The political crisis in Iraq has taken a new turn after Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi denied terrorism charges against him as fabricated.
The denial comes a day after the Iraqi interior ministry issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi after three of his bodyguards made confessions of taking orders from the vice president to carry out terrorist attacks in the country over the past years.
In an interview with Press TV, Edward Peck, former chief of the US Mission in Iraq, shares his opinions on the issue.
The video offers the opinions of two additional guests: Entifadh Qanbar, with the Iraqi National Alliance in Beirut and Saad al-Muttalibi who is an Iraqi MP. Below is the approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Regarding the US withdrawal from Iraq and the timing of this, a lot of the media in the West have been referring to that timing and all these accusations were raised just when American forces withdrew. What is your perspective on what is happening in Iraq?
Peck: What is happening in Iraq, forgive me for saying it this way, this is an Iraqi problem and both of the gentlemen who have spoken just now [the other two guests on the show] have given rational reasonable commentary on what is going on and what should happen.
For us, for the Americans, who spent 8 years in Iraq allegedly attempting to help the country deal with its problems and now they are dealing with their problems, their political, their ethnic, their sectarian, their religious, they are motivated by all sorts of things which no American really understands.
I would think that what has happened on the basis of what I have seen here is that you have a situation in which the Vice President Mr. Hashemi has to face the courts. He says he will face them up in Arbil in the semiautonomous Kurdish region; that gentleman says he should come to Iraq and do it there but without all of the hoopla and media coverage that involves people activities.
I noticed that the gentleman from Beirut said that he has to come and prove his innocence and America will put it the other way that we have to prove him guilty if we were the government trying to convict somebody of crimes and I understand what is being said but I really wonder what it is that the United States could, what the United States should do in this matter. This is an Iraqi problem.
We have left them their country and they have to deal with it in the manner that they or the government thinks is the best way and may not seem like that to us. But it is not our country; it is not our problem.
Press TV: Mr. Peck, both our guests are saying that this is a matter of Mr. Hashemi being accused and now he has to defend himself and this is a matter that should be dealt with by the courts. However, there are murmurs of this becoming a sectarian issue of this being even a case of sectarianism in Iraq. How do you see it, because we are hearing a lot in the media now that this could lead to a sectarian issue in Iraq or it already is one?
Peck: This is one of the things that some people -- I am one of them -- urged the American government to think about when they invaded Iraq because as we have seen in other parts of the world -- the former Soviet Union is one of them, Yugoslavia certainly is another one -- where when you take off the top of the government, things begin to come apart and people of different persuasions, political, religious, social, cultural, whatever, begin to seek ways to advance the interests of their group sometimes at the expense of another group which is why you have a Kosovo now and you have all of the countries where Yugoslavia used to be.
Insha'Allah that will not happen in Iraq, but there have already been some signs when the Americans first got there. One of the major problems that they attempted the Iraqi government to deal with was sectarian violence with one group attacking another group and you have several groups there who have done this before.
So, I fear, I am afraid, what has happened is that the American occupation facilitated the rise of sectarianism, not everyone of course but just enough people --that does not take very many-- to generate anger, resentment, resistance, revenge as people try to straighten out what it is that separates them in their own country. I am afraid that part of this will looked upon by many people as --in some respects-- the fault of the American for doing what we did there in Iraq trying to set it up along sectarian lines really.
We facilitated the establishment of the various blocs that have existed in Iraq for such a long time and Mr. Hashemi now represents a bloc; people who are in that bloc will tend to support him, people who are not may tend to attack him verbally or legally or some other way and this is precisely the sort of thing that some expert said was likely to take place, when America toppled the government and spent some years trying to help to rebuild it --in the way that the Americans look at these sorts of things-- not successfully. I am very much afraid.