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Allawi criticizes U.S., Maliki

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070331/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_allawi Former Iraqi premier criticizes U.S. By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 37
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2007

      Former Iraqi premier criticizes U.S.

      By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 37
      minutes ago

      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
      years ago.

      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
      struggling government.

      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
      the country."

      "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.
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