PM Maliki puts Iraq at crossroads: Fugitive VP

PM Maliki puts Iraq at crossroads: Fugitive VP

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
PM Maliki puts Iraq at crossroads: Fugitive VP

Iraq’s fugitive Sunni VP reads the Daily News. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has left his country at a crossroads that promises a difficult path ahead, fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tarik al-Hashemi said yesterday.

The vice president, meanwhile, also said he had such great fondness for Turkey’s ruling party that he copied some of its manifesto for his own purposes. “When I was writing the philosophy and program of my party in Iraq, I tried to copy the philosophy of the [Justice and Development Party (AKP)]. In fact I got many paragraphs from the [AKP] program and changed it according to [Iraq’s conditions].”

“We are facing a highly sensitive political crisis for the first time in nine years. If we cannot solve this crisis through the constitution and by sitting around a table, the future of my country will be gloomy and really worrying, and all options will be on the table. I hope none of them splits Iraq,” al-Hashemi told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday.

Al-Hashemi has been staying at an apartment provided to him by the Turkish government in Istanbul’s Başakşehir district during a visit to Turkey. There were official guards waiting underneath the apartment where he stays with his wife and where he receives visitors.

Addressing the danger of a split in Iraq in the future, al-Hashemi said: “I hope not. The constitution already covers this subject and Article 1 confirms that Iraq should be maintained as united as it is now. Regardless of that, the crisis generated by al-Maliki is putting my country at a crossroads.”

Al-Hashemi, a Sunni, fled to northern Iraq after being accused of running a death squad by Iraqi authorities and al-Maliki, a Shiite. The vice president has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated.

Al-Maliki’s latest statement regarding the Syrian crisis was also “alarming,” al-Hashemi said. “Al-Maliki has said they are not going to support any initiative to topple the [Bashar] al-Assad regime; this means he is deviating from the position of the Arab summit and trying to have his own isolated position regarding the Syrian problem. This doesn’t serve the interest of Iraq.”

Al-Hashemi accused al-Maliki of involvement with the assassination of his brother Gen. Amir al-Hashemi.

PM Maliki puts Iraq at crossroads: Fugitive VP

DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

“My brother Gen. [Amir] al-Hashemi was assassinated by special troops who are under the control of the chief of command. At that time and until now, Nouri al-Maliki is the chief of command. His official troops targeted my brother and assassinated him. Al-Maliki should at least be responsible for following up on the case and investigating who the actual killers were. But he didn’t do this. This gave me the evidence that in one way or another al-Maliki was committed to the assassination of my brother. I don’t have concrete evidence on that, but he at least didn’t instruct the Interior Ministry to finish the investigation,” al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi said his sister Maysoon al-Hashem and his brother Mahmoud al-Hashemi were also killed by police who were wearing uniforms provided by the ministry.

Al-Hashemi said he would meet with the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, on his visit to Turkey this week but would not necessarily return to Arbil where he took shelter after leaving Baghdad. “I am expecting to have another round of talks with Turkish leaders. But then I will go back to Kurdistan again.”

Al-Hashemi visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia ahead of his visit to Turkey. Al-Hashemi said the two countries would like to have more coordination with Turkey on taking more concrete measures regarding the situation in Syria.

“Both countries would very much like Turkey to play a more active role on the ground to stop the bloodshed in Syria. They are ready to take more concrete measures if the Annan initiative doesn’t work. This could be creating safe havens or safe corridors in Syria, arming the opposition might be a second option. And they would like Turkey to join them in these options,” al-Hashemi said.

Al-Hashemi also said the United States and Iran were both supporting the al-Maliki government in a parallel political line. “There is evidence that there was hidden coordination between both countries [U.S. and Iran] to support the corrupted, injustice and unqualified government in Iraq,” al-Hashemi said.

Iraq, Turkey