Iraqi parliamentary speaker Dr. Salim al-Jabouri said in a special interview with Egypt Today during his short visit to Egypt that the preparations for the parliamentary elections, which start on May 12, are in full swing amid opportunities for all sects and political players.
He pointed out that he supports the establishment of a state that respects the law, people and institutions, based on the idea of protecting the state and the basis for the building of a state of existence. The following is the interview:
We begin with the Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait. Have the States participating in the Conference fulfilled their obligations?
The Conference for the reconstruction of Iraq was initiated by a generous initiative of the State of Kuwait, which played a role in moving things. A number of countries have been in solidarity with Iraq to support the areas affected by terrorism. We appreciate and value this and respect the States that have participated in general.
Some of the aid provided at the conference was sovereign and non-sovereign loans, including a number of grants. Companies have volunteered to start their work. We expect these states to take actions to achieve the objective of the project, which is the reconstruction of Iraq.
Why did you decide to run for the Baghdad circle, leaving the candidacy of Diyala? Isn’t this a risk to your political history?
First, there are a number of national dignitaries present in Diyala and we support them. They also work within the framework of the project. In Baghdad, as long as I am the speaker of parliament, I have to go through the experiment in the capital, which is a competition between the poles of the political process. The capital is more effective, and there are young people and energies that believe in the ideas and directions that I put forward.
You talk about a project you believe in and support … What is it?
First, to build a state on the right foundations and go beyond and leave all the mistakes that have made the Iraqi society tangle on sectarian bases. We are moving towards the establishment of a state that respects the law and human institutions, so we set out from this sense. On his “national” list, Dr. Iyad Allawi launched the idea of a strong state, as it was from the idea of protecting and launching the state as a basis for establishing its existence and consideration.
Do you think that Iraq is qualified for this in light of some sectarian conflicts in the media discourse?
Iraq remains eligible, which is expected considering the competition that exists in the context of some attempts to get people’s sympathy for their sectarian and other considerations. However, they are wrong because they may have succeeded in getting some votes, but in institution-building and the state they have not been successful.
Sunnis rely on you greatly in Iraq … Were you fair to them?
I will not let them down, as I will not let the Iraqis in general down because they had priorities. The problems they suffered during the past period under extremism, terrorism and displacement, but we contributed greatly to the return of families in coordination with the decision makers. I had the role and impact in the presence of the Arab community and the Arab countries in their adoption of the Iraqi reality, which is important. We have created important legal legislations, foremost of which is the amnesty law and those carrying arms outside the framework of the state have been put in their right place. Everything has been clearly coordinated; we are not talking about a grant component that is already given in the interest of all Iraqis.
But the Sunni component of the camps complains that they may not be able to vote in the elections?
I was in contact with the Commission to open the centers and overcome all the difficulties that are preventing everyone from being able to vote.
What is the most important file that you discussed with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during your visit to Egypt?
Iraq has taken a decision to open up to Arab countries, especially Egypt, and looks at Saudi Arabia and other countries positively. This will not change the reality, whatever the composition of the government or the form of parliament and who is in charge because this is a sovereign decision. I discussed with President Sisi economic development, investment contribution and Iraqi students studying in Egypt and they are around 16,000 students. I have discussed the joint Arab coordination in many of the files. We are approaching the Arab Summit Conference and an upcoming Conference of the Union of Arab Parliaments. All of this makes Egypt and Iraq two important poles and must therefore coordinate positions among them.
What is Iraq’s position on Syria’s return to the Arab League?
Iraq has not made itself part of the conflict and wishes to participate and remove all the obstacles that prevent it. It always initiates and does not watch. We hope that the Arab differences would be resolved in the direction that serves the interest of the people.
Iraq is one of the countries that have suffered from sectarian polarization. What do you think about the calls that arise for a Sunni or Shiite region in the area?
Egypt has a position on this aspect out of its desire for the unity, security and stability of Iraq. We respect the Constitution and do not feel that the division of Iraq is the solution and the way out of the crisis.
Do you think that linking religion to politics has affected the Iraqi state?
The conviction that we are moving towards building a state that respects the Constitution, the law and the human being, we do not deny that each party has its own ideas, orientations and beliefs. Ways to exercise it in any way.
Our past experience has been harsh and the constants of the state and the religious foundations that the Constitution stipulates have been compromised. In my conviction we are moving towards building a state that respects the Constitution, the law and the human being. We do not deny that each party has its own ideas, attitudes and beliefs that we respect. The state also provides the means to practice them in any way.
What is the truth regarding a muffled conflict on the position of Prime Minister? Is there a hidden conflict between Maliki and Abadi?
What ultimately governs the result is composition of the largest bloc from which the prime minister is chosen, and the constitution points to this meaning. There is pre-election coordination that will result in the most powerful post-electoral bloc.
Dr. Ayad Allawi, who heads the National list, has regional acceptance. What is your vision for winning the confidence of Iraqis?
We value every effort made by Haider al-Abbadi even if it is at the expense of the electoral interest, but the interest of the country is more important. Nevertheless, there is a direction towards the national list and Dr. Iyad Allawi in this framework. He is consistent and puts aside his directions from partisan and sectarian interest. Our orientations are based on coordination with all blocs to build a genuine partnership that must not be missed in the coming period. On this basis it is decided whether or not to participate following the crystallization of the prime minister and the composition of the government.
Is the National Alliance competing for the Prime Minister position of Iraq?
We are not talking about competition for positions. We are talking first about building a joint venture and we presented this project and understandings with other political parties.
What is your assessment of Iraqi-Gulf relations?
The relations with the Gulf countries are positive and we have developed our relation with Saudi Arabia. We have established a joint coordination council, as well as, with some Arab countries that have opened the horizons for cooperation and exchange of ambassadors. We do not want to boycott anyone because our Iraqi circumstance makes us not bleed our forces in conflicts, we want development and reconstruction. Enough for the Iraqi citizen, who paid the price of the political conflict.
The limitation of arms by the state is a great challenge for the Iraqi State. Why do we see some battalions sticking to their weapons outside the country?
This is a transitional issue and we are keen to those who carry weapons outside the state in their right place. We need a second step in light of which the state’s security and military institutions are highly respected, and the presence of other parties flaunting their own potential is an anomaly that must end.
You have been subjected to a fierce campaign because of your reformist vision within the House of Representatives … Do you stick to that vision?
We have allowed non-holders of higher degrees to participate in a specific percentage estimated at 20 percent as a representation of the segments of society. The reform vision in the legislation that we hope will be achieved during the coming sessions will emphasize decentralization, civil peace, investment, economy and development.
Iraq was the victim of regional conflicts … What is your future strategy in dealing with the countries of the region?
We will work with the countries of the region to have a common regional security and we will not allow the entry of terrorist groups to Iraq through infiltration. We do not want any threats to those countries; we want intelligence and intellectual cooperation, because terrorism also needs mature intellectual recharge so that we can fill the arena.
Will there be any use of Al-Azhar in the intellectual war on terrorism?
One of the main points is the search for moderate thought to spread the religious ideas that, nourish the spirit and give it a sense of disciplined behavior which does not threaten the security of the state. Certainly Al-Azhar is one of these institutions.
Have you started a dialogue with Turkey to stop its military operations in northern Iraq?
I visited Turkey recently and discussed this aspect. There is a problem related to the PKK and the need for coordination to remove its negative impact. However, Iraq is keen on its sovereignty and existence and respect from neighboring countries to a great extent.
How far did the crisis with Kurdistan go? Was there an understanding on all outstanding issues?
The crisis with the Kurdistan region has been largely resolved and we will have a visit within days to the Territory. The territory has begun to believe in the need to engage in the unity of Iraq and we do not deny the aspirations of the region to live well and interests of the people of Kurdistan, which deserves the best.
What strategy does Iraq have in place to prevent the return of ISIL and to eliminate sectarianism?
The intellectual confrontation in the first place and security to prevent the growth of sleeper cells and the lack of an environment that can be invested. This is in addition to the economic dimension that can lead young people to be a tool in the hands of terrorist groups, and the need for political reform.
Will organizations participate in monitoring Iraqi elections?
We have asked the United Nations to monitor and there are local organizations and we welcome international monitoring.