In a telephone interview with The New York Sun, Mithal al-Alusi yesterday said he expected a new wave of terror in his country, adding that Iraq and America's security were now inextricably linked and that it would be a "huge mistake" if American soldiers were brought home in 2006.
"Iraq is the main symptom of the terrorists, and I think we are going to have a new level of attacks in the area. It would be a huge mistake if Washington has made a decision to take the soldiers back. They cannot do it," Mr. al-Alusi said yesterday. "We are now trying to stop the terrorist attacks against America here."
Mr. al-Alusi's Iraqi Nation Party narrowly lost a bid to gain a single seat for the National Assembly in last January's elections, but there are indications that his party will do well in the elections scheduled for December 15. On November 19, an Iraqi newspaper, al-Bayyna, which is run by the Shiite Arab Iraqi Hezbollah Party, released a poll in which Mr. al-Alusi came in second to the current prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, among Iraqis when asked who they would support to be the next prime minister. Of those polled, 21% said they would support Mr. al-Alusi. Yesterday, the party leader said he expected his party would gain between 15 and 25 seats in next month's elections.
"Bush in the Iraqi eye is a great man, to the liberals he is a great man," Mr. al-Alusi said. "We know the huge price America has paid, but America now has a partner in the Middle East. When I campaign, I am talking about the strategic relationship and how this is in Iraq's interests." Mr. al-Alusi was particularly critical of American politicians and writers who claimed the president deceived the public in order to go to war. He said that his party would press the Iraqi government to renew the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which he said he believes Saddam clearly had before the invasion.
Sadly, it seems, President Bush may well be better regarded in Iraq than at home.
Meanwhile, one hopes this is NOT true:
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times quoted anonymous aides to Mr. Bush as saying that he will announce the first drawdown of American soldiers from Iraq in anticipation of the 2006 midterm elections.