Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saleh al Mutlak, head of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue has stated that his parliamentary bloc will question Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on the incident last week in which the Sunni leader was held at a Dutch airport. Mutlak stressed that the incident is related to administrative corruption within the ministry.
Mutlak said that if the US forces continue to besiege Al-Ramadi, he would call for sit-ins in all governorates, pointing out that most of the leaders of the coalition for national reconciliation do not have sincere intentions for national reconciliation. He called for the participation of Baathists, nationalists, and members of the former Iraqi army in dialogue and national reconciliation.
Concerning the incident in which Mutlak was prevented from boarding a plane to Amman in the Netherlands, Mutlak said that it confirms the level of administrative corruption that exists within Iraqi embassies abroad, the indifference of some of Iraqi ambassadors, and the unbalanced structure of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry from which Arab elements have been excluded. He adds that the ambassadors who were appointed are clearly inefficient as they have no diplomatic experience and were appointed based on ethnic and party considerations. He added that on the other side, the Dutch authorities take strong measures against Iraqis. He states that the Iraqi Foreign Ministry did not respect the members of Iraqi parliament and issued them passports of the third category, the same passports that are given to ordinary citizens. The foreign ministry issued these passports to members of parliament whilst an employee of the third category at the Foreign Ministry holds a diplomatic passport. The Foreign Ministry also issued diplomatic passports to people who do not even hold diplomatic status and whose positions do not entitle them to have such passports. Mutlak added that this patronizing stand towards members of parliament has made countries adopt stringent measures towards these passport holders. Mutlak further highlighted that though he held a normal passport, his status as a member of parliament was documented in the passport and this made the Dutch authorities suspicious. He added, “The Iraqi ambassador in the Netherlands did not contact me though many politicians did.”
On the future measures that his bloc will take Mutlak said, “We will request that the foreign minister is questioned and that the passports are replaced with diplomatic ones.”
On the security plan to protect Baghdad that the government had announced, Mutlak said, “We do not want to adopt a negative attitude from the very beginning and say that it is a failure from the start. However, the plan did not start on the correct track and it would have been better if it had it begun by purging the groups and militias that killed, kidnapped, and tortured many defenseless people in the interior and defense ministries. These officers must be dismissed so that the ministries would have a clean record. If this takes place, citizens would then cooperate with them. However, when they see that raids based on ethnic and sectarian reasons, and killing and kidnapping is taking place within these areas, one cannot imagine that the forces that implement the security plan are the same forces that take part in these crimes. I was hoping that the national dialogue would begin before the security plan because it costs less and is more realistic, particularly that the security dilemma requires a political and not a military solution as the latter is futile and we have only had destruction and an escalation of counter violence as a result of this policy.”
Mutlak added, “There is strong communication between us and the US forces to stop the attacks on Ramadi and we managed to delay the operation for some time, however we did not stop it. If the attacks take place, what can we tell the people, as Zarqawi, who was the reason for attacking Fallujah, is dead? If they continue to storm cities, which lead to an increase in violence on the streets of Iraq, then we will be forced to call for sit-ins in the Iraqi governorates to support Ramadi.”
Mutlak stated that most of the leader in the coalition for national reconciliation do not actually want national reconciliation because they came to power as a result of a political coup, controlled Iraq through the US military, and want to exploit the situation for as long as possible to maintain their control on the state ministries and channel all the state revenues to their parties and supporters. Therefore, national reconciliation is not in their interest. We say that national reconciliation serves those who are outside the government. Without national reconciliation, they (those in power) will remain prisoners in their houses and within their constituencies in the Green Zone that is surrounded by barbed wire. Therefore, they will not enjoy power. Those in power cannot be expected to carry out any positive role and the Iraqis will continue to suffer, lawlessness will increase, security will deteriorate and the people will rise against all those who monopolize power.
As for the demands of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue concerning national reconciliation, Mutlak said, “We want national reconciliation to have its supporters and opponents. We do not want any side to set red lines, as this does not serve the interests of any political faction.” He added, “We expect national reconciliation will succeed if it is made up of all parties, including the national resistance, the Baathists, the nationalists, and the members of the former Iraqi army. The political forces should be ready to make vital amendments to the constitution as this constitution has encouraged security disorder in the country.” He added that one of the positive results of the national reconciliation conference would be the establishment of a genuine national unity government based on efficiency, honesty and not on sectarian or party affiliation.
With reference to the increasing Iranian role in Iraq, Mutlak said that Iran has a large influence on Iraq that is bigger than that of the United States and Britain, the main two occupying forces. He added that Iran has more influence over Iraq than the Arabs have. What is strange is that those who are in power justify and encourage this interference, for example, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has stated that Iran has the right to intervene given that it is a major power that had helped the opposition parties during the former regime, as if the Iraqis have to pay some kind of a price for what these opposition members had endured.
Concerning contact with members of the Iraqi national resistance Mutlak said, “I believe that communication with the resistance was marginal and was not held with the actual leaders of the resistance. I believe that the resistance will not respond positively to any call as long as it feels that this conference will not succeed because the parties in power have no good intentions and because keeping the Baathist and the former Iraq army away means there can be no Iraqi national reconciliation, therefore, isolating the resistance.”