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Broad international force needed for Iraq, sa -

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Broad international force needed for Iraq, says Allawi

AM - Thursday, 13 September , 2007 08:16:00

Reporter: Rafael Epstein

PETER CAVE: Iraq's former Defence and Finance minister Ali Allawi says the presence of Australian
troops in his country doesn't make a difference to Iraqis but it does make a difference in
Australia's relations with the United States.

Mr Allawi says what's needed is a broader international force.

He told our Europe Correspondent Rafael Epstein the public announcements from General Petraeus and
President Bush this week will make little difference to the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

ALI ALLAWI: Again, I don't think it's seen in that way. I mean, Iraqis see the stark terrors of
life, of daily life, and the problems of just day to day existence, lack of basic services, no
utilities, fear for their children.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: But do you think Iraqis believe that they need the American troops still, or a
broad Coalition force, still? Is that something that's still needed to stop the country getting
worse?

ALI ALLAWI: I think so. I think only because the political establishment has been unable to
articulate any vision to get us out of this crisis, so it's a crutch that exists. Now the crutch
may not be something that they would want to have, but there's no alternative. But nobody has
presented yet an alternative to the American troops.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So it would be bad news if they pulled out quickly?

ALI ALLAWI: I think so, most people would think that if the Americans pulled out, people would
still have a go at each other, and there would be a complete breakdown. But that's really a fault,
as I said, of the Iraqi political establishment, to put us in a situation like this, where there is
no outcome, except to continue to have the country occupied.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Does it matter what Australia does, with its soldiers in Iraq, 500 troops if
they're there or not in the south, does that make a difference?

ALI ALLAWI: It doesn't make a difference to Iraq, or to Iraqis, but it may make a difference to
Australia's relations with the United States. I mean, the presence of Australian troops has very
little to do with Australian interests in the Middle East, it's basically to do with being seen as
a loyal and permanent ally as it were, to the United States.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So Australia could have a role in Iraq, and a role with the United States, whether
or not it's got troops fighting in the south of the country?

ALI ALLAWI: I think, with all due respect, I've seen Australian troops in action, and I have seen
Australian advisors, they are top drawer, there is no doubt about that. I think your work could be
far, far more significant if you send more advisors, exercise more soft power.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: If you could wave your magic wand, what practical steps would make a big
difference?

ALI ALLAWI: Well I think there's two ways of getting out of this. One has less problems than the
other. The first way is to really circumvent the political powers, and try to create a new
mass-based civil disobedience, or some kind of mass demonstrations that would change the political
landscape. The other way of doing it, I think, is basically to internationalise the Iraqi crisis,
and to say that this is a global problem, and to bring the, not the United Nations, but a large
international force, but that would require...

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: It sounds to me like you're saying that America would need to work a lot more
closely with Iran and Saudi Arabia, perhaps?

ALI ALLAWI: Yes, I think there are three powers that matter in the area, and that's Turkey,
vis-à-vis the Kurds, Iran, vis-α-vis the Shias, and Saudi Arabia, vis-α-vis the Sunnis. And it is
also in the manifest interest of these countries to try to find a way out of this, otherwise the
United States will be a direct player in Middle Eastern politics for a long time to come.

PETER CAVE: The former Iraqi Defence and Finance minster, Ali Allawi, speaking there to Rafael
Epstein.