So there are definitely foreign elements coming from many sides of the Iraqi borders and of course these people do not like Mr. Maliki’s government. I mean let me say frankly that they do not like to have Shia government in Iraq. They never liked it. Of course they act against it.”An Iraq affairs expert tells Press TV that foreign elements are ‘definitely’ involved in the anti-government demonstrations in Iraq. Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of former finance minister, Rafie al-Issawi, were arrested on terrorism-related charges. The demonstrators allege that the arrests were made on sectarian grounds and demand an end to anti-terrorism laws. However, the government says it is up to the parliament to decide on abolishing those laws. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had previously warned anti-government protesters that security forces could intervene to end illegal demonstrations across the country. He had also warned against foreign interference, saying it would push the country toward sectarian violence. Press TV has conducted an interview with Hadi Hassan, Iraq affairs expert in London, to further talk over the issue. The video also offers the opinions of one additional guest: Sa’ad al-Muttalibi from the State of Law Coalition in Baghdad. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: What do you think? Are there countries that are promoting sectarianism in Syria also having a hand in Iraq? Hassan: Well, I think so. I mean there are foreign elements playing role in Iraq. There is no question about that, but let me say that there is an action and reaction in here. First of all, I am very worried about the situation in Iraq that is becoming dangerous. When these people, the protesters, started last year, the government said harsh words about them and of course there was a reaction to that by the protesters and these sectarian words in fact used by the protesters and continued to use these words. I am not surprised to see some elements of the Ba’ath Party, the remnants of the Ba’ath Party and also of the al-Qaeda. But I thought Mr. Maliki should have been more wise in using his words towards these people but it continued the situation, action and reaction and both of them in fact are wrong until we reached a situation three days ago when there was killing among the civilians and among the army and that made the situation very volatile, very dangerous and the government needs to act very quickly to calm the situation. Press TV: Both guests here agree that there are foreign hands at play in Iraq. Which foreign hands? The countries that have been alleged are Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Tell us about Turkey. Iraqi Minister of Education, Ali Adeeb, has said, “A Turkish invasion of Iraq is taking place.” Tell us in what ways Turkey is doing that. Hassan: I think Turkey is involved in this and we know Turkey is always criticizing the politics of the Iraqi government. This is one known fact. And of course we have a long border with Turkey but on the other hand, beside Turkey, Qatar is also playing a role and Saudi Arabia and as your guest from Baghdad said, people coming from Syria, al-Qaeda and so on.
So there are definitely foreign elements coming from many sides of the Iraqi borders and of course these people do not like Mr. Maliki’s government. I mean let me say frankly that they do not like to have Shia government in Iraq. They never liked it. Of course they act against it.Because of that the Iraqi government headed by Mr. Maliki should be very careful and should be very wise and to use wise means to get the Iraqis out of those foreign elements acting with them and to convince them that it is not a sectarian government; it is not marginalizing the Sunnis. The government should use different means. Press TV: Let me pose the two of the questions by the viewers on our Facebook page to Hadi Hassan. Isn’t it surprising that some of the protesting camps are calling for an end to anti-terrorist laws? I mean here we have a country in which victims and civilians are being killed by terrorists and some are of course blaming al-Qaeda for it. Hassan: No question about it. There are some terrorist acts committed in Iraq by some elements of course. I mean this is one known to the people and one known to the government. But as I said before, the government should be careful how to use the means to get these elements out of the general public in Iraq. Press TV: What is the end game for the US in all of this? Hassan: Probably the US does not mind to have chaos in Iraq. Therefore, that would be an excuse for the United States to come again to Iraq probably or it does not mind that Iraq is divided into three states or regional states. This is why its stance is suspicious in fact, as your guest said. Press TV: Hadi Hassan, our guest in Baghdad says there is over 50 percent support for Maliki government. Do you agree? Hassan: Let me say this. I think Mr. Maliki should contain the situation now at the moment; otherwise it is possible the government could topple him. I mean if the Kurds and the Iraqiyya and the Sadrists get together, they might topple him. But what I suggest is that he should convene a national committee which includes the heads of the tribes and the army and the officials of the Iraqi government so that they try to solve the problem. Press TV: When you talk about a ‘coup’, how much of a possibility do you give it when you mention that word? Hassan: No, a national committee to get its members from the tribes, from Anbar and other places, from the Sunnis and from the army and from the government, I think, as soon as possible, otherwise the situation is volatile and it is getting dangerous. Press TV: Does the fact that the religious legitimacy of the war on Syria and the increase of the Western back and some of the regional countries funding to these insurgents almost unquestionably benefit al-Qaeda inside Iraq and therefore the fall of the Syrian government were to happen would benefit al-Qaeda inside Iraq which are said to be behind some of these acts of terrorism inside Iraq? Hassan: Well, of course there is a connection and link between al-Qaeda in Syria, particularly al-Nusra and other groups, and al-Qaeda in Iraq. There is no question about it and the Syrian elements of al-Qaeda are helping those elements in Iraq and this is why we see they are more active now. But I must add to that that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and his followers are also supporting al-Qaeda and they are becoming a bit stronger and are getting to more areas than before at the moment. MSK/HSN