Allawi says Iran ‘swal­low­ing’ Iraq af­ter win­ning U.S. war

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY BEN BIRN­BAUM

Iraq’s for­mer prime min­is­ter says the United States is ig­nor­ing an “emerg­ing dic­ta­tor­ship” in his coun­try, telling The Washington Times that Iran is “swal­low­ing” Iraq and dic­tat­ing its strate­gic poli­cies. Ayad Allawi, who served as prime min­is­ter from 2004 to 2005, ac­cused Iran of med­dling in Iraqi pol­i­tics to the point that Tehran “is be­com­ing the dom­i­nant fea­ture of Iraq,” and claimed that some U.S. of­fi­cials “con­cede se­cretly” that “Iran won, got the best ad­van­tage of what hap­pened in Iraq.”

Mr. Allawi made the com­ments amid po­lit­i­cal and civil up­heaval in the wake of the with­drawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in De­cem­ber. At least 52 Iraqis were killed Tues­day in bomb at­tacks across the coun­try, and Iraq’s vice pres­i­dent is elud­ing ar­rest on ter­ror­ist charges that are

widely seen as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Mean­while, al Qaeda at­tacks like those Tues­day have raised ques­tions about Iraq’s in­ter­nal se­cu­rity as Bagh­dad pre­pares to host a long-de­layed Arab League sum­mit Tues­day that is ex­pected to ad­dress the threat of a civil war in Syria and messy tran­si­tions in Egypt, Libya and Ye­men.

“To be hon­est, peo­ple speak about Arab Spring,” Mr. Allawi said. “What spring is this?

“Spring is as­so­ci­ated with green, re­newal of life. We are hav­ing blood pour­ing ev­ery­where in the re­gion and destruc­tion and dis­mem­ber­ment of coun­tries, and chaos is hap­pen­ing.”

Bro­ken deal

north.

Mr. Allawi said he is con­sult­ing with other power play­ers, in­clud­ing rad­i­cal Shi­ite cleric Muq­tada al-sadr, about next steps.

He sug­gested three ways out of the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis: early elec­tions, “full­blown part­ner­ship” or re­place­ment of Mr. al-ma­liki with an­other premier from the rul­ing Na­tional Al­liance. If none of this oc­curs, he said, he would en­cour­age coun­try­wide “peace­ful demon­stra­tions” against the gov­ern­ment.

‘Iran won’

Mr. al-ma­liki’s Shi­ite-led gov­ern­ment has long been ac­cused of tilt­ing to­ward its pow­er­ful neigh­bor, Iran — the ob­ject of Western sanc­tions over its se­cre­tive nu­clear pro­gram, which Ira­nian of­fi­cials deny is geared for mak­ing a weapon.

Mr. Allawi as­sailed Iran’s med­dling in Iraqi pol­i­tics, say­ing the Is­lamic repub­lic has be­gun “swal­low­ing Iraq and is be­com­ing the dom­i­nant fea­ture of Iraq.” He said some Amer­i­can of­fi­cials “con­cede se­cretly” that “Iran won, got the best ad­van­tage of what hap­pened in Iraq.”

He also said a mil­i­tary strike on Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties should be “abol­ished as an idea” be­cause it would cause re­gional in­sta­bil­ity. But he added that Iran’s regime “needs to ei­ther change its be­hav­ior com­pletely, sig­nif­i­cantly, rad­i­cally, or the regime needs to be changed.”

Mr. Allawi said he hopes di­a­logue with Iran could per­suade its lead­ers to take a new course.

“If they don’t, then it is im­por­tant to sup­port the op­po­si­tion in­side Iran — to sup­port them po­lit­i­cally, to sup­port them with their me­dia, to sup­port them in any pos­si­ble way, to give them ac­knowl­edg­ment, to give them po­lit­i­cal as­sur­ances, to give them po­lit­i­cal sup­port in in­ter­na­tional fo­rums,” he said.

He said that ap­proach would mir­ror the one he rec­om­mended to U.S. pol­i­cy­mak­ers in the run-up to the Iraq War.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there were pol­i­cy­mak­ers who were say­ing that the so­lu­tion is re­moval of Sad­dam [Hus­sein] by force and im­me­di­ately push­ing a but­ton and cre­at­ing democ­racy in the coun­try,” Mr. Allawi said. “And we have seen now, it’s the 10th year, and we don’t have democ­racy. In fact, we have an emerg­ing dic­ta­tor­ship.”

Mr. Allawi de­murred when asked whether he would head Iraqiya in the next elec­tions, ten­ta­tively slated for 2014. “I don’t know; it de­pends,” he said. “Maybe I’ll be ar­rested by the gov­ern­ment or killed or as­sas­si­nated.”

Ayad Allawi

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