Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- Hazem al Shaalan, the former Iraqi defense minister, signaled his intention to return to Baghdad and stand for election after meeting with his supporters and representatives from across the Iraqi political spectrum.
Speaking to Asharq al Awsat from his home in London, the head of the Parliament of National Powers list said, “I will return to run my election campaign in collaboration with others” and indicated he would to form an alliance with liberal political forces in the next parliament.
Last month, Iraqi authorities issued arrest warrants for 27 senior officials from the interim government, including al Shaalan, for their role in the embezzlement of more than 1 billion dollars.
The former defense minister dismissed the allegations said he would fight to clear his name. He blamed pro-Iranian elements in the new government who wanted to discredit him.
Earmarked for weapons purchases, the money is believed to have been taken from the defense ministry to fund corrupt deals. Shoddy and outdated military equipment was purchased that seriously impaired the fight against insurgents.
Explaining his political program, al Shaalan indicated, “One of our main goals is to achieve security, justice, equality and dialogue with the honorable national resistance.”
His vision was for the Parliament of National Powers to represent “a firm answer to the enemies of Iraqi plotting to divide it, by proposing an independent, unified and democratic Iraq with full sovereignty over its land and people.”
As such, the list’s program of action “was primarily based on giving priority to the issue of security by establishing a new army with modern military techniques and equipment. It will also feature the brightest scientific minds and act as a real shield and protect the borders of Iraq.”
If he returns to power, “We will also build the various branches of the internal security organs to enable them to uproot and eradicate terrorism and organized crime in order for the people of Iraq to enjoy the security they have been deprived of for so long.”
Al Shaalan also expressed his desire to “combat discrimination between the people of Iraq and rebuild the water and electricity infrastructures and all other vital services. The people of Iraq have suffered from the deterioration of these services in the last few years because of the failure of various governments to honor their repeated promises.”
Commenting on the torture of Iraqi prisoners in the basement of an Interior Ministry building in the al Jadriyah district in Baghdad, the ex-Minister said, “We condemn these violations and the assassination campaign of Iraqis whose bodies are being dumped by the Iranian-Iraqi border or in other areas. The government needs to take the necessary measures to put a stop to these practices and arrest those responsible and shame them in the media.”
The former Defense Minister complained that several top officials in his list “were threatened by members of Islamic lists to force them to withdraw from the elections. One was abducted a few days ago and his kidnappers were policemen using modern vehicles and equipped with sophisticated weapons.”
Addressing the citizens of Iraq, al Shaalan indicated, “We, in the Parliament of the National Powers, will work to pave the way for a climate which allows the Iraqi voter to choose his true representatives in the upcoming elections according to certain rules and democratic checks. The citizens of Iraq should not be swayed by slogans that use religion for factional and partisan interests in order to monopolize power. This will only lead to the promotion of a sectarian government and the absence of the spirit of citizenship.”