Interview: Iraqi VP Adel Abdul Mahdi
Dr. Mahdi talked to Monitor correspondent Jane Arraf about upcoming national elections, Iraq's security and economic issues, and relations with Iraq's neighbors.
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Of course we worry about Shiite Baathists and Sunni Baathists and Kurdish Baathists. There were thousands of Kurdish Baathists. Of course, that was a party that dominated Iraq, all its parts, all its institutions - it had Kurds, Shiite, Sunnis, so it’s not against Sunnis. It will be a big mistake if we have policies against Sunnis. More than that we will commit a big mistake if we consider any Baathists an enemy. That’s why in the constitution we specify ‘Saddam loyalists’ and in the constitution there is an article that having been a Baathist is not a crime. … So maybe people can go to extremes but as leadership we should continue the good line, the correct line and not to go and fight any Baathist or Sunni or Shiite or Kurds. We should fight criminals where they are Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Islamists, secularists, Baathists, whatever they are.Skip to next paragraph
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Do you think talks between Iran and the United States will change anything in Iraq?
Yes, of course, you know very well we were working on that. That is why I said in my former answer we have to deal correctly with our neighbors – the threats, the worst policies should finish. Iraq is now a democratic country internally and when you have a democratic country internally you should look for friendly relationships externally – if you have a despotic regime internally you go to aggression externally – this is the equation I think. That’s why I think having good relations or better relations – a dialogue between the United States and Iran will be very useful to Iraq – otherwise we will see interferences from all sides.
Could it lessen military interference such as the smuggling of weapons and fighters if there were better relations with the US?
Of course. Of course, I think the whole environment will be better. The same attitude with Syria with other countries. The environment will be better. No one wants to go to war if he has the channels to achieve his ambitions otherwise.
Do you think there’s a prospect of real progress in these (US-Iranian) talks?
Of course I am sure of that. At the end they will come to negotiate with each other and they will dialogue. I think they are already sending better messages than last year.
It’s a tricky time with the US withdrawal and the focus on Afghanistan. What do you think should be the proper relationship between Iraq and the United States?
We have a strategic agreement – this is a good base to work things together politically, economically, even assistance on the security issue. Once we finish with the….presence of the multinational forces…what will be left will be the strategic agreement, which is a good framework for both sides.
How much does the US need to or should they get involved in issues such as Kirkuk or the disputed territories?
We always need (friendly advice) in such issues from the United States from the United Nations and others….
What do you expect from Vice President Biden’s upcoming visit? What do you hope will be achieved?
Well to continue our discussion that we started years ago – when he was senator he used to come to Iraq much more than others – maybe he visited Iraq five or six times. He already Iraq two times [in the new administration] so he knows very well the situation in Iraq, all the complications, etc., so we will concentrate on the big issues all the ones I said in your former question how to continue, how to work together, how to have more and more better relations.