Allawi criticizes U.S., Maliki
Former Iraqi premier criticizes U.S.
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 37
BAGHDAD - Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a
secular Shiite just back from barnstorming for support
among Sunni Arab leaders across the Middle East,
appears determined to make another run at the
His platform: Iraq cannot survive under the current
Shiite leadership, and Sunnis must have a much larger
role in government.
The Sunni-dominated Arab League believes this, as
well, but the idea is opposed by the Shiite-led
government in Iraq. Most Shiite lawmakers cannot abide
Allawi's secular positions and it appears unlikely he
could form a sufficiently large parliamentary
coalition to retake the prime minister's office.
Iraq's Shiite-dominated government is heavily
influenced by two powerful clerics, and its decisions
are often heavily laced with Shiite religious
doctrine. Some call the country a thinly veiled
theocracy like the one in neighboring Iran, where many
members of Iraq's Shiite power structure took refuge
Saddam Hussein's rule.
Moreover, the political apparatus that backs Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki has shown almost no
willingness to promote reconciliation with the
minority Sunni sect that ran the country for decades
before Saddam's ouster in the U.S.-led invasion four
Allawi, while Shiite through family history, rejects
mixing religion and government and says Iraq can only
survive through reconciliation with Sunni Muslims and
building government, military and police structures
that are loyal to the Iraqi people, not to one of the
nation's Muslim sects.
Allawi, who trained as a surgeon and reportedly had
ties to the CIA and British intelligence agency during
his years in exile, was installed as Iraq's first
post-Saddam prime minister. His appointed government
ran the country from June 2004 until his party was
routed by religious Shiite parties in the January 2005
He had been put in office by L. Paul Bremer, the U.S.
official who ran Iraq for a year after the invasion.
Now he is seeking to de-emphasize his links with the
U.S., publicly at least.
In an interview with The Associated Press last week,
Allawi said the U.S.-backed draft oil law has the
potential to "cause a severe backlash in society."
The draft law, designed in part to create a fair
distribution of oil profits to all Iraqis, is perhaps
the most important piece of legislation for Iraq's
American patrons. But the measure, which would give
foreign companies some access to the country's
enormous oil reserves, has not yet been put before
Passage of the oil law, thought to have been written
with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks
the Bush administration has set for al-Maliki's
But Allawi said the measure was written under time
pressure and could have negative unforeseen
consequences. He did not elaborate.
He was also critical of the Baghdad security operation
to which President Bush has committed an additional
30,000 troops, with full deployment not expected until
"It seems to me even the surge, unfortunately, is not
working efficiently yet," Allawi said. "Security, as
you can see, is still deteriorating in the country and
sectarianism is unfortunately prevailing. We are
witnessing wide-scale atrocities throughout the
He blamed what he sees as al-Maliki's unwillingness to
start a dialogue with the Sunni Arabs who ran the
country under Saddam. For that reason, he said, the
security drive "is not going to succeed, is going to
backfire the day after" it ends.
"We don't have a political process now," Allawi said
of al-Maliki's government, which like the parliament
is dominated by Shiites. "What we have is a biased,
sectarian-based political process which is damaging
"I'm definitely trying to pull together an alliance of
moderates in Iraq. I strongly believe that
sectarianism and terrorism are both signs of
extremism. And really what we need in Iraq, as well as
the region, is the creation of moderate camps," Allawi
said, coming as close as he would to saying whether he
wanted a second term as prime minister.
He said the U.S., forced into backing al-Maliki
through the democratic process Washington established
in Iraq, will never achieve its objectives as long as
it remains tied to the highly sectarian Shiite
But his chances of effecting change in the "current
structure" are negligible unless the government falls
and parliament is dismissed, on American orders, to
form a national salvation government with him as a
strongman leader to restore order.
Al-Maliki aides have said they fear that could happen
if the government is unable to meet U.S.-set
benchmarks by June 30, when the current parliament
term ends. But that would be a difficult move for the
Americans, who have insisted they are determined to
promote democracy in Iraq.
Allawi says the problems that exist now were of the
United States' creation.
"I always thought that the first steps toward
democracy were not to have elections. The first steps
are (to create) the rule of law and a bill of rights
for the people. That would pave the way for full-blown
democracy," he said.
But Allawi's distaste for the U.S. pressure to quickly
hold elections may arise from the drubbing he took
from the Shiite religious parties. Now he's again
placing himself in the public spotlight, particularly
with his trip recently to Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
and Jordan all predominantly Sunni countries
concerned about the fate of fellow Sunnis in Iraq.
Allawi, a Shiite who is an outcast among his own sect
because of his secular policies, appears to be trying
to rebuild his stature on a Sunni foundation.