Allawi cites ‘dictatorship,’ Iranian control in Iraq (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Ben Birnbaum 03/23/12)
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Iraq’s former prime minister says the United States is ignoring
an “emerging dictatorship” in his country, telling The Washington
Times that Iran is “swallowing” Iraq and dictating its strategic
Ayad Allawi, who served as prime minister from 2004 to 2005, accused
Iran of meddling in Iraqi politics to the point that Tehran “is
becoming the dominant feature of Iraq,” and claimed that some U.S.
officials “concede secretly” that “Iran won, got the best advantage
of what happened in Iraq.”
Mr. Allawi made the comments amid political and civil upheaval in the
wake of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December. At least
52 Iraqis were killed Tuesday in bomb attacks across the country, and
Iraq’s vice president is eluding arrest on terrorist charges that are
widely seen as politically motivated.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda attacks like those Tuesday have raised questions
about Iraq’s internal security as Baghdad prepares to host a long-
delayed Arab League summit Tuesday that is expected to address the
threat of a civil war in Syria and messy transitions in Egypt, Libya
“To be honest, people speak about Arab Spring,” Mr. Allawi
said. “What spring is this?
“Spring is associated with green, renewal of life. We are having
blood pouring everywhere in the region and destruction and
dismemberment of countries, and chaos is happening.”
Mr. Allawi headed the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc in Iraq’s 2010
elections. The bloc won two more seats than Nouri al-Maliki’s State
of Law alliance, but Mr. al-Maliki was able to form a government
under a 2011 power-sharing deal.
That deal, which gave several ministries to Iraqiya, was supposed to
have given Mr. Allawi control of a new strategic policy council, but
the former premier declined the post when Mr. al-Maliki refused to
cede it much authority despite what he called U.S. guarantees.
“The policymakers promised to support this, but ultimately and
unfortunately, none of this has happened, and the United States
forgot about this power-sharing completely,” Mr. Allawi said. “I
think the United States deliberately is taking Iraq out of the screen
because there is a gross failure in Iraq.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We strongly
disagree with [Mr. Allawi‘s] characterization of our relationship
with the government of Iraq and the role we have played to keep the
Iraqi political process on track.”
Ms. Nuland said the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad continues to work as
a “broker” in Iraq’s political realm and the U.S. remains committed
to helping create a “unified, peaceful and democratic Iraq.”
The day after U.S. troops left Iraq, judicial authorities there
issued an arrest warrant for another Iraqiya leader, Vice President
Tariq al-Hashemi, on charges that he ran anti-Shiite death squads
during the bloodletting that followed the U.S.-led 2003 invasion. Mr.
al-Hashemi, who denies the charges, has taken refuge in the Kurdish-
Mr. Allawi said he is consulting with other power players, including
radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, about next steps.
He suggested three ways out of the political crisis: early
elections, “full-blown partnership” or replacement of Mr. al-Maliki
with another premier from the ruling National Alliance. If none of
this occurs, he said, he would encourage countrywide “peaceful
demonstrations” against the government.
Mr. al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government has long been accused of
tilting toward its powerful neighbor, Iran - the object of Western
sanctions over its secretive nuclear program, which Iranian officials
deny is geared for making a weapon.
Mr. Allawi assailed Iran’s meddling in Iraqi politics, saying the
Islamic republic has begun “swallowing Iraq and is becoming the
dominant feature of Iraq.” He said some American officials “concede
secretly” that “Iran won, got the best advantage of what happened in
He also said a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities should
be “abolished as an idea” because it would cause regional
instability. But he added that Iran’s regime “needs to either change
its behavior completely, significantly, radically, or the regime
needs to be changed.”
Mr. Allawi said he hopes dialogue with Iran could persuade its
leaders to take a new course.
“If they don’t, then it is important to support the opposition inside
Iran - to support them politically, to support them with their media,
to support them in any possible way, to give them acknowledgment, to
give them political assurances, to give them political support in
international forums,” he said.
He said that approach would mirror the one he recommended to U.S.
policymakers in the run-up to the Iraq War.
“Unfortunately, there were policymakers who were saying that the
solution is removal of Saddam [Hussein] by force and immediately
pushing a button and creating democracy in the country,” Mr. Allawi
said. “And we have seen now, it’s the 10th year, and we don’t have
democracy. In fact, we have an emerging dictatorship.”
Mr. Allawi demurred when asked whether he would head Iraqiya in the
next elections, tentatively slated for 2014. “I don’t know; it
depends,” he said. “Maybe I’ll be arrested by the government or
killed or assassinated.” (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 03/23/12)
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