Sunday, November 26, 2006

l’Humanité interviews Iraqi Minister Minister of Science and Technology Raïd Fahmi

Raïd Fahmi is Iraq's Minister of Science and Technology, and a member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist party. The French Communist daily l’Humanité interviewed and the English translation available here. HT to Labour Friends of Iraq.
l’Humanité: How does the Iraqi government, with its avowed objective of ending the occupation, intend to achieve the departure of foreign troops in light of the fact that the United States refuses to give the least schedule for withdrawal? It’s rumoured that major American military bases have been built and will endure, even in the event of the departure of military forces. Furthermore, it’s difficult to imagine the United States withdrawing purely and simply from the region.

Raïd Fahmi: Regarding the withdrawal of military forces, the Iraqi government’s approach is quite clear. We think that it’s not possible to call for an immediate withdrawal. The country is united on this front. Even political forces from the Sunnite community are firmly opposed to immediate withdrawal of the multinational forces, for reasons of national security. But there is also a large majority of the population who agree that it’s impossible to call for an unmodified continuation of the presence of multinational forces. These troops are here by virtue of UN resolutions 1637 and 1546 as well as a number of letters exchanged between two former Prime Ministers: Allaoui et Al Jaafari. We have publicly expressed the fact that we are no longer satisfied with these conditions today. Furthermore, negotiations are unde way with the multinational forces to review their conditions and their presence, and in particular, their authority, and their relationship with each other and with the Iraqi forces. The Iraqi government recommends that the Iraqi armed forces be primarily responsible for the country’s security. If the Iraqi forces need support from the multinational forces, it should be the Iraqis who ask for help, rather than the current situation where there are limits and constraints imposed on them by virtue of the above-mentioned resolutions. This should be formalized when the question of the authority of the multinational forces will be discussed in December. Nevertheless, this will not provide a definitive response with regards to the withdrawal date of the multinational forces. The principle of a withdrawal schedule has been accepted by the government. But this schedule has two prerequisites. We must establish a schedule for developing the capacities of Iraqi military forces, for increasing such capacities, and for the gradual transfer to the Iraqi forces of security files pertaining to the various Iraqi provinces. Similarly, the timing of the withdrawal of the multinational forces must be accelerated. This dual calendar should provide an acceptable solution for the population and will correspond to our desire to establish a withdrawal plan for foreign armies in Iraq.

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