Iyad Allawi: If Maliki tries to form a government in Iraq, chaos will ensue
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi discusses prospects for resolving the political impasse in Iraq and the threat of a new sectarian conflict.
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Allawi: We are now in April, six months from drawdown, which is not much really. It’s neither here nor there. By the time the official results are declared, we will have five months for doing the drawdown. I’m sure also the terrorists and extreme forces will try to sabotage and delay the formation of the government in Iraq, so those two reasons have to take their toll on the political forces in Iraq to really start thinking of forming a government…Skip to next paragraph
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Q: Are you willing, in the name of forming a government, to sacrifice the post of prime minister?
Allawi: If there is indeed a reason to do this, a logical reason to do this, then one would consider even leaving the country for others. But it is our right, based on our constitution and democracy, that we should spearhead the formation of the government. Now I cannot see a reason why we should be denied this… Why this objection and what about the will of the people and the vote of the people?
Q: If Maliki’s State of Law alliance tries to form the next government instead of your slate, which has the largest number of seats in parliament, what will you do?
Allawi: If they insist and they want to occupy [the government], this will bring the country into really severe chaos… Denying the rights of the people, denying the constitution, a revolution and a coup against the constitution, this will be devastating. It will throw the country wide open to violence.
Q: Some Iraqis express fears that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki could become an authoritarian ruler. Are you concerned about this?
Allawi: Of course, we are worried. That’s why we believe in democracy ; that’s why we worked with democracy; and why I personally supervised the first democratic process in this country and I myself surrendered power peacefully and immediately as soon as the new government was formed.
Q: How do you view the current prime minister?
Allawi: I see there is a concentration on his party. That his party has been the favorite in getting jobs and so on, in security and the security apparatus, the Army and the various institutions. We are people who believe that although a prime minister may be belonging to a party, he should be a prime minister for the whole country... Iraq cannot be ruled by a party. It cannot be ruled by a person. It cannot be ruled by a sect. Iraq should be based on equal partnership among its citizens.
Q: What is the tipping point for a return to a sectarian conflict?
Allawi: Once the Americans withdraw [in August], God forbid if there is no government by then, this would be a tipping point… Indeed the attacks will be expedited… This will expedite the breakdown of law and order.
Q: If there is no government in place by the end of August, do you think the Americans should reconsider their timetable for troop withdrawals?
Allawi: It’s not in the interest of Iraq or the United States to keep the Army here for good. Frankly, the presence of the American Army is not the magic solution. The American Army has now been here going into its eighth year. What we need is to get a way out of sectarianism, to have reconciliation, to have institutions and to have a strong foreign policy.