SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said he had survived three assassination attempts since he took office last year.
Kadhimi said in an interview with al-Hadath channel aired on Sunday that he would bear all consequences as he has accepted the position.
Asked if there were attempts to assassinate him, Kadhimi said: “Yes, I have been subjected to three assassination attempts, and I believe God Almighty has written the hour in which I am a servant of this people and the hour in which I leave. This issue has never worried me.”
“I am not afraid of any group or party, and what raises my fear and concern is the future of the children of Iraq, because some of the wrong policies in the past may take Iraq in the wrong direction,” he added.
Kadhimi further said the political system and the constitution of Iraq needed to be completely reviewed and that the country needed “real and correct” mechanisms to serve citizens.
“Corruption and the struggle for influence spoil the process of providing services to the citizens,” Kadhimi added.
Iraq is perceived as the 21st most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, with some $450 billion in public funds vanishing into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen since 2004.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said in April that $150 billion from oil had been smuggled out of the country since former Baath president Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003.
“Political goal behind” attacks on power towers
Dozens of transmission towers have been targeted by militant groups across Iraq in the past weeks.
Iraqi authorities accuse Islamic State (ISIS) militants of targeting the country’s towers in several provinces. Some analysts, however, accused militia groups of exploding the towers.
“I hope there are no political goals behind this sabotage,” Kadhimi said.
“If there are political goals, this is a dangerous trend that will take us into a very dangerous area,” he added.
He further said he would have no problem if someone who target the transmission towers aim to bring him down, but noting that it “hurts me to cut off the electricity to an Iraqi child or an elderly”.
“The important thing is that the electricity issue does not turn into a file for political misrepresentation,” he said.
The prime minister also said his government was working to reform the electricity sector which has been subjected to a “major corruption process”.
Kadhimi continued to say that the previous governments had spent more than $80 billion on electricity sector since 2003.
Iraqis blame a government which relies on energy imports from Iran and which they say has failed to develop Iraq’s own grid to serve its population. Iraq’s electricity minister resigned earlier this month under pressure over the power crisis.
Kadhimi said Iraq produced 20.5 gigawatt and is expected to finish the power grid link with the gulf countries by 2022.
He added that the federal government was also working to link with Jordan, Egypt and Turkey to diversify power import sources.
Withdrawal of combat troops
Iraq and the United States began their strategic dialogue in June 2020 under former U.S. President Donald Trump administration.
In the third round of talks in April, the United States agreed to remove remaining combat forces deployed to fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq.
Kadhimi scheduled to meet U.S. President Joe Biden on July 26 said he would discuss the withdrawal of American combat troops with officials in Washington, as well as plans for the remaining soldiers to train Iraqi forces.
“There is no need for the combat troops,” Kadhimi said, adding that Iraqi troops were ready and were undertaking the responsibility to fight Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
He, however, said they still needed training and intelligence backup.
Attacks on diplomatic missions
Efforts to continue the strategic dialogue come as U.S. forces stationed in Iraq come under continued rocket and drone attacks.
The attacks have increased since the United States carried out airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups last month.
Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran vowed to retaliate after U.S. strikes on the Iraqi-Syrian border killed four of their members.
“The government will fulfil its duty to protect diplomatic missions or sites where there are guests in Iraq,” Kadhimi said.
“Iraq does not want to be an arena for the U.S.-Iranian conflict,” he added. “We are working with full force with Iran and the U.S. to banish the specter of conflict and disagreement.”
“We are working to help find a mechanism for dialogue between Iran and America to resolve all points of contention between the two countries,” he noted.
Kadhimi sent a message to groups who work to turn Iraq into an arena for conflict, saying: You have no choice but the state, and absurd actions do not serve anyone, do not serve Iraq, nor countries of the region, nor the future of our children.”
“We have taken real steps to protect diplomatic missions and a large group of these trespassers have been arrested,” he continued.