Two great interviews, one with an Iraqi member of parliament, and the other with PM Al-Maliki.
First, MP Iyad Jamal Al-Din, a Shiite cleric member of Ayad Allawi’s party, explains why Iraq must be secular. He talks about religionists and hypocrites, and explains that even when Mohamed was alive, when religious authorities take political power, the government becomes full of hypocrites. Only by staying out of government can religious movements remain pure. He ends with this:
You cannot plant democracy in a country that rejects it. Freedom does not come through learning how to read and write. Freedom, like love, is an inner feeling. If you are not free, no force in the world can liberate you. Freedom is a will within the individual, and, unfortunately, this wonderful and beautiful [will] in our countries has been distorted by the fraudulent Islamic culture.
Then there is this long (20+ minutes) interview, in which PM Maliki talks to the BBC’s John Simpson. The encouraging thing here is how convincingly Maliki talks about imposing “the authority of the state,” and he shows a pretty nuanced view of the danger the militias pose outside state control, and the role they can play if properly regulated. He also makes a point I had never thought of, which is that the United States and the Coalition have an obligation under Security Council resolutions to maintain security in Iraq until Iraqi security forces can take over. And by the way, he has every intention of seeing Saddam hang before the end of the year. (Click on the video, it’s worth watching in its entirety). The Maliki interview (from November 7) gets even more interesting with recent reports of a looming cabinet reshuffling in Baghdad — Maliki wants to be sure that his entire cabinet puts the central government above their respective parties.