Some flavor of the new president can be gathered from this recent FNS interview.
Federal News Service
May 27, 2004
(Note: The following was translated from Arabic)
QUESTION: Would you be willing to intervene personally in trying to stop
the fighting at Annajaf al Ashraf [Najaf]?
GHAZI AL YAWAR: I think that the issue of Annajaf al Ashraf is more difficult
than that of al-Fallujah. Mr. Muqtada al Sadr has a large following. I am present
on behalf of the Governing Council, and on my social standing to deal with this
issue. But any work should be a part of group work for the sons of the region
to pave the way for any involvement, and not a one person's involvement.
But it will honor me to undertake such an initiative in order to end the
bloodshed of our dear families in this sacred city. Annajaf, al-Fallujah, Zakho,
Basra, al Moussil, and Kirkuk are all like parts of a beautiful face. If one
of these parts is disfigured, the entire face would be disfigured.
QUESTION: Once the authority is given to the new provisional government,
who will be in charge of the new multinational forces in Iraq?
GHAZI AL YAWAR: I would assume that the leader of these forces, who will
work with the Iraqis, would probably be American. Battalions of the Iraqi army
will participate alongside this multinational force once the UN resolution is
The important thing is not who will be in command of this force. The Iraqi
armed forces will be under Iraqi command, but some battalions have to be under
some foreign leadership irrelevant of who that leadership is.
QUESTION: Would you call for an Arab participation in these forces?
GHAZI AL YAWAR: We would welcome the Arab countries participation in these
forces, as a part of the multinational forces in Iraq.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea as to the schedule or the time that these
forces should stay in Iraq?
GHAZI AL YAWAR: There is no schedule, and we can't put a time limit because
there are some bad elements who would wait for this date to come to restart
their attacks. That's the reason why we did not have a time limit for the multinational
But when the Iraqi leadership is ready to take the responsibility, we will
not hesitate to thank our friend and request from them to leave Iraq. This,
however, won't be any soon because its presence is a necessity.
QUESTION: There are some reports that after the transfer of power, the new
American Embassy will relocate to the Republican Palace. Is this true?
GHAZI AL YAWAR: The Republican Palace, which was built in the 1950s is a
symbol of sovereignty of Iraq, and many Iraqi leaderships used it. We will not
accept the embassy relocating there and they have not asked.
QUESTION: Could you comment on President Bush's decision to raze the Abu
GHAZI AL YAWAR: President Bush was very clear in what he said. He asked
if the Iraqis wanted it destroyed, and we, in the Governing Council said no.
But the decision will be left for the new provisional government to make.
QUESTION: Thank you Mr. Ghazi al-Yawar, current President of the Governing
UPI, May 25, on al-Yawar's reaction to the UN resolution submitted by the
U.S. and the UK:
Rotating President Ghazi al-Yawar said Tuesday the draft disregarded Iraqi
demands for granting the transitional government control over a national development
fund and a multinational peacekeeping force that might be deployed under a United
April 10, on al-Jazeera, via BBC world monitoring:
Text of live telephone interview with Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, member of the interim
Iraqi Governing Council in charge of negotiations with the representatives of
the al-Fallujah residents, in Baghdad, by al-Jazeera TV presenter Fayruz Zayyani
in the Doha studio, broadcast by Qatari al-Jazeera satellite TV on April 10
Zayyani: Are there any details about the negotiations which you held in
Al-Yawar: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. The negotiating
delegation is still in al-Fallujah city. It has concluded a round of negotiations
and it is holding now another round, but the most serious thing present there
is the fact that the cease-fire has not been respected by both sides the U.S.
forces and the al-Fallujah residents. The most serious issue is the intervention
of the U.S. Air Force and the F-16 jet fighters, which are raiding the city.
We called the coalition parties and informed them about our condemnation and
we expressed our surprise at these acts. We held them responsible for what they
are doing and also for the safety of the delegation. We informed them that this
situation would not allow calm negotiations to proceed.
Zayyani: We heard that the al-Fallujah residents were rejecting the arrival
of any delegation that represented the Iraqi Governing Council IGC in the city.
What changed these conditions and let you enter al-Fallujah?
Al-Yawar: This is not true. They did not reject us, but they blamed us for
not making any moves towards them. We are moving as parties and in our capacity
as having acquaintances and being well-known inside al-Fallujah within tribal,
religious and political circles. We are acceptable parties and we have with
us the Muslim Ulema Council and many other benevolent parties. The situation
is very serious and should come to an end peacefully.
Zayyani: What about the humanitarian conditions in al-Fallujah? You we were
able to see the situation for yourself there. What is going on in the al-Fallujah
and what about your efforts there from the humanitarian viewpoint, in addition
to the political efforts you are exerting now?
Al-Yawar: The humanitarian situation is very bad and heartbreaking. We,
with the benevolent forces, are doing a lot in collecting donations, but we
hold the occupation forces, which are occupying Iraq – and according to the
UN resolution – completely responsible for Iraq and responsible for allowing
humanitarian and medical aid to enter into al-Fallujah. These are Iraqi people
and they the U.S. forces are responsible, before international law, for their
safety and for delivering the food stuff and aid to them.
Zayyani: Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, IGC member in charge of negotiations with
the representatives of the Al-Fallujah residents, thank you.
In February al-Yawar spoke out about the weakness of the Sunni Arabs on
the Interim Governing Council to ash-Sharq al-Awsat (via BBC world monitoring):
In their statements, Al-Yawar and Al-Chadirchi talked about the weakness
of the Sunni voice in the political arena and in the Governing Council and the
strength of the Shi'i and Kurdish voice.
Al-Yawar said that this went back to the period that accompanied the change
of regime. During that period, he said, the Kurdish and Shi'i figures were closer
to the coalition authority while the Sunnis were the weak link in this relationship.
In several instances, he said, several Sunni figures were brought closer to
the coalition authority following nominations or consultations with the other
sides. He added that the interim Governing Council is not the only body that
has political weight in the Iraqi arena. There are other Sunni religious and
political parties and movements that should be relied upon and with whom alliances
should be formed to strengthen the position of the Sunnis. We should blame ourselves
for not coordinating our positions among ourselves both inside and outside the
Governing Council, he said.
"Suspicions" about federation
Al-Yawar added, "The Iraqi Kurds have unified their voices and efforts and
they are in agreement on their stands and demands. That is why we see them these
days insisting on federal rule for their regions. This demand is something new
and strange to Iraqi politics and to politics in the whole region. It is a vague
demand that is subject to rumors and that entails doubts, suspicions and vagueness
and that denotes a hard-line stand by the brother Kurds. They want to impose
a federation on the Iraqi people despite the lack of census statistics and before
any elections or general elections are held. They want to consecrate an ethnic
federation whether the Iraqi people like it or not."
Al-Yawar said: "The Shi'is and Sunnis should work together to salvage what
can be salvaged. They should not ignore the big issues, such as the issue of
a federation. We have to sit with the brother Kurds and come to a frank understanding.
This is a major problem; it is not an easy one. We have to understand what they
really want and what they are planning for the future. Even Lakhdar Brahimi
sensed this Iraqi problem and said that if the Iraqis did not wish to save their
own country, no power on earth could help them. This is a fact." Al-Yawar added:
"The Kurds are insisting on a federal rule while the brother Shi'is are insisting
on elections although all the other forces insist that such elections are not
feasible at present. The United Nations will adopt a similar stand; in other
words, the current conditions are not suitable to hold such elections. What
worries us most is the sectarian problem in Iraq. The issue of nationality between
Arabs and Kurds is simple and can be surmounted. Sectarian sedition, however,
is extremely dangerous, particularly since some neighboring countries or some
regional and international forces are encouraging such sedition."
"Misperception" of Sunni ties to former regime
Al-Yawar stated: "There is a misunderstanding that is lumping the Arab Sunnis
in Iraq with Saddam Hussein. The misperception is that the Arab Sunnis were
in the service of the former regime and that they enjoyed huge privileges under
Saddam's rule. However, we all know that Saddam did not believe in any religion
or sect. His injustices were inflicted on Sunnis, Shi'is, Kurds and all other
national groups and sects. He did not differentiate between one Iraqi and another.
Moreover, the Arab Sunnis of Iraq are the last people to think of sectarianism.
All our ideas are purely Iraqi and nationalist ones. We can become a link between
the Kurds and the Shi'is since we have nationalist links with both the Sunni
and Shi'i Kurds. The Kurds are the most successful in coordinating their stands
while the Shi'is understand one another the most. They hold periodic meetings
called the ‘Al-Bayt Al-Shi'i.’ The Shi'i House whereas we have failed to hold
such meetings due to personal or other reasons."
The member of the Governing Council added that it never crossed his mind
that the configuration of the council would be formed on ethnic or sectarian
bases and quotas. He said, "one week after the council was formed, I understood
this was a process that the brothers had agreed upon in the London conference
of the Iraqi opposition. I do not understand how a conference held in London
two years ago could impose its will on 25 million Iraqis. I do not know how
the quotas were determined. I believe that an accurate, scientific and neutral
census under the supervision of the United Nations will reveal the real figures
and ratios on condition that it is a fair census without armed militias."
January 22 in ash-Sharq al-Awsat via BBC world monitoring, on elections
Ghazi Ujayl al-Yawar said Ayatollah al-Sistani's view "is very important.
He is the source of authority for a broad sector of the Iraqis. I am not saying
Shi'is and Sunnis because we are all Muslims and the authority is the authority
for Sunnis as it is for the Shi'is."
He added: "This religious leader is searching for the ideal solution for
the issue of handing power over to the Iraqis. I do not believe there is any
Iraqi who rejects holding free and honest elections. But how can these elections
be free and honest when there are five armed militias affiliated to parties
and political movements? Who will ensure the people's safety and how can the
elections be held when there are the militias of the two Kurdish parties, the
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Al-Da'wah Party, National
Congress and the Accord? How can the elections be free and honest when there
are irregular armed forces? Security should be provided for the voter and we
must ensure that no pressures are exerted on him. The presence of these militias
sends a bad message to the Iraqi people confirming that the security situation
in the country is out of control ..."
Al-Yawar called for "amalgamating these militias in the Iraqi army and for
their loyalty to be for Iraq and not a party, a political movement or a specific
Al-Yawar went on to say … "Some want to stoke up the fire of sectarian
sedition between the Shi'is and Sunnis. I say that there is not such a division
in Iraq. We must say that the Iraqis are Arabs and Kurds and not Sunnis and
Shi'is. It is odd that we do not hear anyone who says Iraq and demands Iraq's
He concluded his statement by saying: "The important thing now is to restore
Iraq's sovereignty and take over power from the occupiers. Any party delaying
this causes us pain. The occupation is a wound to our dignity, at least morally.
If we delay the hand-over of power, then everything will be delayed and this
is not in the country's interest. The calls to rush the elections does not reflect
the true image of what Iraqis want."
On December 10 al-Yawar gave an interview with a Kurdish newspaper, Hawlati,
opposing decentralization and purely religious law (via BBC world monitoring):
In an interview with Hawlati, the chief of Shammar tribe and member
of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ghazi Ujayl al-Yawar, said he does not support
the devolvement of governorates into a federal system because he fears that
in place of one dictator we would get 25 in Iraq one for each of the 25 governorates.
In the interview, he rejected religious governing system for Iraq. He said:
"The Iraqi people are made up of a number of diverse national and religious
groups. They should be taken into consideration. Our era is not the era of religious
states." He expressed his support for federal status for Iraqi Kurdistan region
Last December when a short-lived U.S. plan was announced to retain several
militias and meld them under Iyad Allawi into a new security force, al-Yawar
went ballistic, according to Ed Wong of the NYT:
The composition of the militia has raised concerns among some council members.
Ghazi Yawar, a council member who does not represent any political parties,
said forming a militia of soldiers from different parties could lead to violent
factionalism. He added that the Governing Council was not consulted about this,
and that only council members representing the five largest parties – ones that
would contribute soldiers – took part in talks on the matter with General John
Abizaid, the senior American military commander. "I am very outraged; this is
stupid," Yawar said. "How many people are running Iraq? I'm very upset. This
can lead to warlords and civil war. Should I form my own militia? I can have
20,000 people or more here. But that is not what I want to do." Yawar said the
council members not involved in planning the creation of the militia had only
learned about it on Saturday, after Talabani informed them of the proposal.
His understanding of the militia differed somewhat from that of Mustafa's. Yawar
said only five parties would contribute to the militia, with 160 to 200 people
picked by each party.
On November 25, Joel Brinkley of the NYT reported Yawar's opposition
to a plan to retain the IGC as a sort of senate even after a caretaker government
was elected. One gets a sense that a lot of al-Yawar's complaints really had
to do with Ahmad Chalabi and his clique.
"This is from people who have a fear of losing a grip on things," said council
member Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, an important tribal sheik. "If we do this, we will
be another Yasser Arafat," the Palestinian leader whose enemies accuse him of
routinely reneging on agreements. Among the proponents of keeping the council
intact in some manner are leaders of its most important factions, including
the two major Kurdish parties, powerful Shi’ite clerics and prominent exile
leaders including Ahmed Chalabi.