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Iraq's President Sees Iraqi Society "United"

Iraq's President Sees Iraqi Society "United"

Talabani calls on Iraqi voters to judge the constitution

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says the vocal disagreement between different ethnic and religious communities in Iraq should not be interpreted as a sign of civil discord but, rather, an indication of a healthy political environment.

“There is no civil war in Iraq, and Iraqi society is united,” Talabani told a group of journalists in Washington September 9. “But because we have a democratic climate … there are dialogues, there are discussions, there are sometimes different ideas, views. But in the end, you see Iraqi society united.”

He said the democratic process is helping forge a stronger sense of national unity in Iraq. “As history proved, multination governments and states can only survive when there will be democracy and federation and equality,” he said.

Speaking about reservations in some parts of the Sunni Arab community about the role of federalism in the new Iraqi Constitution, Talabani said it is up to the Iraqi voters to decide. “Let us … ask the people, go back to the referendum to ask the people. If they don’t want federation, OK. If they didn’t want it, put it aside,” he said.

Iraqi voters are being asked to vote on the new draft constitution in an October 15 referendum. As it stands, the document provides for greater empowerment of regional governments under a federal system.

Talabani said Iraq likely would be able to build up its security forces within the coming year, thereby allowing the United States to draw down its forces, but he said American troops are serving more than just an internal security function.

“I think we need to have American forces. It’s not only for the security of Iraq …. The need for American forces there … is to frighten our neighbors not to interfere in our internal affairs. We are afraid from this,” he said.

Talabani expressed Iraq’s appreciation for the support it has received from Turkey and Iran, and he said that Iraq does not support the activities of the PKK, Turkey’s militant Kurdish opposition group. Talabani, himself a Kurd, said, “We think that PKK committed a big mistake when they resumed the war against Turkish government …. We think that the time is for all people to choose political and peaceful methods of struggle. We don’t think that what they are doing is in the interests of the Kurdish people either in Turkey or in Iraq.”

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