Q&A: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Shiite Leader
Thursday, December 7, 2006; 6:19 PM
On Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, met with several editors and reporters of The Washington Post. Following are excerpts of his answers to questions about the ongoing conflict in Iraq, as translated from Arabic.
On the Iraq Study Group's recommendations:
"I think that the strategic or the general issues are close or near from the vision of the Iraqi government...Some evaluations to the situation as well are inaccurate. [It] didn't mention the great positive achievements [that] were made in Iraq -- historical, great achievements. The great changes from dictatorship towards freedom and democracy, the approval for the constitution by the Iraqi people, giving the rights for women and putting the rights of the minorities in the constitution and working through the previous three years on the principals of partnership and consensus inside the government. I think such issues were so important and deserve to be mentioned." More: Audio Excerpt
On obstacles to reconciliation in Iraq:
"There are the groups, those who are the enemies of Iraq -- the Saddamists, those are the loyalists for Saddam, and the takfiris, the extremists... [They] don't accept anything which has been achieved and they want to go back to point zero. And if we got back to that point zero, they want to impose their will on the Iraqi people. Those cannot be reconciliated with. Most of or the majority of the terrorist activities and attacks happening in Iraq are because of those groups. And in the same those are standing behind the actions of waging a sectarian sedition or a war inside Iraq. But the relations amongst the Iraqi people [are] good." More: Audio Excerpt
On the source of sectarian violence:
"The killing on sectarian basis exists now in Iraq. And those who are standing behind that and waging its fire are the takfiri groups, those considered the Shiites as disbelievers and they gave the permission to kill them and shed their blood...after that they considered the Sunnis as disbelievers. Those who participated in the political process, they considered them as rejectors from Islam. And they considered the Kurds as well as disbelievers, and they considered them as traitors and [that] they should all be killed. In brief, there are enemies for Iraq, those are the groups for the takfiris and the Saddamists..."
"Bin Laden personally, in his voice, he said that...whoever participated in the elections would be considered as a disbeliever, whoever was participating... should be killed, as if he gave a judgment on a whole nation to be killed. Because it's known that millions of people went out and participated in the elections, from Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians and a whole nation." More: Audio Excerpt
On relations with Iran:
"We have strong insistence to have strong relations with both the U.S. and Iran. We do have strong relations with Iran. Iran stood beside the Iraqi people for a quarter of a century, stood beside the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds and even the Christians and whoever went there, they opened their doors and they supported the groups. This is why such behavior or positions could not be forgotten. The United States is a great country; they are also present in Iraq. We are demanding a real partnership and understanding and strong relations for the interests of the Iraqis." More: Audio Excerpt
On Prime Minister Nouri Maliki:
"As the head of the armed forces, he needs the ability to control or to move the forces so that he can face the security challenges. He needs also cooperation from the political parties and groups. For more than one time he said that the problem in Iraq is a political problem not a sectarian or a religious [one]. Of course it's also a security problem as a result of the political problem." More: Audio Excerpt