Thamir Al-Tamimi "Abu Azzam," the Assistant Chairman of the Iraqi PMU, said in a May 21, 2019 interview on Samarra TV (Iraq) that today's religious extremism is a result of Islamic movements and the political Islam that started to spread in the 1990s. He said that Islamic ideology that mixes religious and state affairs has destroyed Iraq, and that, even as a religious man, he believes that only secular ideology and a separation of religion and state is good for heterogeneous countries like Iraq. Abu Azzam also said that the Iraqi system needs to be completely restructured and that the country needs to be "rescued" from fragmentation, foot-dragging and corruption because it has completely disintegrated.
Interviewer: "The religious extremism that we witness today is the result of..."
Thamir Al-Tamimi: "It is the result of Islamic movements and political Islam..."
Interviewer: "The political Islam of the 1990s?"
Thamir Al-Tamimi: "Yes. Its roots date back to even before the 1990s, but in the 1990s it began to spread in society – both among the Shiites and the Sunnis.
"After this long and bitter experience, I say that only secular ideology is good for Iraq. The Islamic ideology has ruined Iraq. I am not against religion. On the contrary, I am a religious man, on the personal level. I wish that everyone would fast, pray, adhere to the hijab, perform the religious rituals in full, give zakat... Our families perform many of these religious rituals. But I am talking about political Islam, and the mixing of the affairs of religious with the affairs of the state. A heterogeneous country like Iraq cannot be ruled by political Islam. Political Islam is a recipe for destruction in heterogeneous countries like Iraq. Iraq can only be ruled by a secular regime that separates religion and politics.
"Technically speaking, [religion and state] are separate in Iraq, but in practice, the country is ruled by political Islam, I'm sad to say. These are the consequences. Political Islam in Iraq is a failure and it has led to the failure of the state – both among the Shi'ites and the Sunnis.
"Iraq is in a state of exhaustion. University graduates are unemployed and have nowhere to live... They want to work and get married, but they have no future. Families are crowded in their homes. Thirty people live in a 100-square-meter house. In two years, the number of people living a house will equal its size... 50 people will live in a 50-square-meter house.
"The Iraqi people know that they live in a rich country and not in a poor one. So they want to get what they deserve. They want to live like normal human beings.
"The destruction in the country is vast. I believe that no prime minister will be able to fix the situation. This entire system needs to be restructured."
Interviewer: "Why aren't you optimistic?"
Thamir Al-Tamimi: "Do you see anything to be optimistic about?
"If there is a vote, all the people of Basra will vote for autonomy, and then other governorates will also want to become autonomous. Nassriya asked for it immediately. Mosul, Al-Anbar, and Saladin will follow suit. They have asked to become autonomous before. The country has disintegrated. This country needs to be rescued. This country needs a force that will rescue it from the fragmentation, the foot-dragging, and the corruption that gnaws on it left, right, and center."