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November 25, 2006

Iraqi Communist Minister assesses current situation

The Iraqi Minister of Science and Technology and member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist party Raïd Fahmi gave an interview to l’Humanité in which he says: as for what’s been accomplished in terms of meeting people’s primary needs (transportation, water…) or in the security area, I’m afraid we’ve fallen short, particularly in the Baghdad and central region of Iraq. On the other hand, we have made some progress towards establishing major governmental strategies. Especially at the political level, in that for over a year now, there is a national reconciliation initiative under way which was launched by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. Getting the nation out of the difficult impasse we currently find it in, necessarily includes a reconciliation process. This involves enlarging the government’s political base and process so as to create conditions for reducing violence and isolating those who resort to arms. This means integrating some of the groups who took up arms as a result of the poor decisions made by Paul Bremer (the American proconsul who was sent to Iraq immediately following the war, in April 2003 – editor’s note) or because of the behavior of the multinational forces who provoked reasonably negative reactions among the population. These groups are animated by a desire for a nation more than by a desire to restore Saddam Hussein’s regime or any other despotic potentate. These people can be integrated. Some contacts have already been established, and others are being made. We are still waiting to reap the benefits, but generally, the message is positive.

Asked about Troops Out, he couldn’t be clearer: Regarding the withdrawal of military forces, the Iraqi government’s approach is quite clear. We think that it’s not possible to call for an immediate withdrawal. The country is united on this front. Even political forces from the Sunnite community are firmly opposed to immediate withdrawal of the multinational forces, for reasons of national security. But there is also a large majority of the population who agree that it’s impossible to call for an unmodified continuation of the presence of multinational forces. These troops are here by virtue of UN resolutions 1637 and 1546 as well as a number of letters exchanged between two former Prime Ministers: Allaoui et Al Jaafari. We have publicly expressed the fact that we are no longer satisfied with these conditions today. Furthermore, negotiations are under way with the multinational forces to review their conditions and their presence, and in particular, their authority, and their relationship with each other and with the Iraqi forces. The Iraqi government recommends that the Iraqi armed forces be primarily responsible for the country’s security. If the Iraqi forces need support from the multinational forces, it should be the Iraqis who ask for help, rather than the current situation where there are limits and constraints imposed on them by virtue of the above-mentioned resolutions. This should be formalized when the question of the authority of the multinational forces will be discussed in December. Nevertheless, this will not provide a definitive response with regards to the withdrawal date of the multinational forces. The principle of a withdrawal schedule has been accepted by the government. But this schedule has two prerequisites. We must establish a schedule for developing the capacities of Iraqi military forces, for increasing such capacities, and for the gradual transfer to the Iraqi forces of security files pertaining to the various Iraqi provinces. Similarly, the timing of the withdrawal of the multinational forces must be accelerated. This dual calendar should provide an acceptable solution for the population and will correspond to our desire to establish a withdrawal plan for foreign armies in Iraq.

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