Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) who was elected as leader of the National Alliance on September 5, elaborated on the influential bloc’s plans for the future, Taqrib News Agency (TNA) quoted Tasnim as saying.
The National Alliance, comprising all Shiite groups and partisan blocs, is the largest political bloc in Iraq in the post-2003 era that holds 185 out of 328 parliamentary seats.
Announcement of the new leader was an unexpected move that came without any prior reports of any change.
Over the past two years, there has been some discord within the National Alliance. Due to the lack of consensus on a new leader, the post had remained occupied by Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, leader of the alliance following the August 2009 death of Supreme Council head Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.
In his interview with Tasnim, Mr. Hakim said he will try to “unify and organize the alliance and improve its effectiveness.”
Asked about plans to bring the Shiite parties together, Hakim said the National Alliance will be making decisions at three levels, namely the leadership council, the political council and the general assembly.
The tasks will be distributed among various working groups, each of which will deal with a special case, he explained.
As regards dissenting voices by the Muqtada al-Sadr-affiliated al-Ahrar bloc that was followed by a wave of protests against the policies adopted by the Baghdad government, Mr. Hakim hailed Sadr’s bloc as a major component and praised it for rejoining the alliance.
The National Alliance will be able to implement its reform plans very easily with the return of Sadr’s bloc, he added.
Outlining the parliamentary bloc’s plans, Hakim referred to the fight against corruption as a high priority.
Tackling corruption requires an inclusive scheme, which has been already drafted and will be put to the vote within the next days, the cleric added.
He also highlighted the efforts to fulfill the goals set by the Iraqi religious leadership, particularly by top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali al-Sistani.
Ayatollah Sistani expects the Iraqi politicians to try harder in fighting corruption and serving the nation, and deems the status quo unacceptable, Hakim said, pledging efforts to satisfy the religious leaders.
On the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections in 2018 and the formation of a new government, Hakim said Iraq needs strong unity and an inclusive scheme given a host of challenges, such as military confrontation with Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group as well as economic and security problems.
The National Alliance tries to attend the upcoming election in a more unified state, Hakim noted, adding that the bloc has also set up a special committee to that end.
As regards a long-awaited military operation to liberate the northern city of Mosul from the control of Daesh terrorists, Hakim said an exact day would be set by the prime minister alone, but made it clear that the operation is expected to include all Iraqi armed forces, including the Army and the Federal Police, the Hashid al-Shaabi (the voluntary forces, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units), tribal Hashid forces in Mosul, Peshmerga fighters and the counterterrorism units.
The Iraqi politician finally underscored that Mosul operation will not include any foreign ground troops, saying the American or other foreign forces will only have an advisory role or provide aerial support.
Iraq has been facing the growing threat of terrorism, mainly posed by the Daesh terrorist group, which made advances in northern and western Iraq over the summer of 2014, after capturing swaths of northern Syria.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi military and its allies are preparing to launch a large-scale offensive to liberate the northern city of Mosul, which Daesh has proclaimed its headquarters in Iraq. Mosul fell to Daesh terrorists in summer 2014.