Iraqi Vice President Shiite United

Iraqi Vice President: Shiite United Iraqi Alliance has not Broken Up: al-Hayat

BBC World Monitoring presents a translation of an interview in al-Hayat with Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq who tilts toward free-market secularism. He denied that the Shiite coalition cobbled together by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the United Iraqi Alliance, has broken up. (But it is worth noting that the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq have registered to contest the December 15 parliamentary elections under their own rubrics.) Excerpts:

October 6, 2005, Thursday

HEADLINE: Iraqi vice-president denies ruling coalition break-up, says constitution “closed”

SOURCE: Al-Hayat, London, in Arabic 4 Oct 05 . . .

“Some Kurdish objections” to premier “are correct”

[Tu’mah] What is the truth about the disagreement between the government and the Kurdistan Alliance? Is it true that the Kurds have offered to support you in taking over as prime minister instead of [Ibrahim] Al-Ja’fari?

[Abd-al-Mahdi] We will not accept such a role. Two voting events are due soon. In the next 10 weeks two important events will take place: the referendum on the constitution and general elections. Regardless of the arguments put forward by the Kurdistan Alliance about government negligence, we believe there is no interest or importance in confusing the political situation at the present time by carrying out a government reshuffle. There have been attempts to bring about a government change but we did not agree to them.

[Tu’mah] What is the truth about the accusations levelled by the Kurdish list against Al-Ja’fari in the memorandum published by Al-Hayat a few days ago?

[Abd-al-Wahid] Some Kurdish objections are correct but they are not directed at Al-Ja’fari but at the performance of the government itself. The United Iraqi Alliance itself criticizes some of the government’s performance. Political issues must not be turned into personal issues. If some political blocs or citizens should make some demands then the officials, be it the government, ministers or the presidency, must respond and clarify.

Constitution is “closed” issue

[Tu’mah] US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has proposed amendments to the constitution to ensure the participation of the Sunni Arabs in the referendum in favour of the draft. What is your view?

[Abd-al-Wahid] The constitution has been closed and there is no room to introduce amendments. However, additions clarifying the text or reassuring some quarters have been accepted in the past and may be accepted now, as was the case with Article 3 when a clause on the Arab League and commitment to its charter was added, and with the matters that were added regarding water. However, such additions must not be amendments. The constitution in its final form has been closed.

United Iraqi Alliance has not broken up

[Tu’mah] There are those who say that the United Iraqi Alliance has broken up and that some of its parties have entered into alliances with other forces. Where is SCIRI’s ship anchored?

[Abd-al-Mahdi] We must wait for 21 October 2005 to know the final decision on alliances and coalitions. Three hot weeks await the political forces. We do not know what alliances they will forge prior to the elections. We also cannot speculate on the alliances that will be forged after the elections.

The United Iraqi Alliance has not broken up. Daily meetings are held among all the coalition parties to agree on the most appropriate formula for the coming stage: whether to have one list or several lists with a contract that brings them together after the elections. As for SCIRI, its ship is sailing with the public interest and wherever that interest can be achieved SCIRI will be there.

Security: Zarqawi, “remnants of former regime”, “foreign quarters”

[Tu’mah] How do you see the security challenges facing Iraq, and is [Abu-Mus’ab] Al-Zarqawi fact or fiction?

[Abd-al-Mahdi] Al-Zarqawi is not a myth. He is real. This man is wanted first of all by the Jordanian government. He issues statements. He has a known history and his name was used. He is real, and the actions he commits are not fiction: the killings, death and explosions. The security challenge is really great since it has ramifications and complications, foremost among which are the remnants of the former regime who form the basic infrastructure of terror and sabotage, in an attempt to put the clock back and stop the political process by resorting to the methods of the former authorities, terrorizing people and holding them hostage.

This coupled with the wide-scale entry of foreign quarters into Iraq. The previous stage has paved the way for such an entry through the presence of foreign forces and the occupation, which was a big mistake, for that has encouraged those groups and provided them with a cover to operate.

There are other matters that could be the cause of continuing violence, such as unemployment, poverty, the prolonged blockade, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the absence of a political process, in addition to the policies of competing regional countries that have their own agendas with regard to Iraq: some of them have a particular stand towards the United States while others have a particular stand on the sectarian and confessional issue in Iraq . . . ‘

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