Pan Arab Talk Shows on Iraq: OSC

Here are the Iraq-related conversations in the USG Open Source Center roundup of Pan-Arab satellite talk shows for the past week. For the non-Iraq portions, see our Global Affairs group blog.

Weekly Roundup of Pan-Arab TVs Talk Shows 5-11 Aug Corrected version; replacing text; changing Subject Qatar — OSC Summary Thursday, August 16, 2007

At 1430 GMT on 5 August Al-Jazirah carries a new episode of its weekly talk show “The Iraqi Scene” moderated by Abd-al-Azim Muhammad.

Today’s episode hosts Dr Rafi al-Isawi, resigned minister of state for foreign affairs and a leadership figure in the Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front. Al-Isawi starts by saying that the front chose to withdraw from the government when it felt that the key national goals outlined in the government’s policy statement were being ignored, and says that the 11 issues it demanded be addressed by the government are not conditions for its return, but are national demands, and explains that the one-week ultimatum to the government seeks to test its willingness to cooperate. He denies accusations to his front of blackmailing the government, and accuses the government spokesmen of twisting the front’s words. Al-Isawi adds that the front is still active in parliament, and maintains that the dispute is not with the prime minister, noting the front is not concerned with the government’s threats to appoint ministers in place of the resigned ones, but is concerned with the policy statement’s implementation

At 1907 GMT on 6 August Al-Jazirah carries a new episode of its weekly program “From Washington” presented Abd-al-Rahim Fuqara. The program hosts Richard Armitage, former US deputy secretary of state.

Asked about his remarks in which he expressed desire to return to power in the future, Armitage says: “I have never accepted or declined a job which has been offered, but I would like to come back under a moderate republican administration. I believe that serving the government is very honorable. I spent more that 20 years in the government and would like to continue to do that. ”

Asked whether he believes that the current administration is moderate enough, Armitage says: “I do not think that anybody would accuse this administration of being moderate. But I believe that most people in my country are moderate and desire to return to what might be called the middle of the road.” Asked about his major criticism of the current administration, Armitage says that while he was working for the US Administration he felt that there was no accountability, and that people followed the president’s instructions whether they wanted that or not.

Armitage goes on to say that vision is important, but implementation and follow-up are also important

Asked about the major failure of the current administration in his opinion, Armitage says that “it is quite clear that there are two related issues. One is related to the war in Afghanistan and the other is related to the war in Iraq. He adds: “We went to Iraq without enough forces.”

Asked about whom he blames for the “failure” in Iraq, Armitage says: “I think that we all have to be responsible. I, in the Department of State, and officials in the intelligence were wrong concerning the weapons of mass destruction. Much of the blame falls on everybody when it comes to accountability. I do not think that anybody of us should avoid being held accountable.”

Asked whether he believed that the “invasion” of Iraq was right, Armitage says: “Yes. I supported the invasion of Iraq, but I questioned the timing. I wanted to go after the 2004 elections, but Powell had reservations regarding the number of the forces. We went to Iraq with a very small number of forces.” . . .

At 1630 GMT on 10 August Al-Arabiyah carries a new episode of its weekly program “From Iraq” presented by Suhayr al-Qaysi.

The program hosts from London Dr Khalid al-Atiyah, deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament and member of the Unified Iraqi Coalition (UIC); and from Baghdad Dr Salim Abdallah al-Juburi, member of the Iraqi Parliament and spokesman for Al-Tawafuq (Accord) Front, to comment on the Al-Tawafuq Front’s withdrawal from the government. Asked whether Al-Maliki’s government has collapsed and whether things have reached the point of no return regarding national reconciliation, Al-Atiyah says: “Definitely, the answer is no, because this government represents the various political blocs and the various components of the Iraqi people.” He adds that this government is a national unity government. He goes on to say that some political parties and blocs have announced their demands and tried to embarrass the government at this timing through putting it under pressure.

Al-Atiyah adds that the government announced that it is willing to hold dialogue, that the doors to “calm talks” are open, and that demands can be considered. He adds that the only option for the Iraqi people, the Iraqi Government, and the parliament is to continue the political process and calm discussions.

For his part, Al-Juburi says that many people want to simplify the problem to give hope that there is a solution to the problem. He adds: “To be realistic, there is a real crisis that the government might be the main reason behind” because it acted unilaterally and resorted to oppression.

Commenting on accusations that Al-Tawafuq Front is trying to abort Al-Maliki’s government, Al-Juburi says that Al-Tawafuq Front does not want to abort the government, saying that it could have refused to participate in the government in the first place. He adds that “the atmosphere is not suitable for a political partnership.”

Al-Arabiyah at 2010 GMT on 10 August carries a new episode of its weekly program “Frankly Speaking” presented by Elie Nakuzi. The program hosts, Kurdistan Region President Mas’ud Barzani.

Asked how he evaluates his experience and whether the Kurdish people attained what they want, Barzani says that Kurds so far have not obtained their full rights. He goes on to say that the Kurdish issue witnessed progress over the past years, adding that the Kurdish state should be established one day through dialogue and understanding, and not through violence. Barzani goes on to say that the Kurdish people have never wanted to pick a quarrel with anybody, but they will defend themselves if they come under attack.

Asked about claims that Arab Iraqis are treated as guests when they come to the Kurdistan region, Barzani says that the Kurdistan region has always been a refuge for everybody. He goes on to say that due to the spread of extremism everywhere, and especially in Iraq, the security authorities sometimes have to verify the identities of those who enter Kurdistan.

Asked about Iranian involvement in Iraq, Barzani says that the Kurds have no evidence of any Iranian involvement in Kurdistan.

Asked whether Shiites in Iraq are more loyal to Iran than to Iraq, Barzani says that this is not true. Asked about federalism and how it is going to affect Sunnis, Barzani says that any forced union is doomed to fail, adding that Iraqis have to agree on participation, as no group can rule Iraq unilaterally.

Asked about possible regional alliances that have been formed against Kurds, Barzani says that if Kurds are not allowed to live in peace and stability, they will not let others live in peace and stability.

Barzani answers questions on the execution of Saddam Husayn; objections to tribalism in the Kurdistan region; and fears that Kurds in Turkey and Syria might call for having their “Kurdistan regions” in these countries.

. . . Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic, independent television station financed by the Qatari Government; and Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic, independent television station financed by Arab businessmen, were observed between 5 August and 11 August to carry several talk shows that deal with a number of regional issues, including the latest political developments in Iraq, the political scene in Lebanon, the municipal elections in Jordan, and several other issues.