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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I think they have to solve it in the parliament. It is still closed according to the old law. But before the Eid [the Moslem feast at the end of Ramadan], maybe directly after the Eid, the parliament has to vote on that.Skip to next paragraph
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The cabinet has recommended that it be an open list. Does that mean it will have a good chance in parliament?
We are in favor of the open list, although closed lists are more beneficial to the big parties, but we are in very much in favor of the open list because it opens more chances [so that] individuals and electors can choose better the people they know….
Among the distractions has been the robbery with your guards. To many people, that was shocking. I’m sure it was shocking to you as well. How should we view that?
The robbery is a robbery – it is a crime committed – we lost eight police in that - the money is returned but you can’t return back the lives of those people, so it is a huge crime. We were the ones who discovered everything. We never received information from any other institution in the country. We were the ones who discovered the criminal in our brigade – this captain, which led to de-masking the whole gang of the robbery. We detained some of them, the ministry of interior detained others, and some others fled and we are after them. It was politicized – it should have been treated as a crime and our role should have been appreciated but some people wanted to use this for political reasons – so we did the job. There are always infiltrations in any institution in the world – even much higher than a captain…we did our job correctly and we have been appraised by the judicial system, by the ministry of interior, ministry of defense all the officials there were appraising our role but some people used this for political reasons.
The Americans see these elections as perhaps the test of whether Iraq holds together or falls apart. Is it that?
Well I think Iraq holds together. Iraq holds together and there is a huge big momentum in Iraq – without which those obstacles, especially in the security issue, political issue, economic issue, wouldn’t go forward. So we have to see the real momentum in Iraq, which is really tremendous. It’s like a genie imprisoned in his small bottle – Iraq is really like a volcano of momentum here, and more and more people are joining the political process with all the difficulties that we have, and this is amazing. Look at all the offers of the oil enterprises in the first round, in the first bidding round – what they offered is [to produce] eight million barrels a day within six years. This is tremendous. This will bring Iraq close to Saudi Arabia.
Except at a price that Iraq wouldn’t accept?
Even with price of the enterprises I am taking this as an example of the potential of the situation. … The capacity of producing eight million barrels a day from six fields only without considering the other fields will be eight million barrels - not according to Iraqi estimations but to enterprises who know exactly what they are doing and they are being cautious about that so by that Iraq would be near Saudi Arabia. Of course the price could be negotiated, etc., but I am taking this as an example of the potential of Iraq, and if this is true on the oil sector, it is true also in other sectors.
We see even in Gulf states they do not have the resources of Iraq. Now we are importing [bottled] water from Saudi Arabia, which doesn’t have any rivers. So Iraq has a lot of potential. Everyone understands that, and politically Iraq is very energetic. People are coming out from decades of dictatorship, and although we have now somehow the liberties that we have, we don’t always use it correctly. But it’s freedom, it’s liberty, and … it’s much better than despotism, than any kind of oppression.