- Qais Al-Khaz’ali, Asaib Ahlil Haq
- Interviewed by: Ala’a Mustafa, Academic
Qais Al-Khaz’ali opened his conversation by paying tribute to the anniversary of establishing the Asaib Ahlil Haq (AAH) movement, “Twenty years ago today.” Turning his attention to the presence of the Coalition against ISIS in Iraq, Al-Khaz’ali said that Iraqi security forces estimate that there are around 700 ISIS members (250 fighters, and the rest logistic support), so he sees no point in the coalition remaining in Iraq for such low numbers, and wants them to leave.
“AAH played a strong role in resisting the US invasion and fighting ISIS, and the presence of American troops is something we should get over with,” Al-Khaz’ali said. He also told the audience that it has been over one year since any attacks on American bases in Iraq. This is because of an agreement where they stopped targeting US bases until a government is elected in Baghdad who would then hold negotiations with the Americans about their presence in Iraq. He believed that US priorities have shifted away from Iraq, and instead gone towards China and Russia.
“I think that the current US Ambassador to Iraq carries out activities that are more than the required level ,” Al-Khaz’ali said, suggesting that she should be less active in the country, and that the Ambassador is taking this upon herself. “Our door will remain closed to the Americans, as long as the American military presence is here in Iraq,” he said, adding that US influence is declining and Chinese influence is rising, and this will reflect on the Middle East. “Iraq should balance its relationship with the US, China, and Russia.”
Iraq has overcome security challenges “some time ago,” Al-Khaz’ali continued, explaining that the main challenge Iraq now faces is economic. “Iraq needs to create an appropriate environment for offering services to its citizens,” Al-Khaz’ali said. “I am among the Iraqis who believe Iraq can recover.” The main role of Al-Sudani is to restore the confidence and trust of the public, he said, and it is no secret that he was chosen by the Coordination Framework.
In response to a question on opinion on the Kurdistan region, Khazali told the audience that he views the Kurdish partners as brothers, and hopes that they will overcome the situation related to the oil and gas law to reach a good solution. He also stressed that, “as is well known, there is not a single Kurdish voice, nor a single Sunni voice. The Shiite voice is united because the other Shiite voice is quiet, referring to Muqtada al-Sadr’s withdrawal from Iraqi politics. “What I hope is that everyone starts a new beginning, that now is an opportunity for everyone.” We must reach the stage of contentment, not compulsion. Frankly, recent Kurdish positive attitudes are caused by the decisions of the Federal Court or the Court of Paris. I hope that the brothers in the Region will go beyond this, and reach the conviction regarding the clear signals that indicate that the current government and the current political situation is an opportunity for everyone and an opportunity for the Kurdistan Region to overcome previous exhaustions.”
I have a belief that Prime Minister Al-Sudani is sincere in his promises and there is credibility and seriousness in implementing what he promises. The Al-Sudani government is the choice of the Coordination Framework, and I have hope that Iraq will reach the stage of recovery and the Iraqi state will reach the stage of a successful state and overcome the stage of a failed state.”
Iraq Forum: For Stability and Prosperity
Session 5C: State-building in the Eyes of Iraq’s Political Leaders