Press TV has interviewed Sa’ad al-Muttalibi, State of Law Coalition from Baghdad, to discuss comments made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki over Saudi Arabia meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq and Syria.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: We see that Prime Minister [Nouri] Maliki has pointed the finger specifically at Saudi Arabia. Now our guest in Washington [Mr. Richard Weitz] says it’s basically countries supporting those closest in perspective but not necessarily destabilizing the country. I want your thoughts on who do you think or which entity or country do you think is destabilizing or trying to destabilize Iraq?
Muttalibi: We have to admit there is a proxy war going on in Iraq on behalf of regional powers. Now as the guest in the States mentioned not only is Saudi Arabia interfering in the Iraqi picture but as a destabilizing force and a power that is linked to ISIL and to al-Qaeda, we have definite proof of such interference.
Al-Qaeda is not fighting a proxy-war against neighboring Iran or Turkey or Kuwait or Syria, but they are actually striving to bring down the political regime and democracy in Iraq.
So, there are two agendas here. There is an interference from neighboring countries. But the agenda or the reason why there is a regional interference in Iraq and a proxy war going on — fueled by the push from the United States into creating this theory of this axis of evil where Syria and Iran are a part of those — then Saudi Arabia is manipulating on the picture and trying to get in, pushing for a seat as a leading Arab country or Islamic country to decide how things run in the region.
But for particularly Iraq as a destabilizing force — as Christopher Hill, ex-Ambassador to Baghdad, very clearly mentioned and as Jeffrey Feltman also – Undersecretary – was very correct in saying that there were and there are evidence of very serious Saudi meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq and aiming at destabilizing the political regime here.
So the political picture is complicated to say the least, but that does deny or does not say that Saudi Arabia is not part of a regional important force in trying to destabilize the state of Iraq.
Press TV: Let me just expand on what you said. I want to get clarity on what you just said. Are you saying that it is the United States that is the main entity behind this destabilization in your country?
Muttalibi: Yes, definitely. It’s a side product.
What America did by claiming the theory of the axis of evil and pushing Arab states that are closely linked to the United States into creating an enemy of Iran, unfortunately Saudi Arabia misunderstood this picture and considered Iraq as part of the overall Middle Eastern picture that Iraq is a close ally of Iran, therefore Saudi Arabia by hitting at Iran are by the way attacking Iraq to destabilize Iraq on the thought that Iraq and Iran are closely linked. Therefore, by hitting the Iraqi regime or the Iraqi political system, they think they are hitting Iran at the same time.
Press TV: In general, who do you think benefits from an unstable Iraq? –Because usually in a situation, obviously, countries around a country tend to want their neighbors to be stable. You pointed the finger at the United States and Saudi Arabia. Would the Saudis not be afraid of this type of violence actually backfiring and entering into its own soil?
Muttalibi: Finally and eventually yes. Saudi Arabia will suffer from the commodity that they exported to us and to Syria. Unfortunately it takes a wise man to understand that a stable country, a stable neighbor contributes to the stability of its own country.
But we have to remember that Saudi Arabia does not have a democratic system so they don’t really understand or care about what the people say. They have a king and they have a monarchy, a non-democratic system where the royal family decides whatever they want and a jurisprudence of clerics and religious institutions backs the monarchy. They don’t really have the same democratic system where they have to answer to their own people.
Press TV: Your take, Mr. Al-Muttalibi, because we saw when the revolution took place in Egypt, we saw immediately Saudi Arabia and Qatar definitely going against what the people wanted initially. Do you think that these types of regimes fear an Arab success model of representative government?
Muttalibi: It’s natural that democracy is contagious.
Democracy is not only contagious but it does not respect sovereign borders. It’s very natural for a regime such as Saudi Arabia to fear from any success story in particular from an important regional country like Iraq, with its natural resources and its ability to be a bridge between the West and the East, and a close ally to the Arab world at the same time holding an excellent relationship with Iran and Turkey at the same time.
Iraq, you have to remember, historically is the crossroads of all civilizations. Whatever happens in Iraq definitely passes a very strong footprint in the region.
Everybody knows that democracy is contagious. Saudi Arabia will naturally feel a bit worried.
Reading the literature of Saudi Arabia in the past few months or monitoring their media we see very clearly that they highlight all the atrocities that happen in Iraq and never once mentioned a positive aspect of Iraqi life.
So, the way they present to the people that the experiment in Iraq is the biggest failure in the Middle East and democracy in Iraq is such a failure that nobody should try and copy that example. This is their internal media and internal literature that they feed to their own people, which naturally shows that there is a fear of that.
Press TV: Your take on what’s happening in the al-Anbar province. We know that Takfiri insurgents have actually taken over parts of that province. I want to know the significance of that. Are they trying to send a message to the Iraqi people and do you think with the elections — first of all, will they be able to hold elections in that province, and the significance of this election, if it is successful, will it be a boost for security forces to get more of a stronghold or control over that region and others?
Muttalibi: We believe here in Iraq, and it’s not only me, I’m speaking on behalf of thousands and hundreds of people that I’ve actually seen and spoken to during this campaign, they talk very openly of the necessity of moving away from consensual democracy into majority democracy, and a government that should be formed on the basis of majority blocks within the government parliament, away from consensual agreement. Since the consensual agreement that was been imposed on Iraq, it definitely proved it is not working within our framework and our social structure.
Therefore, we consider this election to be a milestone election, the election that will decide the fate of the state of Iraq, the shape of Iraq. Will Iraq continue to be a federal state or centralized, decentralized? What kind of a federal state, is it confederation or federation? All these questions would be answered at this election.
Also, the upcoming elections and the political map that will be produced will be in charge of setting right the security forces and legislating laws that will allow our security forces to act more responsibly and more actively within the country.
Fallujah, what’s happening there is a big media thing. But nothing’s really been affected here in Baghdad. There is a try by al-Qaeda to move away attention from Fallujah and Anwar province into Baghdad, trying to draw attention away from Fallujah. But the war in Fallujah is between al-Qaeda, ISIS and the local tribesmen who are fighting al-Qaeda.
The Iraqi army until now is not involved in any battles with al-Qaeda or ISIS, therefore we can see how important the upcoming election is and how important the political map that it will produce.
Press TV: Your take on the same question, what will it take to reestablish security in your country?
Muttalibi: Yes, there are two issues here we have to take into consideration, the local political map from one side, and the regional events. As your guest very clearly said, what’s happening in Syria is a major factor in security in Iraq, and also the political map with the unfortunate presence of certain political entities that created a fertile ground for regional interference. That means there will always be a political group that will invite regional interference in particular from Syria and from extremist elements from Syria.
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