For almost two months, Iraq has witnessed demonstrations demanding the release of detainees, calling for the abolition of the Anti-Terrorism Law and protesting against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, which has been accused of adopting a sectarian policy of governance, holding thousands of detainees in prisons, and economic and financial corruption.
Amid continued demonstrations, Iyad al-Samarrai, secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, sat for an interview with Azzaman, during which he shared his point of view on current developments.
Azzaman: Do you expect the current uprising against Maliki to result in the overthrow of the government, just as the Arab revolutions led to overthrowing dictatorial governments?
Samarrai: Historical experiences have taught us that this form of popular movements must achieve something and does not cease or back down without results.
The people have proven themselves to be extremely aware. This is why they have not demanded Maliki’s departure, although some wanted that. They instead maintained a position that is not directed against a person as much as it is about the injustice to which these masses are being exposed and are demanding that it be eliminated.
Some politicians may take advantage of this movement politically in order to change Maliki. In the world of politics, it is well known that politicians try to change the course of events for their own benefit. Maliki is doing the same thing by distorting the image of this uprising in order to increase his popularity among supporters.
In conclusion, the masses may propose the idea of changing Maliki, but after they succeed in conveying a clear image of their cause and raise awareness about the injustice to which they have been subjected, then they will see that many politicians will work for their cause.
Maliki just might succeed in bringing about real changes that appease the masses, which would in turn lead to an understanding if they become convinced that there is truly a new phase. This does not, however, appear to be on the horizon at the moment.
Azzaman: How will this uprising affect the political process? Do you expect an early election?
Samarrai: I think it will help to determine the direction of voters and create electoral awareness in favor of those who have principled positions. As for the date for holding the elections, I do not see any negative indication in this regard. Elections have been held previously under worse circumstances. There are obstacles to holding early elections in the absence of an agreement between the political forces.
Azzaman: Are you coordinating with other political blocs to topple the government?
Samarrai: For us, changing the government is not a goal but rather a means, among other means, to address the situation in Iraq. But yes, there are other forces that believe that the only way to achieve our goals is to overthrow the current government.
We believe that there are no serious attempts to change the government or at real reform, and that the direction of the leadership and our wishes are not sufficient alone unless they are coupled with work programs aimed at reform or change.
Azzaman: Given the poor conditions suffered by Iraqi detainees in Iraq’s prisons, do you intend to raise the issue with international organizations to prosecute the government for the crimes that have been committed?
Samarrai: We believe that this would be required if an internal effort has not been made to address the injustices suffered by the community.
Azzaman: What is the nature of the support provided by the Iranian regime and its militias to the sectarian government?
Samarrai: Sources close to Iran say that Iranian support for Maliki is strong and limitless, and ask politicians to deal with the reality of Maliki’s presence as prime minister.
Azzaman: There have been reports that the Iranian regime has transferred arms to support the Syrian regime through Iraq, despite denials by Iraq. Is there any truth to this cooperation?
Samarrai: Yes, the media are talking about it, and Iran does not hide its support for the Syrian regime. However, I cannot give a firm opinion as to Iraq’s exact role since I lack conclusive information in this regard.
Azzaman: What is your current vision regarding [the relationship] between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government?
Samarrai: The solution is to adhere to the constitution and work to address legislative shortcomings through completing the laws as mentioned in the constitution. Today, serious violations of the constitution and disruption of legislation are taking place in parliament through the political blocs.
Azzaman: How do you explain the return of bombings in some Iraqi cities, and who stands behind these incidents?
Samarrai: There has been no improvement during the last three years in this regard. This leads us to one of two conclusions: the failure of the political and military leaderships, which should accept to be held accountable and implement proposed solutions, or that some senior leaders do not want to conclusively resolve terrorism because they have a political interest in the continuation of a certain level of terrorist operations.
Azzaman: Do you expect the outbreak of a civil war if the current situation continues as is?
Samarrai: It depends largely on how the prime minister acts. He will bear the responsibility for any violence, as the masses have shown their peaceful direction and approach.
Azzaman: What is your response to the comments by presidential adviser Ali al-Moussawi in Cairo when he stated that the amnesty law should be passed by parliament in order to be binding for the government to implement, and that the Anti-terrorism, Equality and Justice Law cannot be manipulated because it should first be amended by parliament?
Samarrai: This is a fallacy — the prime minister is a major player and the candidate of the largest parliamentary bloc. If he approves [the law], he would instruct his bloc to approve it as well.
Azzaman: In the end, what are your demands from the Arab countries and the Arab League regarding what is happening in Iraq?
Samarrai: We believe that there are two main demands: recognizing the injustice being done to the Iraqis, and activating international pressure to eliminate this injustice. The Arab countries are invited to do so quickly.