bring it down at the earliest opportunity. This is their top priority. I believe the extradition demand is unsuccessful as it harms the ethics of the Iraqis as Arabs.” Al-Mutlaq added: “Everyone knows that President Saddam’s wife and daughter are not involved in any political or executive activity outside Iraq. Everyone knows their (bad) financial situation and the restrictions imposed on them.” He said the demand for their extradition “shows the weakness of the government.” He called on the Jordanian parliament and government to reject Baghdad’s request because it conflicts with Arab traditions regarding women and good neighborliness.