Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ali al-Mousawi, the leader of the Iraqi delegation that is attending the Council of Arab Information Ministers in the UAE, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country is keen on establishing a good relationship with Syria, and that the Justice and Accountability law does not prevent all Baathists from entering [political] life, but merely scrutinizes the background of electoral candidates standing at the forthcoming election for Baathist ties.
Al-Mousawi, who is the media adviser to Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki, spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Council of Arab Information Ministers meeting. He revealed that “Iraq is keen on establishing good relations with all countries, especially Syria, however at the same time Iraq asks and insists that its sisterly country [Syria] does not interfere in its affairs, and at the very least with those affairs that involve the media. For there are Iraqi channels that broadcast programs from Damascus that support the armed attacks [in Iraq] and attempt to mobilize the public, and this is something that cannot be tolerated. Even if the al-Maliki government went and another government assumed power, it can be assumed that it would make the same demands, for no government will assume power in Iraq and then forget the interests of the Iraqi people.”
As for the Iraqi delegations priorities at this special meeting of Arab Information Ministers, al-Mousawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we are suffering from a problem which is that many Arab states continue to look at Iraq, intentionally or unintentionally, as if it is a country under occupation. However these occupying forces have now left as part of an agreement with an elected and legitimate government, and what remains [of these forces] are limited and [will remain] for a specific time…and at the end of 2011 the entire occupation force will leave, and in this case it is therefore not meaningful to talk about the occupation of Iraq.”
Al-Mousawi also said that the Iraqi society “is diverse, and all Arab communities are included in it, all different races, religions, and sects, and we must protect this diversity, by respecting all [varieties] and not transgressing against one another. This is something that must be part of all media, and so whenever any media or party or sect has a media outlet it attacks others, and this is something that we reject because it creates chaos and disintegration.”
Al-Mousawi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that he supports the idea of establishing a watchdog for Arab media, saying “I support the idea of encouraging all official and non-official media parties to form something similar to a task force, with a representative of the Arab League participating in this committee so that its decisions are binding, but when there are ministries of information doing anything [they want], then the issue is difficult.”
As for Iraqi electoral candidates being prevented from standing for election as a result of Debathification, al-Mousawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the first step to resolve the problem must be to put this problem in its proper context, and this is that it is a constitutional issue, that is present in the constitution, and there is a constitutional body to resolve this issue. This body has issued decisions that some supports, and some others which some reject or oppose, but there are judicial authorities that are capable of resolving this dispute, therefore I think politicizing this completely invalidates it, and this is why a statement was issued by the president in which he called on the commission to adhere to professionalism and not to politicize its decisions so that its decisions are legal, and this is the correct way.”
As for the security measures taken by the Iraqi government to protect the elections which are scheduled to take place in March, al-Mousawi said “we have full assurances that the elections will be held on time and in a good manner, and I will not anticipate events and say that nothing will happen, but certainly it will run more smoothly than the previous elections because the security apparatus are now more complete, experienced, and proficient due to the experience of the previous elections.”