Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat- At a time when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denied that he held talks with Iraqi tribal leaders when he visited Damascus, President of the Council of the Iraqi Tribal Leaders Aziz Nazhan al-Sadid affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Iraqi tribal leaders who reside in Damascus refused to meet Al-Maliki.
He said: “We categorically refused to meet Al-Maliki because he does not represent the Iraqi people in an occupied country that enjoys no sovereignty.”
He added: “Some people think that we are sad over the former regime, while in fact we are sad for Iraq and the difficult situation in Baghdad.”
Asked why he refused to meet Al-Maliki, the senior chief of the Shammar Tribe said: “Al-Maliki seeks to dictate to us what he wants at a time when he puts his hand in Iran’s hand and defends Iran. The elections are approaching, and we will see what Al-Maliki will do.”
Explaining the Iraqi tribes’ stand, he added: “We are against killing, arrests, and the terrorism, which is practiced by Al-Qaeda and Islamic organizations that target the Iraqis. But we support the honorable Iraqi resistance that resists the occupation.”
When asked who is meant by the “honorable resistance”, Sheikh Al-Sadid said: “It is the resistance, which is represented by the Political Council of the Resistance with which the Americans began to negotiate. It is this council that represents the resistance and the Iraqi people. This resistance exists in the field, not abroad.”
He emphasized that reconciliation with Al-Maliki is very difficult “because Al-Maliki extends his hand to the occupation and to a neighboring country (reference to Iran) to take his decisions from it.”
He said: “We will support him if he extends his hand to Syria, Jordan, and any other Arab country. However, we do not support him when he takes his decisions from a neighboring country, which claims to be a friend while it is an enemy in disguise.”
Clarifying his opinion of the establishment of an Iraqi-Syrian strategic cooperation council under the government of Al-Maliki, Al-Sadid said “it is a protocol cooperation.”
He likened the status of Al-Maliki and Iraq as the elections approach to “a person ill with cancer at its final stages where chemical dozes are no longer useful.”
He added that the government of Al-Maliki “did nothing for Iraq, but opened it to the Americans so that they may tamper with it.”
The senior chief of the Shammar Tribe concluded his statement by asserting that the Iraqi tribes are in control in all parts of Iraq and that they seek a unified, stable, and safe Iraq for all Iraqis. He added: “We are against sectarianism, division, federalism, and regionalism.”
Al-Maliki, who denied that he met with tribal leaders, called on the other forces to return to Iraq. He said: “With regard to the other forces, we welcome them to come to Baghdad to present what they have. We also welcome all those who join the political process under the constitution, but they must not be among those whose hands are stained with blood.”
According to reports quoting a media source at the Iraqi Embassy in Damascus, Al-Maliki met in Damascus with a number of Iraqi refugees for two hours. He listened to their demands and urged them to return to Iraq to participate in rebuilding it.
According to informed sources that attended the meetings, the refugees’ demands were personal and most of them expressed the magnitude of the refugees’ suffering, their difficult circumstances, and the difficulty of their return to Iraq after they were displaced and their homes and properties were plundered.
The sources said that the leader of the Al-Sabiah al-Mandaiyin Sect, Sheikh Sattar Jabbar Hilu, was present at the meeting and demanded that “the sect and its legal and constitutional rights be represented in the Iraqi Parliament.”
The sources said a number of people who were officially invited to the meeting were not allowed to enter, and this caused confusion while members of the Council of Iraqi Tribal Chiefs stayed outside the hall in a state of anger and protest against this behavior.