Iraq’s National Reconciliation Minister Amir al-Khuzaei talks to NIQASH about why his job may be redundant once the US leaves, how armed militias will join the political process and the Libyan connection with Saddam Hussein’s followers.
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Once US troops withdraw there may no longer be any need for the National Reconciliation Committee, argues Amir al-Khuzaei, the government minister responsible for reconciling various ethnic, sectarian and political divisions in Iraq. Because then armed groups inside Iraq who say expelling the US is the reason for their existence, will no longer have any need to resist, he notes.
Al-Khuzaei, who is a member of current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s political party, also talked to NIQASH about whether the most recent round of removals of former Baath party officials, who were previously loyal to deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was due to information from the new leaders of Libya. He explains how well conciliatory dialogue was going with those Iraqis still demonstrating against the current government and whether former followers of Saddam Hussein are plotting a new round of insurgence against the rest of the country.
NIQASH: There are those who raise doubts about the reconciliation process led by the current government. What exactly are you doing and what are your objectives?
Al-Khuzaei: After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, everyone knows that the majority of Iraqis joined in the political process. They all approved of a permanent Constitution, one that guaranteed freedom, democracy and a peaceful transfer of power. However there were some parts of Iraqi society who had doubts about these changes in the country. The aim of the reconciliation process is to engage with these factions and to try to get their support for the political process.
NIQASH: Which parties or factions are you trying to get involved in the reconciliation process?
Al-Khuzaei: Everyone – with the exception of those who excluded themselves, such as al-Qaeda, or those who were excluded by the new Iraqi Constitution, such as the Baath party [Saddam Hussein’s former political party].