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Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Saleh al-Mutlaq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, which is part of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, described the ongoing violations being committed by the government forces against the people living in Baghdad’s district of Adhamiya as being “dangerous.” Al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “one of the oldest areas of Baghdad is living under a tragic siege, as foodstuffs or anything else is not permitted to enter this area, and its residents are not allowed to leave…not even for medical treatment. This blockade is similar to the one being imposed upon the people of Gaza by the Zionist forces in terms of its goals and results.” Al-Mutlaq also indicated that “there has also been [a campaign of] random arrests, this includes the arrests of university professors and students, secondary school teachers and students, and former officers. This is part of a malicious and vindictive process that is contrary to the laws and constitution, and is taking place without any judicial orders [being issued for this].”

Al-Mutlaq, who was speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Amman yesterday, also said that “the security authorities are carrying out arrests and violations against the innocent people of Adhamiya, despite the evidence and documents that confirm that the terrorists who carried out the operation against the police and soldiers in Adhamiya three days ago came from outside of the city and left it [Baghdad] after carrying out this criminal operation, which is something that we condemn.”

He added that “what is strange is that with the exception of the efforts and statements [issued by] the Iraqiya bloc, no other bloc has said anything to condemn the illegal and inhumane practices against the people of Adhamiya. This is a very serious issue, and it means that all [electoral] blocs, with the exception of the Iraqiya bloc and the Unity Alliance of Iraq that is led by Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, are only concerned with certain regions or sects or nationalities.”

Al-Mutlaq stressed that to Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is something that is extremely dangerous; as how can this be reconciled with a national framework? How can they govern Iraq? We are not defending the people of Adhamiya because they are Sunnis, but because first and foremost, they are Iraqi. We defended and continue to defend the people of Sadr City, Najaf, Karbala, Amarah, and Basra, and everywhere in Iraq, from a purely nationalistic perspective.”

Dr. Al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was demanding “an immediate end to the inhumane actions against the people of Adhamiya, and for those responsible for this to be held accountable and brought to justice.”

Regarding the political stagnation surrounding the process of forming Iraq’s next government, al-Mutlaq said “I think that the majority of political blocs in power are embroiled in cases of financial and administrative corruption, death crimes, and illegal arrests, therefore they don’t want to leave their position in power because they fear being taken to trial and held accountable [for this].” He added that “today there are two pressures on some political blocs; firstly there is the pressure from Iran on two coalitions, the National Iraqi Alliance (that is led by Ammar al-Hakim, who is also the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) and the State of Law coalition (that is led by the prime minister of the outgoing government Nouri al-Maliki). This is in order for the National Iraqi Alliance to continue to prevent the Iraqiya bloc from exercising its constitutional and legal right to form the next government as the victorious coalition at the elections. This is despite the fact that two parties within the National Iraqi Alliance are ideologically opposed, and statements from both sides highlight the extent of the contradiction between them.”

Al-Mutlaq informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the second pressure is that America wants the Iraqiya bloc to ally with the State of Law coalition, and for Allawi and al-Maliki to come to an agreement, with the latter [al-Maliki] remaining prime minister. However Allawi insists that this would undermine the Iraqiya bloc’s constitutional duty [to form the next government], and this stands in the way of any such alliance.”

The Iraqi National Dialogue Front leader added that “there are those who want to stay in power at all coasts, even if this cost is the division of Iraq, or as a result of [receiving] insulting Iranian support.” He went on to say that “the position of this sect or that sect has nothing to do with the social reality or the Iraqi constitution. Just as we do not accept our brothers the Shiites, or the Kurds, or any other religious or national component living as second class citizens, the Sunnis also reject being considered second class Iraqis.”

Al-Mutlaq also called on “the religious marjas in Iraq who have announced their impartiality to issue fatwas on whether there should be certain [governmental] posts assigned to this sect or that, and whether some posts should not be given to certain sects. Anybody talking in this sectarian manner cannot govern the country, for he would be a failed ruler. The objective behind such proposals is to remain in power through excuses and detestable sectarian programs, and this is their means to remain in their posts. Initiatives such as this will lead the country into dangerous conflicts, and in fact these [initiatives] seek to divide Iraq, which is their aim.”

As for the ongoing attempts to marginalize the Iraqiya bloc, al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “nobody should expect stability in this country when the Iraqiya bloc is being marginalized, as this is something that will have serious repercussions. Our coalition represents every component of society and denounces sectarianism; we have a national program which unites all Iraqis.”