Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A senior member of the Iraqiya List led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia was aimed at “returning Iraq to the Arab system.” Ayad Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz caused controversy in Iraq due to its timing, coming only a few days prior to the elections, opening the door to speculation over the possibility that the Iraqiya List is receiving material support from Saudi Arabia.
However Hassan al-Alawi, a senior member of the Iraqiya List who accompanied Ayad Allawi during his visit to Saudi Arabia denied that this visit had anything to do with the elections. In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday, al-Alawi said “if the intention [of this visit] was to obtain financing, it [the visit] would have taken place 6 months ago. It is not in the logic of the elections or the logic of accounting for a movement to be financed two weeks prior to the elections, there are regional countries that have financed their movements for two years, and built financing and assistance institutions and you will find they have more adverts and more election propaganda.”
Al-Alawi also clarified that Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia as the head of an Iraqiya List delegation was equivalent to “a message [to the Arab world with regards to the near future, and this has nothing to do with the issue of financing or support for the elections, and these are things that need months to prepare.”
The senior member of the Iraqiya List also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqiya delegation fully understood the viewpoints that were presented to them with regards to the current reality in Iraq and the prospects for its future. He pointed out that the Iraqiya List “aims to obtain an Arab share in the situation in Iraq, and put a stop to any negative possibilities that may be generated as a result of the ambiguities that have appeared in Iraq in recent days, particularly as we approach the legislative elections.”
Al-Alawi also said that the opinions that were presented during Ayad Allawi’s meeting with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz were identical, such as the necessity “for the elections to be transparent and fair, and for all Iraqis to participate in this.” Al-Alawi also stressed the importance of “the Arab community being informed of the developments in the political process, and invited Arab states to support the political process in Iraq in order to preserve the civil peace in Iraq.”
According to Al-Alawi, Ayad Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia took place in order “to consult on the turning points that are set to take place in the near future which concern the Arab region in particular.” He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Allawi – King Abdullah talks concluded that “the Iraqi people are tired and exhausted, and Iraq must return to its Arab role, and the Iraqi people must return to their social unity which is their basis.” He added “What we heard from King Abdullah is reassuring, and I continue to echo what Omar al-Khattab said in Kufa, but I say this in Saudi Arabia, and that is that it is the heart of Islam and the Arab world.”
Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia was part of an Arab tour which included visits to Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt as well as a second stage of visits to Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Al-Alawi confirmed the importance of the Iraqiya List delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia, saying “its visit [to Saudi Arabia] and listening to the viewpoint of an important Arab leader such as King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz will be very useful for assisting the Iraqi electoral process.”
It is worth mentioning that other than Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his Arab tour did not cause any controversy in the Iraqi street. Iraqiya List member Hassan al-Alawi explained this was because of “the importance of Saudi Arabia in the Arab region and its representation as the Arab paradigm in the region.”
According to Hassan al-Alawi, the aim of Ayad Allawi’s Arab tour was “to break the isolation and seclusion that was necessitated by the conditions of the previous stage in Iraq.” He added “Iraq is now suffering from what is akin to a diplomatic blockade from the Arab world, and until now there is a negative reality [towards Iraq] in the Arab diplomacy. We seek to immediately lift this blockade, and send a message to the Arab world informing it that the coming Iraq is open to the Arab atmosphere and is cooperative and has a major role, and the forthcoming election’s will end Iraq’s isolation from the Arab world.”
Hassan al-Alawi also vigorously defended the role played by Ayad Allawi with regards to Saleh Mutlaq being prohibited from standing at the elections, saying “what is being said about the [Iraqiya] List not having a position on this issue is not true, we continue to insist that this issue cannot be resolved through the media but must be resolved through other more effective means.” Al-Alawi also confirmed that Mutlaq was still included as a member of the Iraqiya List, despite his decision to suspend his participation in the forthcoming elections that are scheduled to take place on 7 March 2010.