3 hours ago
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The outgoing Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, warned of what was worse than the October demonstrations. While he talked about the withdrawal of the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-Saudi negotiations, and the decision to raise the dollar.
Al-Kazemi said, in an interview with Al-Monitor, that “Iraq needs to distance itself from a “violent past” towards a future based on dialogue.”
Al-Kadhimi convened a national dialogue between leaders and political parties in Iraq, which may be Iraq's best hope, or at least a crucial first step, to avoid further political impasse, if not outright violence, and put Iraq on the path to elections.
Iraqi leaders have not been able to form a government. Since the parliamentary elections in October 2021, the party of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the largest number of seats, but the success of his rivals in gathering a third of the representatives in an opposition bloc prevented this from forming a government.
The only vacant chair so far in the national dialogue is Al-Sadr, but Al-Kazemi is optimistic because he believes that "Al-Sadr's participation is necessary for political stability in Iraq."
Al-Kazemi said: "Everyone understands now, that any government that does not include Al-Sadr will face huge challenges."
And he continued, "The political class in Iraq is facing a "crisis of confidence" with the public, the exclusion of al-Sadr, for example, may lead to a repeat of October 2019 or worse."
Al-Kadhimi came to power in May 2020, following the resignation of his predecessor, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned after security forces and armed groups killed more than 500 anti-government protesters between October and December 2019.
Al-Kazemi said: "My priorities are dialogue, then dialogue, then dialogue."
He pointed out that "Iran has friends in Iraq, and it is able to influence them and push them towards dialogue instead of using the weapons they currently have," adding: "We need a good relationship and we currently have a good relationship with Iran."
And he said: "Iraq during the era of Saddam Hussein was an unstable force in the region since day one. We will change this dynamic to be a positive contributor to stability and regional integration."
He added, "Iraq and Jordan are the ones who launched the idea of the new Levant", a concept based on common ground and interests "in order to serve the ultimate benefit for all through development, through economic relations and also through energy links, including plans for an integrated electricity network. “.
He pointed out, "The thinking behind this tripartite arrangement with Jordan and Egypt is to create a mechanism for broader coordination with the countries of the broader region, so that this broader coordination also includes the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council."
Al-Kazemi explained, "Some extremist elements inside Iraq did not want or did not want to see relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries progress in this way, but the majority of the Iraqi people support this relationship, and they are satisfied with it."
He stressed: “Many countries that had bitter differences among them attended the conference and sat at one table in Baghdad,” adding: “We are now discussing the appropriate time to hold this conference in Jordan, which will aim for more coordination to meet the challenges facing the region and the world. ”
Al-Kadhimi said that "Iraq has participated in five secret mediation efforts in the region, including talks between Iranian and Saudi officials hosted by Baghdad."
He continued, "Because of the degree of disengagement that existed between Iran and Saudi Arabia, we needed these five rounds of talks so far between the two parties to build an environment of trust."
He pointed out, "There will be another round of talks soon, before the negotiations move to a higher level."
And he indicated, "This role that Iraq plays contributes to calm and stability among the countries of the region, and this has repercussions on Iraq itself as well."
He explained, "The economic situation in Iraq is collapsing, and we have reached a point where we were unable to pay the salaries of public employees and retirees. We were in the middle of the Corona virus epidemic, oil prices collapsed and the Iranian-American conflict clashed on Iraqi soil."
He added: “That is why we took the difficult decision to present an economic reform document in the name of the White Paper. It is the first economic reform document submitted by an Iraqi government in seven decades. Many objected to my decision to move forward with this matter. This paper has set a five-year timetable, during which the Iraqi economy will witness reforms that push it towards another stage.”
He continued, "As a result, the political parties who feared the success that the government could achieve through this document took a reaction to the freezing of funds and support from this government."
And between: “The change in the exchange rate that we made in Iraq was one of the most successful adjustments or modifications to the models of national currency exchange rates in the world, and it happened without serious repercussions.”
"We were able to achieve all this despite the serious efforts of the political parties to obstruct progress," he added.
Al-Kazemi said: "We have also worked on an anti-corruption project. Corruption has a significant impact on economic development, but this project unfortunately faced a violent reaction from the mafia and influential corrupt people. The government is now facing retaliation from those affected by this anti-corruption project."
He concluded by saying: "The anti-corruption project has always been a moral responsibility and a public demand, a popular demand."
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