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Iraqi People Are Waking Up

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TEHRAN, May 26 (ICANA) – Demonstrators have gathered in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to protest against US attempts to prolong its military presence in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline.
Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:51:18 PM
Iraqi People Are Waking Up

The leader of Iraq's Sadr Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, was among the officials who attended the demonstration to show unity with the people of Iraq.

Press TV interviewed Maher Salloum, a political analyst in Beirut, concerning the recent protest held in the capital.

Q: How do you understand this recent movement in Iraq that has started, and has triggered actually, by the parade of the Sadr loyalists?

Salloum: This is an enormous reaction by one of the leaders which is Muqtada [al-]Sadr and his movement, for sure, in Iraq, and this what pure democracy is being correlated to this situation inside Iraq.

Now the invasion in 2003 has already led to this moment and the people are waking, I think, in Sayed Muqtada al-Sadr and his very important speech today, as well as we have heard in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's important speech in retaliation to the Americans and the Israelis [and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu inside the Congress of the US.

Now, what we are witnessing inside the Arab world is a revolution against the totalitarian systems, suppression by the Americans and by their agents. Let's say, in the past, whether in Egypt, in Tunisia, even in Libya and [Muammar] Gaddafi, they are fighting against them, but they are all puppets inside the Libyan soil. And today you are witnessing a huge transformation towards a better representation towards the people, and they are asking the withdrawal of the American troops from the lands of Iraq, which is an Arab and Muslim land, and we truly support this as a human rights activist myself, and as a political analyst today in the Arab world.

Q: Ok Maher, from what you're seeing on the screen right now, those people who are in the parade, they are carrying no guns.

Many of them could be ordinary people; many of them could be people who have been previously with the Mahdi Army. There has been not too much of the language of threat in the air, but a little bit of that at least the move itself will well indicate to the American troops in Iraq that there is a well organized army within this people that can punch back at you if you are still willing to remain the country, come December 31st. Do you think that the situation really needs to get that ugly?

Salloum: Well, I don't think so, this is connected to the government, and he has a good connection with the prime minster himself, but not that confident you know. And between himself, I mean Muqtada al-Sadr and the Americans, I don't think there is a good confidence here, there is a lack of confidence.

But do not forget the situation, when he was really suppressed and they wanted him to go outside the land of Iraq, and this was his own land! And he was in exile. Now coming back to Iraq, I think of he is much more confident and the people are all around him and he has a lot of popularity in major parts of Iraq, in the south, in the west, and even in the mid-central of Baghdad, and let us be sure that Sayed Muqtada is one of those leaders, politically and religiously, that can be followed inside Iraq and he has huge work today to say against what could be the invasion of Iraq so far and against the new colonization of the west inside Iraq and inside the Arab world.

And now what we are witnessing inside the Arab world my friends, it is a new colonization, if not a true revolution against those dictatorships in support of the Arab world today.

Let us wait and see for the huge speech today for Sayed Muqtada, and we can actually analyze what would happen in Iraq, hopefully.

Q: But I'm sure, like you agree, many people say that the return of Muqtada Sadr, not only to Iraq, but to Iraq's political scene and his presence in the southern city is a very significant move. Would you share that thought?

Salloum: Yes, this is a huge significant move, because he is part of the whole political world inside Iraq, and he has a major popularity inside Iraq, and he has built a strong army, which is Mahdi Army. He believes in descending of Iraq in any invasion of western army inside Iraq, his territory I mean, his old properties actually. But what he looks for, maybe, in collaborating or in assisting could be Hezbollah in the move against liberating Palestine one day, because this is one of his deepest thoughts and philosophy, and as Muslims, we believe we need our own independence, our own sovereignty, our own freedom of expression. And this is what the Qur'an has given to us, but it seems as the West has a double-standard in applying those democratic values, and governors of democracy in our own Arab world today.

This is the continuance of the play that has started under Condoleezza Rice, the ex-[US] Secretary of State under George W. Bush, and today under Mrs. Hillary Clinton, that this is the new Middle East.

Unfortunately, this is not the Middle East that we have been choosing to adapt to the new system in the whole world, actually in the Middle East and the Arab world. What we need is as our freedom of expression, our freedom of thought, our freedom of choosing our own constitution, our own parliament, our own government in Iraq, whether it's in Iraq or any state in the Arab world. And we need to fight corruption, and let the people of Iraq choose their own opportunities, and hopefully more job opportunities for the use of Iraq, for water dams for them, because they are in the upmost needs today, because Iraq is witnessing a dry condition economically and geographically. And even in the important tribal [areas] in Baghdad or around the major cities in Iraq.

Q: Maher, this is some view that is shared by many today. Muqtada Sadr in of his earlier comments had said that he is not 100 percent totally against the presences of the troops in the country.

It seems to me that, it's more than having to do with merely the presence of foreign troops in the country. He also sometimes, refers to the type, the kind, and nature of the agreement that he might have with [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki government.

He hinted after a sermon, this month, that he could be persuaded to agree to letting some troops remain if the extension was part of a broader political agreement between Sadrists and Maliki, did you hear that? How do you see it?

Salloum: Well, in case Maliki agreed to this condition by the Americans, they need consensus to help themselves and Muqtada Sadr, I believe this could be his two consensus between two major factions under the Maliki party and the party of Muqtada Sadr and his movement.

Now today, if he was this ... he couldn't agree to that show up between his own people inside Iraq. So he needs to be very cautious, and not to be thoroughly confident, and confident of the American troops inside of Iraq, because he is still a target, and could be a target by the Americans in case he was threatening, strategically, the Americans inside Iraq.

This is what we ought to look at, when we are considering any American involvement or any government that is related such as Maliki with the West and specifically the Americans here.

Q: How do you see it to the benefit of the Iraqi people for those troops to remain in Iraq, at least 20,000 of them, because now their numbers is around 46-47,000?

How necessary do you think it is for Iraq, given the security situation and the challenges that lay ahead for Iraq today? How necessary would you really think the presence of American troop in Iraq should be and is, actually?

Salloum: Well, it was necessary or important in a certain period of time. But I do not believe the Americans have given security, I mean by itself, food security, water security, economic opportunities for Iraqis themselves, still the Iraqis have not shown independence, economically and philosophically, let's say, the political atmosphere still in Iraq is not safe enough to act as an independent state, unless the Americans will withdraw their troops from the Iraq soil, and let the Iraqis choose their own parliament without under no pressure by the Americans or any foreign interference inside Iraq.

So we ought to look for consensus, hopefully, and dialogue between all major political factions inside Iraq, whether it is Muqtada Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki, Mr. Iyad Allawi [Former Iraqi Prime Minister], and all major political factions under the state of Iraq today.

Q: How beneficial would you say this deal might be, in case it is reached, might be for the group itself, the Sadr movement and for the Iraqi government, and basically for the security of Iraq?

Salloum: Well, this is an excellent question. I believe the basic security of Iraq needs this consensus of dialogue of the major political factions that they have been fighting for, maybe, the positions, the top positions or the top government positions inside Iraq today. We have witnessed this between Allawi and Maliki, to parties. They were battling for their own positions inside of Iraq, politically I'm saying.

Now speaking of security measures, so far by the Iraqi government, [they] have been successful, not to a strong measure, but to a certain depth where we have been witnessing lesser car bombs and lesser explosions against governmental institution or against American troops inside Iraq, and this has given assurance and re-assurance to the Americans themselves and to the Iraqi prime minster and his government, I mean Maliki.

Now speaking of security between the two major factions here, the Muqtada Sadr movement and Maliki and his own political party inside Iraq, there needs to be more consensus between both political important figures inside of Iraq, and what they ought to do is to open up a dialogue, which is a national dialogue between all parties and hold under the government of Iraq or under the state of Iraq.

Those parties that have not even been represented such as Ba'ath Party, they need to absorb their own powers and try to attract them in order to be a part of a future, maybe consensus towards agreeing upon new consensus and a new dialogue between old factions inside Iraq were political stability can enhance a sect towards security measure, that can give security for the whole state of Iraq and to the new government of Iraq hopefully, in the near future.

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