Iraqi Sunni Leader Insists On Strong Guarantees In Exchange For Weapons Transfers From US To Baghdad
The leader of the al Arabiya Bloc and Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Salah Mutlaq today returned from a week of talks with policy-makers in the United States about their intentions to sell advanced weapons to the current government of Nuri al-Maliki, which has asked Washington for Apache helicopters, Hellfire missiles and other advanced weaponry in what it maintains to be a campaign against al Qaeda-linked terror groups operating inside Iraq.
“I was very clear with those whom I met in Washington,” Mutlaq explained on his return to Iraq. “While we believe strengthening a professional and secular Iraqi army is critical to recovering the kind of security we once knew, today there is a wide reality gap between such an idea and what we actually see on the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Baquba, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul, and cities throughout Iraq,” Mutlaq said. “We need solid guarantees such weapons will not be used against Iraqi citizens, and that the government that receives them will respect the will of the voters when an election comes in four months time,” he added.
On Friday, Mutlaq handed U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns a list of five conditions (Attachment 1, below) that would be necessary for such an arms transfer to meet its stated purpose. He also stressed the need for conditionality with U.S. Senator John McCain, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator Jim Donnelly, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Ed Royce, and U.S. Representative Eliot Engel. (See McCain’s statement – Attachment 2)
In these meetings, Mutlaq urged the senior members of Congressional leadership to distinguish between the simplistic story of terrorists versus an embattled Iraqi government and the more complicated reality of an oppressed people demanding dignity lashing out when democratic options have been repeatedly denied to them. Mutlaq’s conditions, which include guarantees not to use the weapons against Iraqi citizens, commitment to military reform, acceptance of demands of demonstrators over the past year, a pledge to improve the electoral environment, and movement on a process of political reconciliation are, Mutlaq explained, both appropriate and practical.
During a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Mutlaq said the United States had a legal and moral obligation to help Iraq rebuild after the role American invasion and occupation had played in destroying the country. The United States could play a constructive role by urging those parties who owe their current positions in Iraq to the support they received from the American government over the past decade to engage in a process of political reconciliation.
“The April elections will be a key test for us,” Mutlaq added, stressing that “we need to make the coming elections are freer and fairer than the governorate elections held last year and to let all Iraqi citizens exercise their right to choose without fear or intimidation from authorities.”
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Attachment 1 (Below): Framework of Conditions to be attached to U.S. arms sale to Iraq
Attachment 2 (Link): Statement by U.S. Senator John McCain on his meeting with DPM Saleh Mutlaq
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Framework of Conditions
This is a general outlining our priorities for conditionality of any major arms transfer to the current Iraqi government:
1. Guarantee weapons systems will not be used against Iraqi citizens, monitoring to be conducted by internationally-recognized human rights organizations;
2. Commitment from the Government of Iraq for military reform, focused on both the composition of the enlisted forces and the officers corps to improve the demographic balance so it more accurately reflects the population of Iraq. For the officer corps, introduce new merit-based recruitment and promotion system;
3. Concessions in line with demands of protestors, specifically on issues of de-Ba’athification, amnesty, and a thorough review of those held in pre-trial detention w/o due process leading to the release of those held on no evidentiary basis;
4. Commitment to improve pre-electoral environment, actively restrain the abuse of administrative resources, and abide by the outcome of the election once it is deemed free and fair; and
5. Identify an external mediator for a concrete process of political reconciliation to begin immediately and achieve concrete, preliminary initial results before the election.
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