- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 17, 2005


Question: What are the main challenges facing your government?

Answer: The most important expectations are in security and public services. We do expect to make a qualitative difference that will be felt by people. [And] we are going to lay down the foundations, the strategy, for the next government to continue on and benefit.

Q: What measures will you take that will help resolve these issues?

A: Let’s start with security. We believe that delaying the judiciary process and not carrying out punishments on criminals who have been proven guilty has encouraged many people to just go on with the crime. We believe [we must prosecute] all these cases in court, as quickly as possible, transparently. We believe if this becomes evident to people that we are pushing this process and that we are serious about it, this will deter others and will reduce the crime rate.

The second point is: As far as our neighbors are concerned, there are hotbeds creating criminals that are being exported to us. These are primarily people who are driven by either political or “religious” motives who are coming here to use Iraq as their theater of operations. So the second measure is to invest more and develop more quickly the quality and the performance of Iraq security apparatus and network.

We see our foreign policy to reach out to these countries … to work closely with them in sealing the borders and in chasing those criminal networks.

As to the way we are going to build these security and police institutions, we need to reach out more to Iraqis and mobilize them into these institutions. We see no reason for, and we are against, militias in the streets with people trying to protect themselves. People should be protected by state institutions.

The fourth point is on the political front. We are reaching out to the Sunnis, including them in all the discussions we have, and we hope we can address their political concerns.

Q: Will you allow American bases to remain here even after American troops pull out?

A: I do not expect that we will not need the foreign troops, the coalition forces. I expect even if they might be phased down, we still need their presence in the country. A question of that level of magnitude needs to be presented to the other institution in the country, which is parliament, and I expect this issue will be discussed in due course.

Q: Do you think Iran should be required to give up its nuclear weapons program?

A: I do not want to see weapons of mass destruction of any kind, nuclear or otherwise in the region. These are just weapons of human destruction, and I am definitely against their presence … As a medical doctor, I realize how much effort goes into saving one life. It is impossible to reconcile my thinking and upbringing and how much effort it takes in saving a life with … the developing and spread of these weapons.

Q: Critics of the government are saying that there are many backdoor deals getting done, [that] the parties are out to get what they can, that ethnic tensions are growing.

A: Iraq has diverse communities, and it is natural there will be an expression of that diversity in any form of political life and otherwise. You will see in the way I am forming the Cabinet that it will adopt naturally the diversity of Iraq, so there will be Shi’ites and Sunnis and Kurds and Christians, but what you will not see is Shi’ite ministry or a Kurdish ministry or a Sunni ministry because these are national ministries. What we are trying to do is strengthen and put together a national agenda.

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