Al-Maliki in BBC Interview: No need for US Combat Troops after Election, Would require renegotiating SOFA

The public affairs office of the US Embassy in London put out this Spot Report via its Media Outreach Center -London Hub March 2, 2010. The interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, now campaigning for his political survival, challenges the assertion of US military commander Ray Odierno that US combat troops could or would remain in iraq past the deadlines set in the Status of Forces Agreement. Odierno’s assertion produced outrage in Iraq, according to Raed Jarrar.

BBC Arabic TV interview with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki

BBC Arabic broadcast a 15-minute edited on-camera interview with Nouri al-Maliki at 9.45g. The main points he made were:

Relations with Kurds over Kirkuk

[Al-Maliki:] We have no alliance with the Kurds; Kirkuk is important to us as well as the Kurds; we agree on legal settlement on Kirkuk based on constitution.

Would you enter alliance with Iyad Allawi?

[Al-Maliki:] That would be difficult, because of differences in history, directions, etc.

Why did you object to Allawi’s visits to other Arab countries?

[Al-Maliki:] Iraqis are sensitive about foreign interference in their political system

On Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia

[Al-Maliki:] Against idea of visiting any country with the purpose of winning support for becoming prime minister of Iraq

Relations with Saudi Arabia

[Al-Maliki:] I made one visit to Saudi Arabia for purpose of good relations, as with any other neighbor; I didn’t ask for any other meeting with Saudi official; we want good relations, but if they want to maintain this estrangement it’s up to them.

[U.S. Ambassador Christopher] Hill’s warning of possible political chaos after elections

[Al-Maliki:] That’s a wrong reading; Iraq will be stable after the elections; those raising quarrels and spreading lies are doing so for future political advantage;

Hill’s accusation that Iran playing “hateful” role in Iraq

[Al-Maliki:] They are his words; “hateful” is a big word; maybe they are interfering as Arab countries do; someone who is hateful is only intent on destroying – Iran not only intent on destruction; we seek open friendship, not political or military interference.

Accountability and Justice Commission working to Iranian agenda?

[Al-Maliki:] That’s an American view; symptom of US-Iran quarrel which we do not want to see played out in Iraq; I explained to VP Biden and Amb Hill that it was the AJC that was responsible for deciding on the election candidates, not the committee controlled by Ahmed Chalabi.

On decision to reintegrate 20,000 officers from Saddam’s army

[Al-Maliki:] Part of national reconciliation to integrate them; not Ba’athists; this had nothing to do with election campaign; matter been considered for last three years;

Odierno’s warning of security problems meaning US troops might stay on

[Al-Maliki:] That’s his view; but we think the Iraqi security infrastructure is effective even without US help; they said Basra operation (against militias [in spring of 2008]) would take us six months – we did it in nine days.

Defence minister said he wanted US troops to stay till 2020

[Al-Maliki:] I think it’s unlikely he really said that; any such change would need a new security agreement that would need to be vote on by parliament.

Reaction to Ahmadinejad’s call in Syria for Iraq to be a third regional ally

[Al-Maliki:] We welcome close relations with Iran as we do with Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey.. but not on the basis of alliances or treaties; in the past these led the region into confrontations between axes.

Foreign funding of political parties

[Al-Maliki:] Parties funded from abroad, which is a problem; it’s because parliament has not yet passed law we tabled on political parties; our State of Law party is not funded from abroad; has an account in the Rafidayn Bank that citizens can contribute to; so far it contains about eight million (dinars?)

Your greatest achievement?

[Al-Maliki:] Security; other achievements in education, jobs etc would not have been possible without security.

End/ (Not Continued)