Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi warned against a "civil war that would divide Iraq." He described Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a "liar, despotic and bloody,” and predicted "a spontaneous popular uprising" that would topple Maliki. According to him, Iran "is leading the war machine against the Syrian people." He called on President Barack Obama to "correct the mistakes of his predecessor.”
In an interview with Al-Hayat, Hashemi said that "there is nothing new concerning my prosecution. I expect the authorities to issue more death sentences against me and the innocent members of my security team. I am waiting for the internationalization of my case, because human rights groups and international and European parliaments are showing a great deal of interest in my case. There is a growing sympathy with me both at home and abroad at the Arab, Islamic and international levels.”
When asked what he was going to do, he replied: "Since day one, after I gave up on the judiciary, after I was denied my legal right to refer my case to Kirkuk and Kurdistan, and after the court denied me the right to bring forth defense witnesses, I realized that there would be no room for fair litigation as stated in the constitution. Thus, I decided in March to write to international organizations, to the general secretaries of the United Nations and the Arab League, to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and to Arab leaders and kings about what is happening in Iraq. I told them that it would be in my interest for them to support me, and in Iraq's interest for them to work on correcting the bitter reality. It is true that their reaction was slow, but it will eventually yield positive results, and the recent reports and signals of the office of the United Nations in Iraq are great proof. For the first time, the report was extremely frank and bold, and criticized the human rights situation.”
Concerning the Gulf and Arab positions, he said: “Some countries, unfortunately only a few, have responded. I have not had the needed support from the majority of the countries at the moment. I am a little frustrated, and I hope that these countries will reconsider their positions and deal with the Maliki government based on the way Maliki is dealing with his people and political partners.”
He pointed out that "Maliki has become a big part of the problem, not the solution. He is not targeting his political partners alone. What is currently happening to my colleague Dr. Rafi al-Issawi (Minister of Finance) is further proof that there is a plot to exclude Sunni Arabs from the political process. The problem is that this man attacked everyone, including the Kurds, the Turkmen and even his partners in the Shiite National Alliance. This authoritarian is isolating himself, and he is indeed isolated at the national, Arab and Muslim levels.
"I think that the accumulations of injustice, corruption and mismanagement will lead to a spontaneous popular uprising carried out by millions of frustrated, oppressed, poor and unemployed people,” he added.
Asked whether he expected a clash between the central government and the Kurds, he said: "Such a clash is likely, and could occur in any province. I am not saying that this clash is likely because Maliki's decisions are personal, or taken in his role as commander in chief of the armed forces. He did not consult his political partners. The Tigris operations command and the extension of his security influence to the provinces of Diyala and Kirkuk are a preemptive strike in anticipation of any potential and spontaneous uprising against his rule, a rule that is rife with injustice, corruption and mismanagement.
“The dispute with our Kurdish brothers is not new. Ever since the constitution was written, there has been controversy relating to the interpretation of sensitive articles. This issue cannot be settled by military force, media escalation or fueled passions. This issue should have been resolved within the framework of brotherhood, common interests and a call for dialogue. It should have been resolved by inquiring at the Federal Court. However, once again this man (Maliki) demonstrated his autocratic and bloody approach to solving outstanding problems.”
Asked about the way Maliki criticized whom he called “sectarians” from both sides two days ago, he said: "This man is lying, and what was said by Muqtada al-Sadr (leader of the Sadrist movement) is a fair reply. Sadr told him a few months ago that ‘what is fueling a sectarian strife is you, Nouri al-Maliki, your policies and your way of treating Sunni Arabs’. I ask him who targeted Sunni Arab leaders? Who arrested most of the Sunni Arabs who are now in prison? Who stopped the governorates of Diyala, Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Nineveh from turning into provinces? Who expelled all Sunni Arab officers from the top positions of the ministries of defense and interior, the intelligence apparatus and the office of the commander in chief of the armed forces?
“Who deprived the governorates of the accumulated budgets, and prevented them from investing this money during the prosperous years because of the security [agencies]? Who deprived these governorates of these allocations? The answer is Maliki. In fact, he is an extremely sectarian man, but he conceals his sectarianism with tyranny. Thus, his character is shaped by tyranny and sectarianism.”
When asked if he has evidence that Maliki supports the Syrian regime, he said: “There is conclusive evidence. Maliki acknowledged in a statement weeks ago that the Iraqi government is no longer able to inspect Iranian jets [using Iraqi airspace] after the pledges he made to the Arab League and the United Nations. Since the first day he made the pledge to the U.S. administration, I have said that this man is lying and will not subject the aircraft to inspection, except for those carrying medicine and medical equipment. This happened on two occasions. He inspected a plane coming from Iran and a second one coming from Syria, after it unloaded its full cargo of militias, explosives and other weapons. He considered it a search. The media is focusing on aviation, but the main problem is land corridors. According to information I have received, there are endless means of ground transportation, from Zurbatiyah on the Iraqi-Iranian border to the Al-Waleed port. There is a stream of civilian convoys with tinted windows heading from Iran toward Syria, carrying things unknown to everyone. These convoys do not stop at checkpoints, and no one knows what they are carrying. I think that this is part of the scenario to support the Syrian regime and increase the suffering of the Syrian people, regretfully.”
He added: “This issue is not technical, but is rather sectarian and related to the [political] reference. When the reference of the officials in Maliki’s religious and sectarian regime is the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, what does this mean? When the supreme leader authorizes a follower of his, the Iraqi minister of transport, to allow such a number of convoys, can the minister who follows the supreme leader object? The issue is related to the system of governance, and is not technical or administrative dereliction.
When asked if he has evidence of Iran's involvement in the Syrian crisis, he replied: “The issue has become clear today. Isn’t the arrest of 45 Revolutionary Guard fighters [in Syria] enough evidence? They said that they came (to Syria) to visit the shrine to Sayeda Zeinab, is this not enough evidence? Today, I suspect that the war machine that is killing the Syrian people is run by Iran.”
On the position of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had announced that he will discuss the Iraqi issue in Washington, Hashemi said: “It is a clear position. The position of my dear brother Erdogan was an honorable and responsible one. He had been following my suffering before the crisis, and he knew about it when Maliki encircled my home with tanks. I believe that it is the right of Turkey, out of its keenness to stabilize Iraq, to do what it pleases to achieve that end, and to complete the next stage of change, that is, the establishment of a civilian system and government based on truth, justice and state institutions, rather than a state governed by militias, a state that does not belong to another country. This country must retain its Arab and Islamic identity, and its role in the Arab and Muslim world.
“I regret to say that the country’s domination by and subordination to Iran has deprived Iraq of its historical role in supporting its fellow Arabs and Muslims.”
He added: “I appeal to President Barack Obama and ask him – while taking into consideration that the main concerns of the U.S. administration are currently directed in particular toward addressing the economic crisis and searching for opportunities to develop health and education: “How do you address the American people? And what do you say to them? How does the U.S. administration justify the killing of 5,000 U.S. troops, and tens of thousands of wounded and disabled? How do you justify to the taxpayers at least a trillion dollars paid from their money, while Iraq is still under an authoritarian regime?
“The Iraqi people are fragmented, and Iraq is on the brink of a split, perhaps real division. There are also indications of a coming civil war between the central government and the Kurdistan region. The country is weak and unstable, its people homeless. Is this the end of the U.S. project in Iraq? Today, the U.S. administration is being accused, and the president cannot say that it was the Republican Party under President George W. Bush who committed mistakes [in Iraq]. We in Iraq do not care who is in the White House. It is the United States. On this basis, if the former president has committed mistakes in managing the Iraqi affair, is it not time that Obama rectify what his predecessor did?”
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