PKK is Terrorist Organization and should be Dealt with Severely - Vice President of Iraq

Azerbaijan, Baku, 12 March / corr. Trend R.Rahimov / Intreview with Tariq Al-Hashimi, the Vice President of Iraq

Question: How will the decision of Iraq's Ministry to stop co-operation with the international oil companies, which signed contracts with the government of Kurdish Autonomy, affect the attraction of the foreign investments in the oil sector of Iraq? How will the foreign companies, which are willing to develop oil fields of Iraq, react to such a step?

Answer: The decision by the Ministry of Oil is not the fundamental issue. The issue of a clear constitutional mandate and a federal oil law are more important. Reputable oil companies are reluctant to invest in Iraq at the present time not because of the disputes between the central and regional governments, it is because there is no clear framework for their investment or clear mechanisms for the protection of that investment. This includes an oil framework law as well as a credible independent judiciary that will protect the rights and interests of companies doing business in Iraq.

Question: Despite Iraqi Government's official recognition of the PKK as a terrorist organization, so far no armed operations have been carried out with respect to this organization. What could be the reason for this?

Answer: I want to reiterate that it is our position that the PKK is a terrorist organization and should be dealt with severely. However, the area out of which PKK operates is a very difficult area and our forces are not equipped to go to those areas. This does not mean that other measures cannot be taken such as stopping their supplies to limit their activities.

Question Could the armed operations led by the Turkish Armed Forces in the north of Iraq against the PKK terrorists drive the terrorist into Iraq? To what extent are the military operations held by the Turkish Army useful in terms of terminating the PKK?

Answer: Yes, there is a possibility that the operations in the north will drive PKK terrorists further into Iraqi territory but the Iraqi government forces will interdict them. Regarding the operations, we respect the options that the Turkish government has in its fight against the PKK but internal problems of an ethnic nature cannot only be resolved with military force alone.

Question: Iraq was historically a country where Sunnites and Shiites lived in peace and equality. However, now we are witnessing quite the opposite. How would it be possible to prevent the resistance between the Sunnites and the Shiites?

Answer: The problem is not a religiously motivated one as much as it is the political usage of the sectarian identity. The resolution to the sectarian issue is to create a democratic Iraqi state where the rule of law is supreme and we must ensure that citizenship is the basis upon which privileges and responsibilities are accorded. It is the weakness of the Iraqi state that has caused people to identify with secondary identities, if we have a stable state people will once again look to their national Iraqi identity and hold it above sectarian or tribal affiliations. Regardless of the intensive sectarian strife, there is still a great opportunity to restore the historical Iraqi coexistence.

Question: The Iraqi Government has officially announced its victory over terrorists in the country. To what extent is there a need for the maintenance of coalition forces in the country once the victory was declared?

Answer: There is not a clear battle with timeframes and people in order for victory to be unilaterally declared. The battle against terrorism is an ideological one as much as it is a military one, if not more. We must eliminate the sources of problems such as poverty, inequality, sectarian institutions, and militias in order that a true and lasting victory can be declared. Simply reducing violence without addressing the root sources being resolved is no victory at all. The Multinational Forces will be needed for some time to come until Iraq has professional and patriotic armed forces.

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