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Iraq hopes for Turkish role in reconstruction, connecting to Arab world

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Iraq hopes for Turkish role in reconstruction, connecting to Arab world
16 February 2010 [10:55] - Today.Az

A delegation of the National Iraqi Alliance, holding high-level talks in Ankara ahead of upcoming legislative elections, has asked Turkey to play a more active role in reconstruction and stabilization of the war-torn country and to help build bridges with the Arab world.

Ankara is hosting Iraqi leaders of various religious and ethnic groups with just weeks left before the neighboring war-torn country holds general elections on March 7.

“Turkey is a very important neighbor for us. It is able to play a more efficient role for both stabilizing Iraq and strengthening relations between Iraq and other countries in the region,” Humam Baqir Hamoudi, the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee’s chairman and vice president of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

A delegation from the National Iraqi Alliance, previously known as the United Iraqi Alliance, held high-level talks in Ankara on Monday to discuss cooperation possibilities and recent developments in the country. President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, State Minister Ömer Dinçer and a number of diplomats were among the officials they met.

Compared with the first legislative elections in 2005, Hamoudi asserted Iraq is much better in the fields of security, politics and economics.

“Ethnic and religious clashes have reduced,” said the Shiite leader, who described the upcoming elections as “an opportunity to deepen democracy.” The Kurdish alliance has divided and will run in the election on three separate tickets, although they had just one in the 2005 elections, Hamoudi said.

“Turkey can be a key actor since it has good relations with all groups in Iraq. Besides, the Turkish role finds acceptance in the region, which helps a lot to ease tension with other countries,” Hamoudi said.

“We want to boost strategic relations because Turkey is our door to Europe for selling oil and gas. At the same time, Iraq is a door to the Gulf and Middle East for Turkey,” he said. “Energy and infrastructure investments are the most desirable contributions from Turkey.”

The National Iraqi Alliance, running in the elections as the Watani List, hopes to gain 75-85 seats out of 225 in the parliament. As 165 parliamentarians is the minimum number to set up a government, the Watani List is planning to establish a three-party coalition.

Reinforcing the rule of law is among its main goals. “Political parties have been more influential than the law over the last few years,” Hamoudi said.

Asked if the autonomous Kurdish region in the north annoys the central government in Baghdad, “It is a problem,” he replied. “Each region, lacking a national petroleum law, has adopted its own system. But we prefer a country where the rule of law is dominant.”

“We do not have a unitary or centralist state. We have increased provincial shares in the budget allowing local authorities to take initiatives. But a federation is not what the Iraqi people want, either.”

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