For the first time since Trump’s election, Allawi spoke out about the former administration’s mistakes that critics believe brought turmoil to Iraq.

“America has lost a lot of potential friends here in the region. … and this is something that the new administration has to address,” Allawi said, and according to him, Obama’s principal error was his disengagement from a country and a region which desperately needed U.S. support. At a time when Iraq couldn’t stand on its own, Obama left, leaving a vacuum for Iran to fill. He said further, that Iran’s new influence is behind much of the bloodshed. “When our American friends left Iraq in 2011 they never laid down the issues that would strengthen the Iraqis to face the challenges ahead — their sudden withdrawal in 2011 without the necessary preparation left us many problems to face.”

Allawi talked about Iran’s impact. “It’s leading to bloodshed, to catastrophes and to wars around the Middle East….It has been a destabilizing factor. It’s destabilizing Iraq, it’s destabilizing Syria – it’s destabilizing other areas.”

He traced this back to Obama. In 2010, Allawi won the elections in Iraq, winning the seats, but he says he was pressured by the Obama administration to back down, calling it a direct interference with the political system. “Biden came several times here; in fact, he used to come once a week to convince me to withdraw my interest and I told him we are not interested in withdrawing,” he stated.

When Iranian-backed Nouri Maliki stepped in, Allawi said it was a turning point for Iraq, and that now large parts of the army are under Iranian control, and many state institutions also answer to Iran. 

Giving his views on Russia, Allawi believes Russian President Vladimir Putin can and should be worked with to defeat ISIS. He said, “I don’t think we should look at competition here between the U.S. and Russia, but rather as supplementing each other, and this is what I look forward to — what the new administration will do.”

The battle against ISIS won’t be the final one, according to Allawi. “I can see a lot of problems that will emerge after ISIS is defeated because I always say that not only is the military victory against ISIS enough, it needs to be supported by political gains.”

Allawi hopes to unite Iraq and hoped for U.S. support going forward. “We don’t want to see more American power here, we don’t want to see more American troops here, we don’t want to see more Americans being killed here in this country. But we need the political leverage of the U.S. to help Iraq and to develop Iraq.”