By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Salim al-Jabouri is the fifth Sunni Arab figure to become speaker of the parliament during the three post-2003 parliamentary terms. Jabouri belongs to the Islamic Party, which is said to be the Iraqi wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. He hails from Diyala province, which is witnessing political and demographic conflicts between Shiites, Sunnis and the Kurds.
Jabouri became parliament speaker in July 2014, succeeding his former ally and current rival, Osama al-Nujaifi. He has become one of the key players in Iraqi politics.
Al-Monitor interviewed him at his private office in central Baghdad’s protected Green Zone. The text of the interview follows:
Al-Monitor: Where do the Sunnis stand in the [future] post-Islamic State [IS] phase? What are your plans as Sunni leader for this phase?
Jabouri: We have had a great deal of suffering and displacement, and our main goal now is to have the displaced return to their homes and to rebuild the mindset of many of them, especially those who had to drop out of schools and universities. There was a clear political imbalance. On the one hand, there were policies that led to breeding extremism, joining terrorist groups, promoting extremist slogans and clashing with the state.
On the other hand, there was another approach whereby state-building requires stability and security, which, in turn, require the state to believe in stability, justice and freedom.
Moving forward, the parties representing Sunni provinces should find political consensus either as a single entity or as several entities. We are in favor of decentralization within the framework of the provinces, whereby each province turns into a region and an understanding is found with the political parties and the other components within a single state.
Al-Monitor: Do you mean consensus among the Sunni blocs or between Sunni blocs and other parties?
Jabouri: We will first seek internal consensus among the Sunni parties, and then we will look for a partner we can reach an understanding with within the same state.