Any other state is welcome to host the MKO
Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic at 1158 gmt on 16 December carries a 52-minute live or recorded news conference by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the Council of Ministers’ Press Centre in Baghdad;
… Answering a question to the effect that some news agencies and space channels carried "conflicting" statements by the prime minister and the government’s official spokesman on the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, whether this organization will "be moved to the outskirts of Baghdad or to outside Baghdad, and whether this is a prelude to moving it outside the country," Al-Maliki says: "This organization has a bad history in Iraq. It has committed crimes against the Iraqis. The former regime has used it as a security agency. It has committed massacres during Friday prayers in Kifri and Kalar against the Kurds. In the records of many of the world states, it is accused as a terrorist organization. Based on our constitution, policy, and approach, we will never turn Iraq into a headquarters or a passageway for any terrorist organization."
He adds: "Our policy and constitution do not allow us to host any side that causes a crisis with any state in the world. Therefore, we have prevented many sides, which sought to use Iraq as a springboard against Arab states, and we told them that we would never allow this. Based on these introductions, background, and history, and out of protecting Iraq’s unity, security, and sovereignty, this organization has no place in Iraq. These are only preliminary measures to end their existence. We spoke with the world states and told them that we welcome anyone who wants to host them. We will not force this organization to return to Iran or to extradite it to it, but we will not allow an organization, which is accused of terrorism, to stay in Iraq. I do not think there was any contradiction in statements. Moving them from this camp is a prelude to moving them to outside Iraq and to any state that would accept them, or perhaps if they benefit from any pardon, which the Iranian Government would offer them." …
Iraqi prime minister holds news conference on security situation, elections
At the outset of the news conference, Al-Maliki makes a statement, in which he says: "Iraq is witnessing intensive action these days. [Words missing because of interruption in the link] the criminal acts, which the elements of Al-Qa’idah and the Ba’th Party have carried out. The goals, which these sides want to achieve in Iraq, are clear. They want to obstruct the elections, disrupt the political and democratic process, and make the Iraqis feel that the experience has failed, and therefore, they have to search for an alternative. Their proposed alternative is the Ba’thist alternative or the extremist sectarian alternative by Al-Qa’idah. They also want to take Iraq backward. These plans and schemes are not conceived on the spur of the moment, but they have existed from the very beginning. They have promised their supporters time and again that they will achieve their goals through the return of the buried regime and by foiling the democratic experience. The will of the Iraqi people and the good political forces, however, was firm and strong. It has faced huge challenges and has overcome them."
Al-Maliki then reviews the security situation over the past years, and explains how Baghdad "was isolated" from the other governorates and the neighbouring states. He adds: "The result, however, providing you are witnesses to this and the whole world can see how Iraq switched from missing security to a security situation in which the citizens move freely. The people now go out during festivals and occasions and for visits. The streets are now crowded with cars and movement. This indicates a healthy situation. This also shows that Iraq has restored its normal situation on the political, regional, and international levels, and has quickly taken advanced positions. This is represented in the international companies’ arrival in Iraq. These companies would not have come to Iraq had there not been security, which helps the investment process. Definitely, this was not achieved spontaneously or by luck, but it was achieved based on planning and a drawn security strategy and not as some sides regrettably say. I hope that the security process will be viewed in a realistic way to the effect that what was achieved was the outcome of a policy, a carefully planned policy, which moved in steps.
"These steps began with the Law Enforcement Plan in Baghdad. They then extended to the other areas. Baghdad then was divided into sectors to deploy military units in these sectors. This was also accompanied by the national reconciliation process in order to create an incubator for the security agencies to help them accomplish their big tasks and face the serious challenges. Thus, this strategy included a host of measures. I regret to hear or read that some sides say that there is no security strategy or a security philosophy in Iraq. I ask these sides how security was achieved in a way, which allowed you to move freely in the street?"
Al-Maliki says: "When the enemy is immoral, trained, and supported, such robberies take place and some security agencies might be inattentive. However, when we compare this to the size of challenge that Iraq has faced and to the unlimited support and the capabilities, which the terrorists inherited from the buried regime, we will realize that it is only natural that such incidents, which we do not accept, take place. We are pained by the shedding of any drop of the blood of any innocent Iraqi citizen in any area in Iraq. However, this is a battle with sides, which have no morals or values. These sides are indulged in the hope of returning through gates of blood or by creating such atmospheres. To stick a bomb to a citizen’s car or park a boobytrapped car in a public square has nothing to do with manhood. This is our enemy. When it is so fierce and immoral, such acts take place. This is what they call a breached security."
He adds: "Thanks to the zeal of the men and fighters of the sons of the Armed Forces, police, security forces, and citizens, Al-Fadl area was reopened, the Haifa Street is restored, Al-Ghazaliyah has returned, and the situation in all Baghdad areas has returned to normal. The displaced people have also returned home. This is the main element and the main axis in the security strategy, which has been achieved."
He says: "After terrorism and the terrorists have become unable to occupy one inch of the land of Iraq to establish camps, prisons, training centres on it, and education and cultural centres, which advocate rancour, sectarianism, and hatred, we have become in front of a new development. The previous course will continue. The strategy does not change completely, as those who are ignorant of the security process, say. The strategy will remain there; the military, police, and army forces will continue to be there; the checkpoints will remain there; and pursuits and storming campaigns will continue. However, there is a constant part in the strategy and the plan and there is a moving part. We began to reactivate the moving part of the strategic military plan, which is based on the security and intelligence effort, by forming a joint coordination committee for the security and intelligence agencies, by reactivating the citizens’ role, and by reactivating the security directorates and institutions at the security ministries. This is because terrorism has now remained as hidden elements and cells, which require information to arrest them and fill prisons of them same as the streets were full of them when they used to resist the police and the army. Therefore, this is the moving part of the strategic theory, which all sides should understand."
Al-Maliki adds: "There have been painful blows to the Al-Qa’idah and Ba’th Party organizations. However, their internal instructions prevented their supporters from talking about these blows and arrests, which are continuing, and which will continue until we exhaust all their efforts. Regrettably, however, breaches will continue here and there. We hope that the relationship between the citizens and the security agencies will be promoted significantly in order to achieve the required goals. The Council of Ministers yesterday made decisions, which include giving a grant and a gift to anyone who guides to a boobytrapped car. The value of the grant and the gift totals 100 million dinars.
"These are some of the measures, and there are other measures. Here, however, I would like to speak clearly and frankly and say that the security work, plans, strategies, and any piece of information related to security are not allowed to anyone who wants to speak about this issue. The thing, which the states care for more than anything else, is their military and security secrets."
He says: "Battles erupt among states when someone attempts to breach the military establishment to obtain some information. However, very regrettably, at this stage, and frankly, for some reasons and political and election propaganda purposes, the security information was seized. Thus, this has rendered a great service to the enemy to the effect that it now has information about numbers, plans, funds, problems, weakness, and strength. It exploits the weakness and knows how to evade strength. This has happened. It is regrettable and painful. The whole world is now astonished at how the Iraqis talk about their security and security institutions in this way, which is open to the media."
Al-Maliki says that the Council of Representatives "has the right to summon and interrogate" others. However, he adds, the objective is to "reach results and not to divulge secrets." He says: "Regarding the security aspect in particular, the Security and Defence Committee [of the Council of Representative] should be the side that assumes this responsibility. It should meet with the security officials to discuss with them plans and methods and reach agreements with them away from the media. This is because the media should not talk about security. Regrettable, this has become one of the main issues in the news media and the space channels, even the Iraqi media. They now host this and that, and the politicians, both those who have something to do and those have not anything to do with the process. They speak, defame, divulge what they know, and confuse the Iraqi citizen. I call on the Iraqi citizen to trust the security and military agencies. This effort is continuing and escalating. Despite the fact that the challenge is big and serious, there will be no retreat. We will never reach a situation in which we have a missing security, as some sides say, but what we talk about here are terrorist cells and about how we should eliminate them through cooperation and openness between the security agencies and citizens.
"I also tell all partners in the political process, as I have previously said, that they should not be indifferent to this issue. You can talk about any issue, economy, agriculture, industry, and education. However, you should be cautious when you talk about security activity. You should recall how Iraq was, and how we used to reap the effects of the hateful sectarianism, which some state institutions used to feed, and how people were beheaded in the streets. Do not belittle this issue. This is because, it will return, and if it returns, it will not benefit those who believe that through confusion, they can achieve victory or obtain a vote here and another there. Let us put the higher interests and the blood of Iraqi citizens above one-upmanship and elections. Compete with each other, providing competition is legitimate, but competition should not take place at the expense of the Iraqi blood and security, which, if was lost again, may God forbid, no one would benefit from this. What was achieved for the citizens, in terms of relaxation, joy, happiness, communication, and openness, would also be lost. Thus, all the political forces will be responsible for this if they do not live up to their responsibilities."
Al-Maliki calls on the citizens and the political forces to appreciate the "great achievements" of the police, security, and army forces. He adds that these "segments, which offered tens of thousands of martyrs to provide us with this security and life, should not be targeted."
He says: "I also address states and call on all of them to support Iraq, and not Iraq only, but all the states, which experience such crisis of fighting terrorism. These states should adopt a responsible position, just as all sides confront the dangers of epidemics, Swine Flu and other diseases. Terrorism is more dangerous than Swine Flu. All sides should do this. Some sides should not stand idly watching and other sides should not provide facilities to these [terrorist]."
He adds: "This is in order to pursue our path, strategy, and course. I insist on the carefully planned policy, which the world has admitted. To those who say that there is no strategy, I say that an institute for military academic studies has put the Iraqi experience on fighting terrorism with all its dimensions as one of its studies on the qualitative experience of confronting the fiercest form of terrorism in a new state, which emerged from dictatorship and entered into the presence of international forces, terrorist invasion, and elements affiliated with the buried regime."
Al-Maliki says: "Once again, brothers, I say, compete with each other and we will compete with you, but put security aside and put the Iraqis’ blood aside. Let the country achieve stability in order to arrive at the stage of reconstruction, building, services, stability, and relaxation, which the citizens should get. The Iraqis have become tired. Since 1980, they have been experiencing wars, adventures, occupation, terrorism, oppression, killing, Al-Anfal, chemical weapons, and mass graves. Let the Iraqis relax. Brothers, you should all live up to your responsibilities, media men and politicians. You should take this fact into consideration. This is because the result will not affect one party without the other, but it will affect the entire temple, which will collapse on those under it once again, as I have previously said. However, I stress that with the zeal of the sons of the Armed Forces, police, and the security forces, we will not allow this temple to collapse, and we will not allow anyone to destroy the temple once again, through which Iraq and the Iraqis have restored their honour. We will take measures to protect the achievements that have been made on the political, security, and economic levels and in all fields."
Concluding his statement, Al-Maliki adds: "I address my messages to all those who are concerned about Iraq, of the sons of the Armed Forces, citizens, political forces, and state institutions, and tell them to cooperate with us within this framework because it is a red line and tampering with it means tampering with the issues that are directly related to public interests and to the citizens’ life."
Al-Maliki then begins to take press questions.
Answering a question to the effect that some sides "confuse" the deteriorating security situation with the "breached security," and whether the security incidents "affect the withdrawal of the US forces based on the agreement" between the two sides, Al-Maliki says: "Breached security exists in the whole world, but on different levels. America, with all its superiority, means, and capabilities, its security was breached. It was breached in the Trade Centre towers and in other incidents. With all its powers, Russia’s security was breached a few days ago and more than 100 persons were killed. The security of all the region’s states was also breached. This includes all the neighbouring states without exception. I do not want to mention names so that it will not be said this is defamation against their security. All the neighbouring states’ security was breached. However, breaches have various dimensions and vary from one country to another. In Iraq, the citizen used to live in the quagmire of terrorism, and you are witnesses to what Iraq was. Therefore, the security breaches could be more than in other states in the region and the world. We work on this through intelligence activity and cooperation with the citizens to arrest these [terrorists] and to put them in prisons."
He adds: "As whether such incident would affect the [US forces’] withdrawal, I say no, not at all. Final arrangements have been made on withdrawal and based on clear timetables. You always hear us emphasize commitment to all clauses and timetables. The US side has always announced on the highest level that it is committed to the agreement and to withdrawal from Iraq."
Answering another question on the "moving part" of the security strategy, Al-Maliki says: "Regarding the moving part of the security strategy, I do not mean that we will begin to implement it, but we have begun to implement it since we received the security file on 30 June and the beginning of the implementation of the agreement on 1 January 2009. We have moved in this direction, and I do not want to mention the number of the terrorist cells, which have been arrested, thanks to the reactivation of the intelligence activity. Big cells and dangerous persons have been arrested. Furthermore, big crimes, which were committed in the past and whose perpetrators were not revealed, have now been revealed and the perpetrators were arrested."
Answering an indistinct question on "interference" by the neighbouring states, "specifically Syria," Al-Maliki says: "Yes, there is still interference. This is despite the fact that it should retreat, and it has retreated from many states, but it is still there by some states. We hope [it will retreat]. We play a role and hold contacts to convince the others and to tell them that you have no interest in sending weapons or giving a chance to killers and terrorists, who, if they can, they will turn against you once again."
Answering a question to the effect that some news agencies and space channels carried "conflicting" statements by the prime minister and the government’s official spokesman on the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, whether this organization will "be moved to the outskirts of Baghdad or to outside Baghdad, and whether this is a prelude to moving it outside the country," Al-Maliki says: "This organization has a bad history in Iraq. It has committed crimes against the Iraqis. The former regime has used it as a security agency. It has committed massacres during Friday prayers in Kifri and Kalar against the Kurds. In the records of many of the world states, it is accused as a terrorist organization. Based on our constitution, policy, and approach, we will never turn Iraq into a headquarters or a passageway for any terrorist organization."
He adds: "Our policy and constitution do not allow us to host any side that causes a crisis with any state in the world. Therefore, we have prevented many sides, which sought to use Iraq as a springboard against Arab states, and we told them that we would never allow this. Based on these introductions, background, and history, and out of protecting Iraq’s unity, security, and sovereignty, this organization has no place in Iraq. These are only preliminary measures to end their existence. We spoke with the world states and told them that we welcome anyone who wants to host them. We will not force this organization to return to Iran or to extradite it to it, but we will not allow an organization, which is accused of terrorism, to stay in Iraq. I do not think there was any contradiction in statements. Moving them from this camp is a prelude to moving them to outside Iraq and to any state that would accept them, or perhaps if they benefit from any pardon, which the Iranian Government would offer them."
Answering a question on his coming visit to Egypt, and whether "this time around" he will go to "persuade Egypt to play a role in persuading some neighbouring states to stop financing some terrorist sides and entering boobytrapped cars," and whether "you will give an olive branch and receive boobytrapped cars," Al-Maliki says: "I do not think Egypt is a party to this operation."
The reporter says: "I do not mean Egypt specifically."
Al-Maliki says: "As for the visit, you are aware of Egypt’s weight, role, and status among Arab states. Relations between Egypt and Iraq and the Egyptian and Iraqi peoples are good and deep-rooted. These relations have made great steps after the arrival a delegation of business and companies, led by the Egyptian investment minister. Some 80 companies have come to Iraq, held conferences, and acquainted themselves of the situation." He then speaks about his previous visits and those of Iraqi officials to Egypt and the joint committee that was formed between the two countries to develop relations in various fields.
Al-Maliki adds: "My visit is to entrench and promote these relations and to reactivate the agreements, which were signed between Egypt and Iraq. This is because we very much want to have strong and developed relations that could serve as an example of relations among Arab states."
On whether there are "differences" between the prime minister and Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani, and on Al-Maliki’s opinion about the "performance" of the interior minister, Al-Maliki says that under a democratic and national unity government, dialogue or different viewpoints between two persons should not be interpreted as "confrontation." He says: "The relationship between me and the interior minister is a good and brotherly relationship. The man listens and cooperates." He adds: "I can assure you that the prime minister’s relationship with all other ministers is good."
A reporter asks the following question: "Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu’allim made a statement, through which he sounded triumphant because Iraq does not have evidence on Syria’s interference in Iraq. Does this mean that the US envoy has not obtained concrete evidence from the Iraqi side on the Syrian interference?"
Answering this question, Al-Maliki says that Iraq has provided "concrete evidence." He adds: "However, this is a natural policy. Everyone defends himself through denial. To complete my answer to your question, I say that we do not want bad relations with Syria. We do not want to make lies against Syria because we have no interest in this. We do not pursue the policy of blaming other states. We talk about facts and we pursued a policy of improving our relations with Syria, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, and all other states in order to eliminate any differences or disagreement that this issue could create. Any statement we make is not because we like to strain any relations with any other state, but this is in defence of the Iraqi blood and right. The other side should understand this. I hope that the other side will put himself in the place of the Iraqis. If what is happening in Iraq happens in a neighbouring state, in terms of killing, bombings, and terrorism, providing that they knew that a certain person has passed through Iraq and that we did not cooperate with this person, establish a camp for him, train him, or arm him, but he has just passed from here and gone to them, what would they say? Definitely, they will hold us responsible. This is the norm among states. Therefore, how would it be if this involves camps, training, and media, which speak openly, and statements on all levels? It is only natural that we have the right to defend our people’s interests."
Answering a question that after every bombing, some Iraqi politicians "hasten" to blame the security forces and the government, Al-Maliki says that "tragedies" should unite all sides. He adds: "The problem today, however, is that we are heading to the elections. Therefore, they believe that they would be supporting the government’s electoral position if they unite with it. Very regrettably, the elections constitute a part of the relationship among the political forces. Therefore, this is a strange thing. I have addressed my message to all brothers in all political entities to unite to face the challenge."
He says: "If some sides, which are still playing a role, in any way, in supporting terrorism, we will not stop talking about this then. In fact, we will take the necessary measures and not talking only. We do not talk about issues only, but we take the appropriate measures to deter all those who tamper with the security of Iraq and its citizens."
Lina Abd-al-Jabbar, from the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur asks: "We know that Saudi Arabia is the only state, which you have not visited continuously. There is a talk about political barriers. When will Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki break this barrier?" Answering this question, Al-Maliki says: "When Saudi Arabia welcomes good relations with Iraq we will break the [barrier] once again. I have broken it at the beginning and I will break it again if Saudi Arabia wants so."
Answering a question on whether the "security breaches are aimed at preventing the current government from assuming power in Iraq once again," Al-Maliki says: "Democracy is the target, the political process is the target, and everyone in this political process is targeted. Preventing this government [from assuming power once again] is the goal, foiling democracy is a goal, and foiling media and political freedoms is a goal. The entire political process is targeted." He adds: "The elections will inevitably take place on the set date no matter how much efforts the terrorists will make to obstruct them." He says that we will spare no effort to prevent anything that would obstruct the elections, "taking into consideration that the real battle between us and the [terrorists] is the holding of the elections, and therefore, I hope that the citizens, political forces, and security agencies will pool their efforts to hold the elections because this will deal a blow to the heart of all those who reject democracy and the political process in the country."
Answering a question on whether any of the "political sides or parties that participate in the political process are involved in supporting the terrorist groups during the recent bombings," Al-Maliki says: "No, not in the recent bombings. However, you know that when sectarianism was at its peak, and when everyone used to call for supporting his sect and group, many sides were involved. They should have not spoken about sectarianism in the first place. As for the recent incidents, we do not have any information about the involvement of any political entity or side. This is the positive thing here; namely, that such operations are only carried out by the terrorists and the Ba’thists. We are talking about what happened in the past. God willing, this will not return because this was one of the prerequisites of sectarianism and tension. All sides believed that some sides can twist the arm of the other side, but all sides realized that no one can twist the other side’s arm because Iraq is the loser, and that Iraq and all Iraqis will succeed when all sides unite."
Al-Iraqiyah TV, Arabic, Baghdad – Translated by: BBC Monitoring Middle East