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- Baghdad - IQ
The President of the Republic, Abd al-Latif Rashid, affirmed that the "primary goal" at the current stage relates to restoring Iraq's primary role in the region, and providing a "respectable life for the Iraqis."
Rashid discussed a number of political, economic and security files in an interview with the official channel, followed by IQ NEWS, as well as the file of relations with the countries of the region and the region and the water crisis.
The full text of the dialogue with the President of the Republic Abdul Latif Rashid:
Let us start from the latest global developments. You contacted the leadership of the countries that were subjected to the terrible earthquake in Syria and Turkey and expressed your solidarity. Iraq's solidarity with these countries, while offering condolences and assistance regardless of any sanctions imposed on this country or that.
What happened in Turkey and Syria has a great impact from a humanitarian point of view, and the number of victims is very large, and the impact of the earthquake on residential areas is very terrifying and frightening, and it has a great impact on the Turkish and Syrian peoples. We provided all the assistance, and it is a great tragedy for us as well, because most of the citizens have close and long-term relationships with the people of the areas hit by the earthquake. God willing, we can help, and they also receive humanitarian aid from all over the world. Yesterday, I called His Excellency President Al-Assad and offered my condolences in the name of the Iraqi people and in my own name for this tragedy, and I tried to contact President Erdogan, but he was on a field tour and it was impossible to contact (the call took place later).
Your Excellency, we have an opinion as Iraq regarding the sanctions that prevent countries from providing support to other countries, whether to improve the economic situation or to repair infrastructure in emergency situations, such as what happened in Syria.
The problem of the blockade on countries is a complex problem, and I am convinced that sometimes if the blockade is aimed at leading a country or changing a country, its effect is small, and its greatest impact is on the people, which prevents the people from normal life in all economic and financial aspects and the import and export of necessary things, in my opinion it should Putting radical solutions to the laws of the blockade on any country, whatever it is.
We started the dialogue with the external situation and Iraq's external relations, and if we complete this file, you have contact with many countries of the world, and there were visits to Algeria to attend the Arab Summit Conference and Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the Climate Conference and the Davos Economic Forum, during which you presented a model for a stable Iraq, and you talked about the possibility of a stable Iraq An incubator for his Arab brothers and also for all economic investments.
I want to go back before the visits, as you know we organized elections in Iraq, the election of the President of the Republic as well as the election of the Prime Minister and the formation of the government, and before that we witnessed a long period leading up to the elections and also after the elections to elect the President of the Republic, this process, although it was long and tiring, but I believe it had effects Positively, understandings and a common approach and coordination were reached between the blocs, parties and political parties, and this is very important. We succeeded in the election process, and thank God, the reaction of the Iraqi street was good and positive, and they (the citizens) have positive expectations from the new government and the Presidency of the Republic on the basis of consolidating and deepening peace and security in Iraq, and this is a very important point for us and for Iraq's reputation abroad.
When I visited Algeria to attend the Arab summit, I noticed and felt very welcome by all the Arab leaders who participated in the summit, and they congratulated the Iraqi people on this achievement, and encouraged a pivotal and important role for Iraq in the region, as well as wanting a political and economic role for Iraq, and all of them affirm support for security and stability and development.
Then I visited Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the Climate Summit, and I noticed that most of the European heads of state (were) on the same approach, and expressed their willingness to cooperate and coordinate with Iraq for a better future, and support for Iraq to play a major role in the region.
Your Excellency, when you talk about the Arabs asking for the Iraqi role in solving their problems, but on the other hand there are those who talk about the Arabs only wishing for security for Iraq. The idea seems contradictory between those who expect Iraq to be insecure and those who ask Iraq to intervene to solve its problems.
Going back a bit, Iraq was for a long time isolated from its regional and international surroundings, and we cannot fix everything overnight. We had disagreements with most of the neighboring countries, with the closest neighbors we had a war for a long time, and after that the invasion of Kuwait and political conflicts with most countries in the region, all of them had an impact, and later we witnessed difficult periods and we suffered from terrorism, now the situation is new in Iraq and we have finished with terrorism, and the way The elections were acceptable to most of the neighboring countries, and therefore they showed their willingness to fully cooperate with Iraq, and they felt that the survival of Iraq’s isolation means that the region’s problems will not be solved. Iraq is politically and historically important, as well as the natural resources in Iraq. We can provide great services to the region, and they provide Services for us By improving the service situation and investment and strengthening the development field, we need in some cases the help of foreign countries, including regional ones, to accomplish our development, security and political project.
Did you find a welcome for the new government and the new performance of Iraq? Especially since what happened after the elections until the completion of the political understandings was not hidden from everyone. The political discord reached the point of armed clashes, until it reached (to) what it has reached now. Did you really find the welcome or is there Arab fear?
I noticed a wide welcome, and I did not sense any apprehension or reservation, in addition (to that) they see the formation of the new government, coordination, cooperation and exchange of views between the political blocs, and this is a good point and I hope that this coordination and cooperation will remain between all the political blocs in Iraq.
Neighboring countries, and even non-neighbours, European and others, welcome the formation of the new government and its program, and I heard from the Prime Minister during his visits to European countries (that) he was welcomed and encouraged to implement the government program, as well as by delegations visiting Iraq from all over the world, and we are on an almost daily basis We meet with them, and they welcome the government's program and the current status quo, and what we care about now is security, stability, and the implementation of our program.
Another point, Iraq is a rich country and part of the world's interest. Part of (that) is related to the wealth of Iraq, for cooperation, investment and building infrastructure. As you know, we have a great shortage of infrastructure and services, and now we must start implementing services in all fields, health, education and infrastructure. Infrastructure, water, electricity, roads and bridges, and I am very pleased that the current government's program seriously includes these issues, and everyone is waiting for the budget, and it must be approved as soon as possible in order to distribute resources and start the actual process of improving the infrastructure in Iraq.
Do I understand from you, Mr. President, that the government is proceeding diligently in implementing the governmental platform agreed upon in the State Administration Coalition?
Certainly, with regard to the Council of Ministers, as well as the State of the Prime Minister, (everyone) is interested in this issue, and daily at their discussion table this is discussed, and they classify development activities in Iraq into service, urgent, and strategic. We need some strategic projects, for example, we need a large port In southern Iraq, railways, roads and bridges, and these cannot be accomplished within months or a year, but attention must be paid to them, and we need external support and investment in projects, for example in the petrochemical industries, and housing projects are very necessary, because a large number of Iraqis are without housing, and there is a shortage In hospitals and schools, and I am optimistic about the future, because our capabilities are there and the support is there.
The main point to focus on is the survival of security, stability, coordination and cooperation between all political parties.
Continuing the current understanding and not letting matters go to unimaginable consequences by deviating from the constitution, are you trying to resolve the differences within the constitution?
In the agreements that were concluded between you, in the State Administration Coalition, you agreed that all components take their constitutional entitlement, but can there not be a specific dispute here or there because of what happened from the Federal Court’s decision on the illegality of the financial payments of the previous government to the Kurdistan region?
First, as a principle, we agreed on the necessity of taking the opinion of all the political blocs and parties, and that does not mean agreeing to every small part. The general goal is the survival of security and stability. Side disputes and conflicts do not lead to positive results. Our goal is Iraq’s performance of its main role in the region, as well as for the Iraqi people to enjoy with a good standard of living, and therefore (the) cooperation and coordination between all parties is very necessary, and no political party should be neglected, whatever its objectives, and it must be involved with us for the sake of the public interest.
Another point, in my opinion, the situation now between the Kurdistan region and the federal government is a good situation and good relations, and we are all trying to make efforts to strengthen these relations. There were some problems previously, and we are trying to solve them according to the constitution. There are some shortcomings such as the failure to legislate the oil and gas law between the Kurdistan region and the federal government. We started with these steps, and God willing, the law will be enacted in the near future. We gave ourselves six months, three months have passed and we have three months to complete the law.
Do you think that the oil and gas law will solve the dispute between the federal government and the Kurdistan region?
Certainly, because the law will be by agreement between the political parties, especially between the region and the federal government, and I believe that the problems that exist with regard to imports and export of oil should be left until a clear law is enacted that we work with, then we can hold each party accountable according to the law. This is my opinion and I imagine (it is) the opinion of the majority In the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
You mean, Your Excellency, first, in the beginning, the oil and gas law must be approved, and on the basis of approving the law, we will have a constitutional and legal basis, and the Federal Court and any other court that can hold the federal government or the regional government accountable.
The President of the Republic: Yes, according to the Oil and Gas Law.
Is the dispute limited to the oil and gas law, or are there other differences?
There are some other issues, for example the delay in paying the farmers’ allowances in the Kurdistan region after they presented the wheat crop to the Ministry of Commerce in the federal government, for example, some issues are linked to the borders of the region, and there are committees working on them, and among other issues is the issue of Kirkuk, which has not taken place yet. Radical changes, and we postponed some things regarding them. The problem of Kirkuk must be resolved along with some areas that were considered disputed. Until now, Article 140 has not been implemented. There are contacts and directions to solve these problems. Frankly, I am very optimistic about resolving them. What we see is the willingness of the region and the federal government to solve problems, as well as coordination between the political blocs. And with the state administration coalition.
Your Excellency, regarding the situation in the Kurdistan region, we ask, first of all, who is closer now to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or to the Kurdistan Democratic Party?
In my capacity as the President of the Republic, I must be close to all political parties, the Iraqi people, and every Iraqi individual. I do not use the word “disputes” because most of them are misunderstandings, actions, or decisions without coordination and cooperation. We in Iraq are so far in some areas new to governance, and our policy is not clear in some areas. This leads to misunderstandings between the political parties. I do not consider them to be strong or deep disagreements. I believe that the disagreements that exist not only in the Kurdistan region but also in Iraq (in general) are mostly superficial disagreements, and their solutions are simple to be resolved through a frank dialogue session or two. The main problems are like earthquakes, which are considered a problem (for) the people and governments.
Sessions are required between the competing and conflicting parties, but with regard to the region, these sessions are required (more) but they did not take place, until we heard in certain cases that Sulaymaniyah demanded a special budget in isolation from Erbil, some benefits should go to these regions separate from those regions, some demand At other times, Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, and some other cities will be a separate region in itself. What is your response to such media leaks? Give us a picture of what is happening in the region?
Praise be to God, my relationship is good with all Kurdish parties, not only with the two main parties, as well as with independents and the cultural and scientific elites. I am trying to strengthen my relationship with all parties in the region, and this is my duty, as I must represent everyone, not a specific group.
We must define the goal, and our goal is to solve problems and not focus on them, because we have no other alternative but to live with each other and peaceful coexistence, coordination and cooperation with each other. Yes, sometimes there are problems, for example, about salaries and the financial share of Sulaymaniyah in some cases, and their solution is very simple, I say That if the problem of oil and gas and their imports, as well as the imports of the central government to the region, are resolved, then the issues within the region will be resolved easily, and therefore we must focus on solving problems, because we have no other alternative. Is the alternative dividing Iraq into mini-states? This is not a solution, and there is no room for such talk.
I think that the Kurdistan Regional Government is serious about solving problems, as are other political parties. I am sure that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is serious about resolving problems, and two weeks ago a meeting took place between the two main parties, and a second meeting that was supposed to be held later was postponed. Postponement of meetings or even the absence of leaders in meetings does not affect solving problems that require coordination, cooperation and understanding. Frankly, I am optimistic about the future, and I do not have any pessimism. The Iraqi government and the State Administration coalition are serious about solving problems, and these problems end when the budget is approved. We need rounds of negotiations in the region with the Kurdish parties to solve problems and reach understanding.
The Kurdistan Regional Government must take into account that it is a government for all the cities of the region and not just a government for Erbil or a limited region. It must be a government for Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dohuk and all parts of the Kurdistan Region.
Did you meet the leaders of the (Democratic) after the election of the President of the Republic?
Yes, many times, and any delegation that comes from Kurdistan to Baghdad, from any side, I meet them.
Who did you meet among the leaders of the (Democratic)?
I met with Mr. Masoud Barzani, Mr. Nechirvan Barzani, and I met with Mr. Masrour Barzani and members of the Political Bureau as well as the ministers of the regional government, and at the same time I met with Mr. Pavel Talabani, President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Mr. Qubad Talabani, as well as members of the Political Bureau and cadres outside the party system (of whom) some of them are due to age Or not to run for elections, and I met with other parties, such as the leaders of the Socialist Party in Sulaymaniyah.
When you meet members outside the PUK, is there a desire to bring the parties together again?
All of them have a desire to solve problems even within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and I noticed at the same time that the Kurdistan Democratic Party has a mutual desire to solve problems, and the relationship of the two parties is good, and frankly we have a problem in Iraq which is (that some) our media is negative, especially now the role of social media, which works In order to deepen the differences rather than solve them, this problem exists in Iraq and not only in the region.
Iraq's reputation abroad so far is based on the fact that we live in a region of wars and terrorism. No one estimates that Baghdad has not witnessed any terrorist security incident in four or five years, and in most cases more than 90% of Iraq's regions are safe and stable, some even European countries. There are more security problems than Iraq, either security or terrorist problems. The image of Iraq abroad is not yet clear, and I blame the media because it does not focus on stability and security and our steps for development and provision of services, with regard to solving problems.
Problems are solved through coordination and cooperation, and conflicts do not solve problems, but rather increase them, and there is no objection to healthy competitions to serve the people, but political conflicts without justifications have no weight.
Among your opinions is that some political conflicts have affected our external situation, especially the water file, and you are an expert in it.
I studied water and worked with water and love for water. The issue of water for Iraq is a slightly complicated issue. The problem of the country is not only an external problem, but part of it is internal problems that must be solved. There are major factors that have a direct impact on the amount of water in Iraq, first the climate, which is not under our control. Year after year, we suffer from scarcity of rain water, (scarcity) of snowfall and high temperatures. The other problem is how neighboring countries deal with the amount of water entering Iraq. We are a downstream country, and most of our water comes from Turkey through the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and part of the tributaries comes From the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Euphrates River passes through Syria, and we must deal with these three countries on the basis of technical cooperation for the benefit of all. We in Iraq want a fair share, and not all the shares that we previously received before building dams and projects in Syria, Turkey or the Islamic Republic.
Al-Iraqiya: What do you mean by the fair share, the old share? Or what?
The fair share means calculating how much water we need during the periods of the year, for example during the planting season we need a larger amount than what (comes to us in) other periods in which we must also guarantee a full share for drinking and daily uses, and this is present.But with regard to agriculture, we must be given a serious amount to improve agriculture in Iraq, and we also have the southern marshes that need a fair share and sufficient water to revive them well, because they are an important area from an environmental and social point of view, not only for Iraq but for the whole region, and another point related to our internal situation linked to the way we deal with The water resources coming to us, where the water resources must be invested in a good and practical way to preserve them, the rate of water waste must be reduced, as we have large amounts of waste and this is a pressure card on us by the neighboring countries, on the basis that we are not interested in the amount of water we have, and we must also improve the methods of Agriculture in Iraq and the modernization of the irrigation methods in force. There are modern methods of irrigation that do not consume large amounts of water, and the irrigation network must also be improved in Iraq. Most of our channels are earthen and not inhabited, and there is a lot of waste in them. Likewise, we do not have binding decisions for farmers and others regarding the method of using water, for example. We have dozens, maybe hundreds of themThe fish ponds that we do not need and drain a lot of our water resources from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Get on a plane and you will notice from the air large amounts of wasted water without benefit.
Therefore (there are) three factors affecting the water profile; Firstly, the climate, secondly, the behavior of neighboring countries, and thirdly, the way we manage water. With regard to dealing with neighboring countries, it should be through peaceful means, understanding and coordination. Some refer to the necessity of resorting to international laws and imposing them on them. I believe that international laws cannot (with them) impose binding things. Coordination and understanding with neighboring countries and their assistance to us to improve the situation and achieve Iraq A fair share sufficient for daily and agricultural uses is the best choice.
His Excellency the President, the former Minister of Water Resources called for an international lawsuit against the countries that refuse to give Iraq the legally determined share among the riparian countries.
I cannot answer on behalf of the former Minister of Water Resources, but I ask which law will we rely on? International laws so far do not impose anything, and the only agreed upon law is to resolve water disputes between countries bilaterally. The United Nations, international conferences, and international experts always recommend resolving problems through negotiations, understanding, cooperation, and agreement between the riparian countries.
Why do the riparian countries refuse to cooperate with us?
Honestly, I did not notice their refusal to cooperate. When I was Minister of Water Resources for eight years, I did not see their refusal to cooperate, but they have some conditions, and we also have conditions. There must be mutual implementation of these conditions, and everyone agrees on the basis of the fair share of water that Iraq needs. But at the same time, they are asking us to reduce waste, and I think this is a reasonable condition.
The only agreement we have on water is the agreement between Iraq and Syria on the Euphrates River, which stipulates that the Syrian side will retain 42% of the water, while with the rest of the countries most of them have memorandums of understanding between us and the Islamic Republic of Iran and between us and the Republic of Turkey.
I would like to point out a point. Previously, Turkey was asking us to settle the water file on the basis of water in exchange for oil, but with our efforts and the efforts of the technicians in Iraq, we were able during the negotiations to change this condition during the negotiations, and to go on the basis of a fair share for all.
Is it possible to erect dams and build large dams, and do we even need dams?
Certainly dams can be created, and we need dams to store water for agriculture and other needs, for example most of the areas where there are dams, whose lakes are turned into tourist areas in addition to being used to provide drinking water, for example the water of Sulaymaniyah Governorate by up to 100% depends on the Dokan Dam, We have good lakes, such as the Mosul Dam, Tharthar, and Darbandikhan. God willing, during the coming years, we will build a number of other dams in different regions of Iraq, which are included in the budget of the Iraqi state.
Your Excellency, the answer of your honor, and you are the expert in the field of water, is a fact that confuses any follower, because all the ministers of water resources differ on the issue of erecting new dams or Iraq’s need for new dams, some of them say that Iraq does not need dams because we basically suffer from water scarcity and there There is a global scarcity of water, and therefore we need rationalization and not new dams. You, the expert in this field, say we need dams. Does this mean that we do not have a unified vision?
We have a unified vision, and I challenge those who say that we do not need dams, and this is not my words, but rather the words of specialists, and during my time in the Ministry of Water Resources we made a plan for water management throughout Iraq until the year 2035-2040, which includes tips for building a number of dams, and the dams we are talking about Here, it is not like the High Dam or Mosul Dam, but rather small dams to preserve rain water and preserve the water of tributaries coming from Iran, which are large in winter and we need to store and use them in summer. For example, we built a dam in Khanaqin and Mandali, as the people of these areas had a great shortage of water for periods. It took a long time, but after the construction of the dam, the water problem in these areas was solved, and there are also a number of other dams, even in the western region (in which) we built dams.
Your Excellency the President also among your interests are the provinces and solving their problems, and even your attendance at the Gulf Cup final in Basra was in support of the province of Basra, and showing some solutions to their problems and other provinces.
Visiting the governorates is necessary, and I am sure that the Prime Minister and the government are all interested in the governorates, and this is our duty, taking care of all the governorates. Most of the provinces frankly suffer from poor services, poor agriculture, and the lack of electricity and hospitals at the global level. I was very happy to visit Basra and Mosul, and the good things in them. Basra has potential and a good program for development and provision of services. I was also happy with the security and stability in Basra, and the governor and I were walking alone In the streets through the governor’s car, and the same thing in Mosul, but there are problems as a result of the city’s suffering from terrorism for a long time, but now things are good and they have started building infrastructure and providing services, and God willing, I will visit other provinces, and I hear that all provinces have started projects to provide services.
On the basis of this declaration (the) provinces will await your visit; Najaf, Karbala, Samawah, Diwaniyah
God willing, there is a program to visit the provinces.
Also, among the needs of the governorates, it was said that at the end of next October, the provincial council elections will be held. Is this a final decision or is it related to the agreement of the political forces once again?
It is necessary to hold provincial council elections, and I imagine there are preparations, but the final decision is still under the study of the Council of Ministers and under the study of the Prime Minister.
As it was said, and within the framework of the agreement of the political forces, a new election law and a new commission, are you going in this field?
Discussions are still ongoing and some suggestions exist, but we have not reached a final decision, and I am sure that the decision will be in coordination and cooperation with all political blocs to decide the method of elections and the procedures associated with them, for example, counting and sorting, and my hope will be announced in a short period.
In your opinion, we need a new commission or amend the current commission?
This issue must be discussed through dialogue. We may need changes in the commission, and I believe that changes are necessary in all fields. When we change the cabinet, we may need to change the commission or support it with personalities who are not present at the present time.
When you talk about the changes that are taking place in certain places, now, for example, the Prime Minister said that the change will include any minister who does not fully perform his duty. Is this done through dialogue with your Excellency and discussion to solicit opinions in your meetings as presidencies?
One of his powers as prime minister is to change any minister if he is not satisfied with the performance of his duties, and he is free to take the decision, and one of the prime minister’s conditions before assuming the position was (that) he demanded that he have a major opinion in choosing ministers and at the same time he has a decision to evaluate their performance However, I have not heard of changing any minister, but in principle he has this authority.
Al-Iraqiya: When you meet as presidencies, what are the most important dialogues that take place between you?
The President of the Republic: We are discussing all issues. First, we have a set of files that must be discussed, for example the oil and gas law and other laws, the issue of relations with neighboring countries and the world, and we are discussing our foreign visits and telephone calls, as well as the visits of upcoming delegations to Iraq and our relations with them and the interests that unite Iraq with other countries. , and other files that we are looking for.
Al-Iraqiya: Which country do you have a close visit to? Which province do you visit?
The President of the Republic: We have a visit to Azerbaijan (where) a number of countries of the Non-Aligned Group will attend, and I have a visit to the United States to attend a conference on the issue of water and the environment at the level of presidencies and leaders of countries of the world, and I look forward to visiting the Middle Euphrates, as I used to visit it in the past when I was Minister of Resources Water, as well as for the marshes and the general estuary, and the provinces of Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah and Amarah.
I said that within your meetings you will discuss the international situation. If we go back a little to the international situation, now (there have been) important visits of important countries to Iraq; The Russian foreign minister, the Saudi foreign minister, and the Iranian deputy foreign minister at the same time. Are these visits related? Or visit Iraq to discuss bilateral files? Or do these countries have a certain common relationship that coincided with their visits?
We have relations with all the countries that have been visited or that have visited us, and most of them want to know the new situation in Iraq and focus on joint bilateral cooperation, for example with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the same thing with the Iranian deputy foreign minister.
The Russian Foreign Minister gave his point of view regarding the Ukrainian-Russian war as well as joint cooperation. Our cooperation with Russia is old, and we have commercial, economic and cultural cooperation with Russia since the sixties of the last century.
Most of the delegations coming to Iraq come to congratulate the government and the President of the Republic on the occasion of their election. They are very happy with the formation of the government and the ministerial program. They have seen our goals in economic development.
I would like to point out a point during our meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister. I clarified our position regarding the Ukrainian-Russian war, that we do not support the war and our goal is to stop the fighting as soon as possible, and start negotiations to solve the problems.
Did they ask to bypass the sanctions in the matter of economic cooperation between us and Russia?
They did not ask for any excesses, but I imagine they have some amounts owed by Iraq that must be paid to them, and the method of payment is up to the Iraqi government and the Central Bank of Iraq to decide how to pay it.
- Is the visit of the Saudi foreign minister, as has been said, related to the desire for Iraq to once again embrace a round of Iranian-Saudi meetings?
Yes, this desire exists, and when I met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Sharm el-Sheikh, he said that the Saudi-Iranian meetings are very useful and important, and he thanked Iraq for hosting the meetings, and we hope that the meetings will continue in the near future.