Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ammar al-Hakim, son of Abdulaziz a-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has declared that he reached understanding with the Jordanian authorities "to forget the past and talk about the present and the future." Al-Hakim had earlier made strong statements against Jordan following the suicide attack in the city of Al-Hillah, south of Baghdad, last February in which over 100 Iraqi civilians were killed. It was reported that the suicide bomber was a Jordanian national and that his family opened their home in Jordan to accept congratulations rather than condolences for his death in the bombing. Al-Hakim admitted weakness in the Iraqi Government”s performance and strongly denied the presence of any Iranian influence in Iraq.
Just before he ended his unannounced visit to Amman, Al-Hakim Told Asharq al-Awsat in reply to a question on the reasons for the visit, which included meetings with King Abdullah II and senior Government and Parliamentary officials, that "Jordan had given positive signals in recent months which are commensurate with our desires concerning the new political reality in Iraq. That is what we are aspiring for in defining our relations with the neighboring countries and the international community. The better they understand the new Iraqi political reality, the more progress we can realize in strengthening and entrenching relations."
Al-Hakim added, "We have come with a clear message to Jordan. After we received the aforementioned signals, we said that we did not want to talk about the past; we wanted to talk about today and tomorrow. Naturally, we do not want to delve into the past except in matters related to our relationships today and in the future. We are realistic. We realize that there are certain political circumstances that made some of the states in the region define their policies toward Iraq in a certain manner. Today we do not want to open the painful wounds of the past. We want to be open to the future and build our policies and establish the principles of our relations with Iraq and the region and world countries on the basis of the future position and resources of Iraq and the great interests that bring together all these states."
Al-Hakim said that the visit came at the invitation of the Jordanian monarch. He said, general of the Al-Mihrab Martyr Foundation for Islamic Call and I made this visit accordingly."
Asked to evaluate the current Iraqi conditions and the performance of the transitional government, Al-Hakim said, "I am optimistic by nature and we must look at the achievements and not the failures. We must not forget the problems and the obstacles but this must be done within an evaluation of the situation. We must consider the size of the gains and achievements in this great project. The problems are always commensurate with the size of these gains and achievements. Therefore, I feel that we are progressing. The drafting of the constitution is an achievement. The agreement on this constitution by all Iraqi sides despite reservations of various kinds on this constitution is also a progress. This means that the Iraqis have shared the rights and duties and I consider this progress. We will go to the referendum and see the results."
Al-Hakim added, "No doubt the Government”s performance is weak. I believe that if we want to be fair, we must look at the issue from all sides and must not blame the ministers or the prime minister and say that their inefficacy and the lack of experience of the Government led to this situation. This may not be a logical reasoning. I do not believe that any other government formed by the good men whom we know in Iraq now would have been able to tackle these problems within months. I do not absolve the administration of all blame and deny any bad performance but I also do not hold the administration responsible for these burdens and forget the other reasons. We are looking forward to a better performance under the upcoming elected government in which all the Iraqis will participate and grant their confidence to those who they think are worthy of their trust."
Answering a question on the belief by some that the central and southern federation proposed by his father Abdulaziz al-Hakim would be transformed into an Iranian protectorate, Ammar al-Hakim said: "This has been repeatedly said and we heard it here from certain circles. There are apprehensions and questions but what are the justifications for these apprehensions and questions? Why do they talk about Iranian influence? Are there active Iranians in Iraq? We cannot see them. Show them to us; we want to know who they are. If we are accused of representing the Iranian influence because we had been residing in Iran, then we ask: Do those who were residing in Jordan, Syria, Britain, the United States, and other countries represent an influence for these states in Iraq? Why are the sons of the center and the south always subjected to suspicion? Is not this connected with the policy which the defunct regime tried to consecrate and establish; namely, that the patriotism and true Arab identity of the sons of the center and the south is always in doubt; that they were sometimes accused of being Zoroastrians, Mongolians, Indians, or others?"
Al-Hakim added, "Our relationship with Iran is positive and strong and we are working to make our relations with all our neighbors constructive and clear. However, relations are something and interference and influence are quite another thing. We support good relations with the neighboring states and oppose interference in Iraq”s internal matters by any of the neighboring states."
Al-Hakim said that claims that there are Iranian intelligence centers and that SCIRI receives monthly financial backing from Iran that exceeds $22 million are being circulated outside and not inside Iraq. The Iraqis inside Iraq are living in the reality. Had there been Iranians, they would have seen them with their own eyes. Had there been Iranian intelligence centers, the Iraqi citizens would have seen them. Is it possible to have Iranian intelligence centers in Iraq with the presence of 140,000 US soldiers? Is it possible for the US intelligence to fail to discover these centers? Had Iran had such a presence, everyone would have been able to ascertain this, and the space channel television stations that are filling Iraq would have shown them on television."
Al-Hakim thought unlikely that Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani will announce his backing for any electoral list in the elections scheduled later this year similar to his backing for the Unified Iraqi Coalition list during the previous elections. He said, "I think this is unlikely. The religious authority will bless the political process and encourage people to participate in elections. The religious authority might make it a duty for the Iraqis to participate in the process. It is possible for the authority to define criteria and specifications for those who must be elected but I do not believe it will specify names and certain lists and say: Vote for this or for that candidate."