Iraqi President Fuad Masum -- REUTERS
Iraqi President Fuad Masum -- REUTERS

Exclusive: Fuad Masum talks ties with Egypt, challenges facing Iraq after IS loss

Fri, Aug. 17, 2018
CAIRO – 17 August 2018: Egypt and Iraq have had mutual cooperation in different aspects, atop of which is combating terrorism. President of Iraq Fuad Masum said during an exclusive interview with Egypt Today . Masum also discussed ways to boost bilateral ties, and told of the strategic and security challenges Iraq is facing ahead of the assigning of a new government.

Below is a transcript of Masum’s interview with Egypt Today.

ET: Why has the new government not formed yet after parliamentary elections were held in May?

Masum: Constitutionally speaking, there is no delay in the formation of the new government, and per the schedule, Aug. 15 is the last day to receive appeals against the results of the vote count and sorting of the parliamentary election held on May 12.

The stage that comes after considering the appeals is the ratification of the final results by the Federal Supreme Court, then the House of Representatives will convene within 15 days to elect a Parliament speaker and his deputies with an absolute majority of members’ votes required for victory.

A new president for the republic will then be elected, and will in turn assign a candidate of the largest parliamentary bloc to head and form a new Iraqi government.

We are confident that everyone will accomplish the procedures according to the constitution’s principles, as we also hope political powers reach understandings and rapprochement regarding the forming of the largest bloc ahead of the first parliamentary session.

ET: Who is responsible for considering appeals against parliamentary election results?

Masum: The Supreme Judicial Authority has been in charge of this issue. The authority has assigned nine judges to replace nine other members of the Board of Commissioners after the Parliament froze their membership over accusations that are not proven yet.

The Board of Commissioners is the highest authority in the Independent High Electoral Commission.

Everyone has the right to doubt or appeal poll results or any decision announced, but the important thing is to reveal the truth before the Iraqi people and respect justice and equity among everyone as per the constitution.

ET: Why is there a lack of trust in some politicians in the Iraqi judiciary?

Masum: We have not seen this lack of trust in the Iraqi judiciary system, on the contrary; everyone has showed respect to the decisions taken by the Board of Commissioners, and the provisions of the Electoral Judiciary on the final results of the manual vote count and sorting.

The Independent High Electoral Commission announced days ago that the results of manual counting are not very different from the electronic sorting. Our focus is now on enhancing confidence and understanding among all Iraqis as we await the official lists of the winning parliamentary candidates to convene the House of Representatives.

ET: Do you fear Islamic State’s return amid the current economic situation in Iraq?

Masum: We freed all Iraqi lands from IS control and destroyed its military might, but the danger of terrorist groups has not completely disappeared, there are still sleeping cells with hidden agents found in the desert and other areas; however, it cannot lead to another invasion of radical group.

Iraq is trying to solve the reasons behind the re-emergence of radical groups, namely: ending poverty and unemployment; deepening societal awareness; developing educational curricula; boosting international and regional security cooperation; enhancing national unity, justice and equity without discrimination and consolidating a democratic regime.

This is a long process and needs national, regional and international strategic plans to stop radical groups from recruiting foreigners in terrorism groups, and cut their financial sources.

ET: How will Iraq be affected by the construction of the Iranian and Turkish dams?

Masum: The damages will be large, and the water levels of the Tigris River in Mosul, Baghdad and other areas have already witnessed a significant decline after the Turkish government started filling the Ilısu Dam, and the Iranian government has taken measures to reduce water levels of the Little Zab River, which resulted in a drinking water crisis in Qaladiza city in Kurdistan’s Sulaymaniyah.

The reduction in the water levels in Iraq has dangerous effects on the environment, agriculture and the economy of the country, in addition to the dangers threatening livestock, and causing desertification and drought that we are already suffering from.

We are in continuous contact with Turkey and Iran to address this issue in a constructive manner and to serve the interests of all parties, especially since Iraq has an agreement with Turkey on the amounts of water stored and shared.

The water issue is a priority for us, and hence, we redouble efforts to protect this vital wealth for the future of the country through programs that raise awareness against wasting water.

We also seek to regulate the optimal utilization of this national wealth by speeding up the enactment of the Water Council Law, the Water Fund Law and other related laws.

ET: Did the states participating in the Iraq Reconstruction Conference held in Kuwait uphold their commitments?

Masum: Commitments have been partly met thus far, and we are willing to move forward to implement reconstruction plans, and the country has promising investment opportunities in several sectors, especially electricity, water, housing, agriculture, tourism, transport, ports and other services.

ET: How can joint cooperation between Egypt and Iraq in combating terrorism be boosted?

Masum: There is a mutual cooperation in different aspects; atop of which is combating terrorism. Bilateral coordination has reaped its fruits in the last period after the successful arrest of a number of terror cells and the thwarting of a terror plot against Egypt set by IS militants. We are working on enhancing and widening this cooperation between both countries.

ET: Did the companies start reconstructing liberated Iraqi cities? Are there any Egyptian companies taking part in this?

Masum: The plans for the reconstruction of the cities that were freed from terrorism are currently under way. Iraq gives attention to the participation of Egyptian investment institutions in rebuilding all affected areas; besides, we also seek to benefit from Egyptian expertise in all fields, especially industry, tourism, agriculture in addition to other economic, cultural and political aspects.


Translated by

Nourhan Magdi


 
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