Iraq's fugitive VP submits resignation, condemns Maliki

Article Summary
In an interview with Al-Hayat, fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi reveals he has submitted his resignation to President Jalal Talabani, and condemns Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s domestic and regional policies.

Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi confirmed he sent his resignation to President Jalal Talabani on Dec. 31. He further condemned the “bloody” measures taken by the government against the people, “especially Sunni Arabs.” He urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to reconsider their reading of the situation in Iraq, and said in a Dec. 31 interview with Al-Hayat in Doha that he “gave the countries of the region information on plans to hit their security and stability.”

Hashemi urged the United States not to arm the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which he said “used arms to kill people.” He called on President Barack Obama to “complete the US task started in Iraq because it was not completed,” and demanded an “end to Iranian predominance and influence in Iraq.” He stressed the need to “peacefully overthrow Maliki.”

Asked about his resignation, Hashemi, against whom six death sentences were issued and who is wanted by Interpol, said, “I am elected by the House of Representatives, and a presidential decree was issued to appoint me. Until this very moment, no decree has been issued to appoint someone else, and the president did not ask to dismiss me. Therefore, my status is still legal. It is true that I do not exercise my functions, but I still have ties and relationships with countries across the world by virtue of my position.”

“It is time to resign after the bloody measures carried out by Maliki, the arrest of the courageous MP Ahmad al-Alwani and the use of excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrators. We have to show a sign of solidarity with our people in Anbar. This is why I found that there was no reason to keep my post anymore. I will officially submit my resignation today [Dec. 31],” he added.

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Asked to whom he will send the resignation and how, he said, “I will send it today through official channels to the Office of the Presidency of the Republic.” He confirmed, “My resignation will certainly be irrevocable, for I have been thinking about it for a long time, but I wanted to wait for the right time to submit it. There are two issues that prompted me to resign now. The first is my rejection of the policies of Maliki, and the second is the unjustified use of military force in Anbar to deal with peaceful protesters asking for legitimate and constitutional demands. Why was military force used?”

“There is no more reason for me to stay in power as long as Maliki controls the political process and marginalizes all of his political partners. He has become the ruling governor who has to be obeyed. No [other] government position is important anymore.”

Asked what his next step will be after his resignation, he replied, “The main issue today is the issue of my country and the cause of change. I will use all my energy, capabilities and public relationships to accelerate the process of change toward building a state of citizenship, a civil state and a state of institutions and justice. Being liberated from this position gives me additional margin to take steps with countries around the world. I will take these steps on a personal level, not in the capacity of my previous position.”

“We are facing a problem now. Iraq is no longer headed toward a civil state but rather to a religious, sectarian and partisan state. The main obstacle facing us today is the Maliki government and Iran’s unprecedented influence. Nevertheless, I think there are a lot of opposition voices within the Shiite alliance, within the liberal trend and in the Islamic movement. There are a lot of national elements who can be up to the challenge, and thus, all chances to bring about change [to overthrow Maliki] peacefully without resorting to violence are present, but this national trend needs Arab and international support.”

On whose support he will ask for, he said, “I will ask support from countries that are suffering because of the Maliki government security-wise, and because of this unprecedented Iranian influence. I will ask support from GCC countries, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which, to maintain their internal security, preserve their sovereignty and prevent interference in their internal affairs, could reconsider their relationship with the Maliki government and their perception of the Iraqi scene. Therefore, there is a need for a new approach that works on reshuffling the cards in the Iraqi domestic arena, not for the sake, stability and sovereignty of the people, but to maintain GCC security and sovereignty.”

Hashemi said he “warned about this issue years ago and provided complete information to states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf states, according to which the government of Maliki and the intelligence agencies are working in coordination with Iran to attract Shiite youths into these countries with the aim of training and preparing them to carry out acts of sabotage and undermine security and stability in these Gulf countries. I immediately revealed all of this information. I even provided names and dates and numbers of passports about these issues.

“I’m afraid, however, that the reaction was sad and miserable and did not live up to the threat that is confirmed now. This threat is that Maliki is actually working seriously against the security of the Gulf states and taking advantage of the negligence on the part of the Gulf and Arab states, which have failed to deal with the Iraqi scene the way it deserved to be treated. This audacity was revealed yesterday, in the ship carrying arms to the opposition in Bahrain. What does this mean? It's a security chaos left by the Maliki government and an unprecedented encroachment upon GCC countries. This would not have happened had the Arab Gulf states accepted our initiative, listened to our advice earlier and taken measures and actions that could have stopped the transformation of Iraq into a burden on Arab security after it had been a supporter of Arab national security.”

“I am ready, and I consider myself part of an extension of my family in the Gulf. The people of Iraq are part of the Gulf system. Therefore, we, tribes and families, extend to the Gulf, and I'm ready for any kind of advice and exchange of opinion,” Hashemi continued.

He called on Obama “not to close the issue of Iraq and say that his interests are only geared toward the US homeland and to matters pertaining to health and education.” He added, “I say that the mission is not complete unless the US goal of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was only aimed at creating the current chaos and delivering my country’s reins to Iran, which historically holds a grudge against Iraq and its people. I tell Obama, quite frankly: ‘You need to complete the mission that was mistakenly started by your predecessor George W. Bush. If there are errors, if the US agenda was not to destroy Iraq and hand it over to Iran, and if the plan did not include this bad goal detrimental to the sovereignty of my country, then it's time for you to reform the situation in Iraq and correct all the errors committed by the previous administration.’”

“Iraqis do not care who rules in the White House. We do not care whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican. What concerns us is that, rightly or wrongly, the United States made a decision in 2003 to invade Iraq, which paid dearly for this. All I want from the United States and the international community in particular is to reconsider their stances toward what is happening in Iraq.

“First, we want the unprecedented Iranian predominance and influence in Iraq to come to a halt. Second, we want the United States to fulfill the commitments it made to the Iraqi people in 2003, when it announced that it would invade Iraq to rid it of dictatorship and build the state of institutions and justice, that is, a civil state. This promise is far from what the pro-Iran government of Maliki is. [The government] has relied on sectarianism to eradicate Sunni Arabs. The second important aspect is the call to stop the armament of the Maliki government. President Obama, who is well informed about the security issues that are concerning the public opinion inside and outside Iraq, should not be convinced with the lies told about the necessity of tackling the security challenge through further military interventions. I say what is needed is more wisdom and not more force.”

In this regard, Hashemi noted, “Maliki considers Sunni Arabs as terrorists. On this basis, arms would be used to kill Iraqi people, notably Sunni Arabs. I address this message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. I tell him, ‘Beware of providing the Maliki government with heavy arms because it will be used to kill the Iraqi people.’”

When asked about the stances of Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr concerning what is happening in Iraq, and whether or not he and Sadr are in contact, Hashemi said, “I appreciate his statements; they express an objective analysis on the approach of Maliki. The latter is trying to present himself as though he is the savior of Shiites, and subsequently he is targeting and killing Sunnis to win the votes of Shiites. This game was uncovered by Sadr. I know that my people are made up of a variety of ethnicities, religions, nationalities and sects. Therefore, a civil state is the only model that works.”

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Found in: tariq al-hashemi, nouri al-maliki, muqtada al-sadr, iraqi domestic politics, iraq, iran’s regional influence, barack obama
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