London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Jawad al-Bulani, Iraqi interior minister and secretary general of the Iraq Unity bloc, has said that the initiative of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the custodian of the two holy shrines, is “important, sincere, honest, and gracious”. He pointed out that the goal of the initiative is “to help the Iraqi people and it complements the national initiative launched by Masud Barzani,” the president of the Kurdistan Region.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad, Al-Bulani said: “The Saudi monarch’s initiative is a sincere and important call in support of the political climate in Iraq and to promote national reconciliation among the various Iraqi parties”. He added that the “Iraqi national blocs welcomed the initiative of the Saudi monarch and view it with appreciation and high interest. This Saudi initiative should be achieved, particularly since it refers to respect for the Iraqi political decision. It adds that the decision of the Iraqi political leaders is a national one and that these leaders are responsible for it”.
The Iraqi interior minister asserted: “Iraq needs national, Arab, and Islamic initiatives in support of the efforts of its sincere sons. King Abdullah’s and President Barzani’s initiatives fall under this context. Saudi Arabia is a fraternal Arab and Muslim country and thus expresses its concern for the unity of Iraq and its people”. He added: “It is important for political decisions to stem from the realities in Iraq and to be made on Iraqi soil. Such decisions should defend national unity. The aim of the Saudi monarch’s initiative is to preserve our people’s unity. It does not interfere in Iraqi affairs and does not influence its political decisions. It is indeed a gracious initiative”.
Al-Bulani went on to say that “the absence of national will because some political sides are biased and fall under external influences and positions has weakened the domestic political front”. He cautioned that the “real danger that threatens the future and unity of Iraq and its people is the lack of agreement among the Iraqi political blocs. That is why all the political sides in Iraq should agree to form a national partnership government that does not marginalize any political entity or side. Such a government should focus on the national interests and strengthen the principles and values on which state building and the building of institutions are based. Such a government makes all the Iraqis sense that they are present and represented. Otherwise, hard times await Iraq and the Iraqi people if national unity is not achieved”. The secretary general of the Iraq Unity bloc added: “Any government that is formed without the Al-Iraqiya List headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, the [Iraqi] Islamic Supreme Council [IISC] headed by Ammar al-Hakim, the Kurdish Alliance headed by President Masud Barzani, and any political or social and national force or entity that contributed to building the Iraqi state after the fall of the dictatorial regime would not be able to confront the challenges of the future. Such a government would not be able to resolve the problems that will arise if principal lists – such as the Al-Iraqiya List, the IISC, and the Kurdistan Alliance – are not present in it”.
Interior Minister Al-Bulani commented on the plans of the center current and on whether it has decided to join a larger bloc. The center current consists of Al-Bulani’s Iraq Unity bloc (four parliamentary seats), and the Al-Tawafuq Front (six parliamentary seats) headed by Iyad al-Samarrai, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party and former parliament speaker. Al-Bulani said: “The center current is holding discussions with everyone in order to bring the viewpoints of the various political groups closer together. We are all closely monitoring the current discussions among the principal blocs that are taking place within the framework of President Barzani’s initiative”. He added: “All the blocs are occupied in dialogues to reach a roadmap that would lead to the formation of a national partnership government that does not exclude or marginalize any political or social entity. This roadmap will be presented later to the dialogue among the bloc leaders that is expected to be held in the coming days after the dialogues among the representatives of the political blocs that are meeting today under the supervision of Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nuri Shawis conclude. This too is subject to the nature of the current dialogues”. Al-Bulani said that the current dialogues among the representatives of the political blocs – as part of President Barzani’s initiative – are “not serious, unclear, and lack candor”. He added: “Sufficient candor should be available to deal with all the problems that obstruct the formation of the national partnership government and to discuss all the contentious points clearly”. Al-Bulani went on to say: “Dialogues among the various political blocs are important in order to ensure the formation of a government that shoulders its national responsibilities, that adopts the institutional approach in all its functions, and that is responsible for implementing a national political program in which all the national political forces participate. Such a program should strengthen the relationship among the executive and legislative institutions in the coming stage”.
The interior minister talked about the crime that targeted the Church of Sayyidat al-Najat in the Al-Karradah neighborhood near the Al-Rasafah suburb of Baghdad and the circumstances that accompanied this operation “that led to the martyrdom of innocent victims”. He said: “The circumstances surrounding the Church of Al-Najat operation are complicated. We are fighting against terrorist Al-Qaeda members and organized crime gangsters. These criminal groups do not hesitate to shed pure and innocent Iraqi blood”. Al-Bulani said “It is important to review the security file. This is one of the most important responsibilities and tasks of the next government”. He pointed out that the “Al-Najat Church operation was the responsibility of and was carried out by the Baghdad operations department and the anti-terrorism organ”. Answering a question on who is in charge of the Baghdad Operations Department and the anti-terrorism organ and from whom they take their orders, Al-Bulani was brief in his answer when he said, “It is well known who is in charge of these organs” in a clear reference to the office of Nuri al-Maliki, the commander in chief of the armed forces and the prime minister whose term has ended. Al-Bulani said: “What is important is to consolidate responsibilities in accordance with institutional action. This is very important in the field of security”.
Regarding reports that the intelligence organs had informed the security organs, including Baghdad Operations, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Interior about a scheme to assault churches, the interior minister said: “The information that reaches or that is available through intelligence organs requires Baghdad Operations to take a number of precautionary measures to protect threatened areas and everywhere”. However, he added: “Terrorism has targeted everything. The terrorist attacks have not excluded anyone whether civilians or policemen, members of the army, hospitals, houses of worship, and residential neighborhoods. The barbaric and savage terrorist operations do not spare any target”.