Arbil, Apr 6, (VOI) – Former Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi said matters in Iraq "are getting out of the authority's hands five years after changing the former regime," warning that "the political quota system and militia policies would double the bloodshed in the country."
"Iraq, after five years, is still a state without institutions. The militias continue to pervade the government machinery and the political quota system is still the key factor in the government's activities," Allawi, the leader of the Iraqi National List (INL), told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) in an interview on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The INL, a party of a secularist orientation, occupies 19 out of a total 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament. The bloc is the fifth largest after the Shiite Unified Iraqi Coalition (UIC), the Kurdistan Coalition (KC), the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF) and the Sadrist bloc, or Iraqis loyal to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
"These entities, whether inside or outside the state apparatus, are illegal, and their emergence is a logical outcome of the militia policies," he said.
Allawi explained that the recent clashes in the city of Basra and other southern Iraqi provinces between the government forces and armed groups a couple of weeks ago were the "results of previous mistakes," noting he personally supported the "rule of law and order."
Allawi's INL had withdrawn its five ministers from the government of incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in August 2007 due to what he considered as Maliki "ignoring" proposals to reform the political process.
Allawi had taken over as prime minister of Iraq's transitional government in mid-2004 after the departure of U.S. Civil Administrator Paul Bremer, who ran affairs in Iraq weeks after the U.S. forces unseated the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"It is not a coincidence that security conditions in Basra and other provinces are unstable five years after the change," he said, adding he had warned of a "civil strife."
"When I was in the provisional governing council, I wrote an article in which I warned against dissolving the state institutions and the de-Baathification as well as sectarianism. When I received my duties as premier, I tried to avoid these problems," he said.
Allawi was one of 25 members of the so-called Iraq governing council, set up by Bremer months after the coalition forces occupied the country. The council was disbanded in mid-2004 after the formation of the transitional Iraqi government.
"The security agencies are incapable of maintaining security and the government organizations are falling short in providing socio-economic services," he said.
Allawi viewed the toppling of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a "historic event" but was followed by "political failures," adding "matters were going from bad to worse: the services are totally off and security conditions are still deteriorating."
He believes that there were "four strategic mistakes" committed during and before those past five years that caused the aggravating conditions in Iraq.
"The first of these mistakes was the absence of a clear post-war policy, including the question of setting up a national Iraqi government. The second was the disbanding of Iraq's institutions, whether directly, such as with the army and the police, or indirectly like the ruling Baath Party. The third was the sectarian quota system adopted by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the formation of a governing council on that basis," said Allawi.
Bremer had issued a still-controversial decision in early May 2003 to disband the Iraqi army, security agencies, the Information Ministry, and the Baath Party. Bremer also banned the Baathists from any political activities or government positions.
"The fourth mistake was to remain silent over regional interference in Iraq's internal affairs until it became part of the Iraqi reality," he said.
On whether these mistakes should be blamed on the U.S. side or Iraq politicians, Allawi said "both are to blame," indicating that the Iraqi political powers and the United States, which committed strategic mistakes, are both responsible.
"Definitely there was a misunderstanding between the two sides since the very beginning. Bremer should not be blamed. He was representing the U.S. policies in Iraq and accordingly he acted in line with these policies, although he managed to maintain a razor-thin margin of independence," he explained.
"Bremer's decisions, contrary to what some might believe, were not individual. It was true that he committed some individual mistakes but he was actually implementing U.S. policies."
Allawi accused the United States of causing several complications by "decisions to dismantle the state."
He said Bremer "contacted all political leaders, including myself, and asked whether we wanted to form a national government. I asked him two questions: one about the financial, security and military might of this government and the other about the beginning and end of its powers. He replied that he had no answer for these two questions."
According to Allawi, this mirrored "zero clarity in the U.S. stance as far as arrangement of affairs in Iraq was concerned."
On whether the political powers then had an opinion in that state of affairs, Allawi replied that the political leaders have adopted "significant decisions before the war and had a vision about what Iraq should be after the war."
"Unfortunately, the United States did not leave much space for the opposition leaders to carry out its projects in a national government," he said.
Allawi's National Accordance Movement (NAM), the most prominent group within his INL, was one of the Iraqi opposition factions in exile. He attended opposition congresses held in London.