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.
(Page 5 of 6)
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.Skip to next paragraph
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
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.
How much of a tension is tension between the Kurdish regional government and the central government and particularly the personality conflict between Barzani and Malaki?
You think there’s a personality conflict? … We have problems there. We have real problems. No one can deny it. It comes from history, things that developed, accumulated during history, and we need patience and we need wisdom and good intentions and knowing the just and the unjust. The Kurds have some just issues – this should not be a cover to act unjustly in other issues. And the federal government, the central government has obligations, according to the constitution to solve certainly the just issues. And the two governments, the local governments and the federal governments, should have only one channel to work that and that’s the political channel. That’s why I said in your first question asking about the coalition that we have to concentrate on economics and security. If we continue working on the disputed areas, on Kirkuk, without improving the whole situation, we will only create more problems and more missed confidence and bad intentions, etc., but if we can see Iraq developing in health, education and standard of living, its agriculture, industry, less unemployed people, then those issues will be much easier to solve because the people will see and the governments would see their interests [being addressed] while when you have electricity problems, water problems, the unemployed, etc., then such historical issues will be aggravated much more than we have today.
In terms of the coming elections do you believe [religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-] Sistani will back your coalition the way he did in the previous election?
Sistani is a strategic person, he is not a tactical one. He will act as he did always.
In 2005 he threw his support behind the coalition. Will he do that again?
Well I don’t know if in 2005 he threw his support behind the coalition. He helped to form the coalition, that’s true, but he helped other people from all sides to organize themselves and all people – Sunnis, Christians, Kurds go and ask advice from Ayatollah Sistani. Ayatollah Sistani, although he is a Shiite cleric, gives national guidance, giving help to all parties – no one who asked for help from him did not get it.
There was a very wide perception, though, in asking voters in 2005 who they voted for and why, a lot of them would say, ‘Well I voted because the Ayatollah Sistani is behind this party.’ So even if he precisely didn’t come out and back it, the perception was there.