Umar Dzhabrailov of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation invited me to come to Moscow to participate in the round table “Russia-Iraq: Cooperation Prospects” which is an initiative of the “Russian Islamic Heritage” movement. The fact that the media usually presents the dark side of the situation in Iraq is not a secret for anybody and this round table has allowed us to give information about the current situation and the political process that is taking place in the country.
Before my visit to Moscow, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani stated that Iraqis were ready to cooperate with Russia in all fields. It’s necessary to increase our contacts and visits in order to give a positive boost to our relations. We’re preparing the visit of the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Relations and we’d also like a Russian delegation coming to Iraq. We know security conditions are not the best ones, but other presidents and ministers go there regularly.
In Iraq, people feel that the Russians are waiting to see what will happen. The ambassador’s visit was a great step forward, but we’d like to see Russia supporting the political process in Iraq more often as well as getting more economically involved.
Of course there are different viewpoints in Iraq as noticed during the drafting-of-the-Constitution process, and we’re on our way to democracy. We’re doing our best, so that all groups participate in the drafting-of-the-Constitution process.
Moscow needs more information about the Iraqi situation. This may be related to the working conditions in Iraq because moving from one place to another to objectively assess the situation is impossible. Contrary to what Russians have requested in different moments, Iraqis don’t need a mediator: we do our own negotiations. The United States is present but they do not intervene in the decision making process. They did help in bringing different positions closer during the last phase of the drafting of the constitution, though.
Russia must understand that the political process helps to eliminate violence. This is the reason why terrorists are not interviewed in the official media. Understanding this would be a good support, even before an economic cooperation.
I have spoken with Russian industrialists who are willing to have projects in Iraq. We’re not talking about a poor country, there’re great possibilities, especially with such a raise in oil prices. Nowadays we’re analyzing the Russian contracts that were signed on a legal basis; they can be renewed and extended. The situation is really unstable in four provinces of the country, but there are 18 provinces in all.

RIA Novosti (Russia)

Ирак готов сотрудничать с Россией во всех сферах”, by Jalal al-Mashta, Ria Novosti, September 13, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.