Press TV has conducted an interview with Sa’ad al-Muttalibi, with the State of Law Coalition, in Baghdad, about Iraq failing to select a new Parliamentary speaker amid the terrorism crisis in the country.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Before we move on to the military aspect of the conflict in Iraq we’re starting with the political face of all this – Do you think Mr. Maliki should agree to have someone else replace him for the political situation or the political atmosphere at least to calm down a bit? Who do you blame for this political impasse?
al-Muttalibi: I don’t see why he should step down and I don’t understand how this will assist in reducing the violence.
The problem isn’t a political issue. We have war on terror. We have war against ISIL and ISIL have come to Iraq from Syria where it joined forces with the Baath Party and the old al-Qaeda that is operating in Iraq plus some other insurgent groups that were fighting the United States.
So, the real power of ISIL is the collection or the collective power of those who have the greatest experience in fighting the military; from the experience they gained fighting the Americans and fighting the Iraqi government.
So the issue isn’t a political issue to understand that Maliki stepping down will resolve any matter. Assuming that Maliki step down, who should replace Maliki with the ready available experience to ace ISIL at this very, very critical time in Iraq’s history?
I think this is a very weak argument that was presented by some of the opposition that Maliki is part of the problem where actually those politicians who created this fertile ground in Iraq for regional and internal conflict to rise… Those politicians should be charged, should be questioned and maybe should be asked to leave political life.
Press TV: What can you tell us about the Sunni population in Iraq? We’re hearing a lot of reports talking about – as our guest in London was putting it – the disenchanted part of the population who at least initially say they gave support to these groups. Do you see this as part of the problem, the sectarian part of this?
al-Muttalibi: No I can assure you there isn’t a sectarian issue as such because if there were we would have witnessed already the start of a civil war and particularly here in Baghdad where there is a large number of Sunni population living in Baghdad in quarters that are quite vulnerable to attack or reprisal attacks if there were such a civil war.
Yes it’s true, I’d like to come back to the point, that Maliki has the largest bloc in the parliament, but it isn’t sufficient to form the government. We have already understandings with the major Sunni blocs to form (unity). We actually do have now a majority of the parliament, we have more than 55 percent of the parliament; we can go and form majority government, but we are trying to open the door for a unity government where we can include as much of the political entities as possible: to add the Kurds and more Sunnis and more Shias in forming the government.
I must say this is all political. The Hakim group and the Sadera’s group they’re just basically bargaining for their extra benefits in the government. They don’t really care what happens they just want their fat ministries and they will be very happy. The same goes for another group of Sunnis.
And the Kurds of course Want their presidency. So if the Kurds decide who their representative or candidate is for their presidency – and we would not object to that particular person – we could have this issue resolved.
Today in the parliament the argument wasn’t with the state, the argument was within the Sunni groups themselves. They failed to reach an agreement on the representing or sending one nominee for head of the parliament. We didn’t have an issue with the Sunnis, they had an issue between themselves. That’s proof that there is a political problem here inI the middle and has nothing to do with sectarianism as some international media portrays.
Now… the danger of the Kurds moving into Kirkuk is a major danger because we expect from our experience with the Kurds, we can see a forward Israeli base in Kirkuk spying on our neighbors and spying on Iraq. We already have disturbing news of a number of Israeli officers already in Kurdistan monitoring what is happening and actually supporting ISIL.
So it’s a very complicated issue has become with Kurdistan with the Kurdish entering into Kirkuk and reaching the Iranian border from the south.
Press TV: We know that John Kerry was meeting with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and he said they’re going to coordinate a response against the ISIL militants. What do you think about the role the US administration is playing here?
al-Muttalibi: I think the Americans have quite an uphill battle to reverse the damage they’ve already done in Syria and that damage that effected us in Iraq. So I think this may come of certain benefits for Iraq if Saudi Arabia takes a stiffer opposition against terrorism and against some of the young people who are manipulated to work with ISIL.
In regard to Israel I must disagree with your guest (said Israel was meddling I Kurdistan region for Kurdish independence, but has no real weight) because already Israel is the main beneficiary of the Kurdistan oil. So, Israel has a bright future in cheap oil – first grade light Middle East oil – reaching their shores at a fraction of the OPEC price.
So, Israel has a great deal of interest and success on the energy factor plus to expand its operations into northern Kurdistan and to adjacent borders with Iran. We already have reports that there are actions, witnesses seeing Israeli officers try to locate positions close to the Iranian border for monitoring stations.
So I’m sure Israel would be very happy to have an independent Kurdistan supplying them with almost free oil and supplying them with clandestine stations to monitor Iran.
Press TV: Do you think the American policy failures are a result of a lack of understanding or rather deliberate? We know Rand Paul for instance saying we have been arming ISIS in Syria and we have reports of the training of insurgents in Jordan, the same insurgents who are now fighting in Iraq.
al-Muttalibi: I think the Americans really don’t know what they’re doing. They lack experience in the Middle East; they lack understanding of the Middle East. I remember giving lectures in the American embassy here in Baghdad on the differences between Shia and Sunni, why some are Shia and why some are Sunnis and why Iraq was ruled by a tiny minority for hundreds of years; and why the vast majority of Shia were never in power here in Iraq.
Again this is a thing repeated in for example in Bahrain where a huge majority of Shia is ruled by a tiny minority of Sunnis. So they do lack experience, they don’t understand what the Middle East is about; they don’t understand the structure of religion.
They do have some great scientists who understand the literature of the Middle East, but unfortunately to go deep into the personality of the Middle Eastern people I think they lack experience – unlike Britain who actually used their knowledge into creating a very unstable Middle East.