An Interview With Saddam
anabhan at attglobal.net
Thu Apr 3 10:11:30 PST 2003
Feb. 6, 2003 |
Following is the transcript of an interview with Saddam Hussein conducted
by former British Member of Parliament Tony Benn, as broadcast Tuesday on
Britain's Channel 4 television.
Benn: I come for one reason only -- to see whether in a talk we can
explore, or you can help me to see, what the paths to peace may be. My only
reason, I remember the war because I lost a brother. I never want to see
another war. There are millions of people all over the world who don't want
a war, and by agreeing to this interview, which is very historic for all of
us, I hope you will be able to help me, be able to say something to the
world that is significant and positive.
Saddam: Welcome to Baghdad. You are conscious of the role that Iraqis have
set out for themselves, inspired by their own culture, their civilization
and their role in human history. This role requires peace in order to
prosper and progress. Having said that, the Iraqis are committed to their
rights as much as they are committed to the rights of others. Without peace
they will be faced with many obstacles that would stop them from fulfilling
their human role.
Benn: Mr. President, may I ask you some questions? The first is, does Iraq
have any weapons of mass destruction?
Saddam: Most Iraqi officials have been in power for over 34 years and have
experience of dealing with the outside world. Every fair-minded person
knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trustworthy.
A few minutes ago when you asked me if I wanted to look at the questions
beforehand; I told you I didn't feel the need so that we don't waste time,
and I gave you the freedom to ask me any question directly so that my reply
would be direct.
This is an opportunity to reach the British people and the forces of peace
in the world. There is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have
said on many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction
whatsoever. We challenge anyone who claims that we have to bring forward
any evidence and present it to public opinion.
Benn: I have another, which has been raised: Do you have links with al-Qaida?
Saddam: If we had a relationship with al-Qaida and we believed in that
relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it. Therefore, I would like
to tell you directly and also through you to anyone who is interested to
know that we have no relationship with al-Qaida.
Benn: In relation to the inspectors, there appear to be difficulties with
inspectors, and I wonder whether there's anything you can tell me about
these difficulties and whether you believe they will be cleared up before
[chief U.N. weapons inspector] Mr. Hans Blix and [International Atomic
Energy Agency head] Mr. El Baradei come back to Baghdad?
Saddam: You are aware that every major event must encounter some
difficulty. On the subject of the inspectors and the resolutions that deal
with Iraq you must have been following it and you must have a view and a
vision as to whether these resolutions have any basis in international law.
Nevertheless the Security Council produced them.
These resolutions -- implemented or not -- or the motivation behind these
resolutions could lead the current situation to the path of peace or war.
Therefore it's a critical situation. Let us also remember the unjust
suffering of the Iraqi people. For the last 13 years since the blockade was
imposed, you must be aware of the amount of harm that it has caused the
Iraqi people, particularly the children and the elderly as a result of the
shortage of food and medicine and other aspects of their life. Therefore we
are facing a critical situation.
On that basis, it is not surprising that there might be complaints relating
to the small details of the inspection which may be essential issues as far
as we are concerned and the way we see the whole thing. It is possible that
those Iraqis who are involved with the inspection might complain about the
conduct of the inspectors and they complain indeed.
It is also possible that some inspectors either for reasons of practical
and detailed procedure, or for some other motives, may complain about the
Iraqi conduct. Every fair-minded person knows that as far as Resolution
1441 [authorizing U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq] is concerned, the
Iraqis have been fulfilling their obligations under the resolution.
When Iraq objects to the conduct of those implementing the Security Council
resolutions, that doesn't mean that Iraq wishes to push things to
confrontation. Iraq has no interest in war. No Iraqi official or ordinary
citizen has expressed a wish to go to war. The question should be directed
at the other side. Are they looking for a pretext so they could justify war
If the purpose was to make sure that Iraq is free of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons then they can do that. These weapons do not come in
small pills that you can hide in your pocket. These are weapons of mass
destruction and it is easy to work out if Iraq has them or not. We have
said many times before and we say it again today that Iraq is free of such
So when Iraq objects to the conduct of the inspection teams or others, that
doesn't mean that Iraq is interested in putting obstacles before them which
could hinder the efforts to get to the truth. It is in our interest to
facilitate their mission to find the truth. The question is does the other
side want to get to the same conclusion or are they looking for a pretext
If those concerned prefer aggression then it's within their reach. The
superpowers can create a pretext any day to claim that Iraq is not
implementing Resolution 1441. They have claimed before that Iraq did not
implement the previous resolutions. However, after many years it became
clear that Iraq had complied with these resolutions. Otherwise, why are
they focusing now on the latest resolution and not the previous ones?
Benn: May I broaden the question out, Mr. President, to the relations
between Iraq and the U.N., and the prospects for peace more broadly, and I
wonder whether with all its weaknesses and all the difficulties, whether
you see a way in which the U.N. can reach that objective for the benefit of
Saddam: The point you raised can be found in the United Nations charter. As
you know Iraq is one of the founders and first signatories of the charter.
If we look at the representatives of two superpowers -- America and Britain
-- and look at their conduct and their language, we would notice that they
are more motivated by war than their responsibility for peace. And when
they talk about peace all they do is accuse others they wish to destroy in
the name of peace. They claim they are looking after the interests of their
people. You know as well as I do that this is not the truth. Yes, the world
would respect this principle if it was genuinely applied. It's not about
power but it is about right and wrong, about when we base our human
relations on good, and respect this principle. So it becomes simple to
adhere to this principle because anyone who violates it will be exposed to
Benn: There are people who believe this present conflict is about oil, and
I wonder if you could say something about how you see the enormous oil
reserves of Iraq being developed, first for the benefit of the people of
Iraq and secondly for the needs of mankind.
Saddam: When we speak about oil in this part of the world -- we are an
integral part of the world -- we have to deal with others in all aspects of
life, economic as well as social, technical, scientific and other areas. It
seems that the authorities in the U.S. are motivated by aggression that has
been evident for more than a decade against the region. The first factor is
the role of those influential people in the decision taken by the president
of the U.S. based on sympathy with the Zionist entity that was created at
the expense of Palestine and its people and their humanity. These people
force the hand of the American administration by claiming that the Arabs
pose a danger to Israel, without remembering their obligation to God and
how the Palestinian people were driven out of their homeland.
The consecutive American administrations were led down a path of hostility
against the people of this region, including our own nation and we are part
of it. Those people and others have been telling the various U.S.
administrations, especially the current one, that if you want to control
the world you need to control the oil. Therefore the destruction of Iraq is
a prerequisite to controlling oil. That means the destruction of the Iraqi
national identity, since the Iraqis are committed to their principles and
rights according to international law and the U.N. charter.
It seems that this argument has appealed to some U.S. administrations,
especially the current one, that if they control the oil in the Middle East
they would be able to control the world. They could dictate to China the
size of its economic growth and interfere in its education system and could
do the same to Germany and France and perhaps to Russia and Japan. They
might even tell the same to Britain if its oil doesn't satisfy its domestic
consumption. It seems to me that this hostility is a trademark of the
current U.S. administration and is based on its wish to control the world
and spread its hegemony.
People have the right to say that if this aggression by the American
administration continues, it would lead to widespread enmity and
resistance. We won't be able to develop the oil fields or the oil industry
and therefore create worldwide cooperation as members of the human family
when there is war, destruction and death. Isn't it reasonable to question
this approach and conclude that this road will not benefit anyone,
including America or its people? It may serve some short-term interests or
the interests of some influential powers in the U.S. but we can't claim
that it serves the interest of the American people in the long run or other
Benn: There are tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people in
Britain and America, in Europe and worldwide, who want to see a peaceful
outcome to this problem, and they are the real Americans in my opinion, the
real British, the real French, the real Germans, because they think of the
world in terms of their children. I have 10 grandchildren and in my family
there is English, Scottish, American, French, Irish, Jewish and Indian
blood, and for me politics is about their future, their survival. And I
wonder whether you could say something yourself directly through this
interview to the peace movement of the world that might help to advance the
cause they have in mind?
Saddam: First of all we admire the development of the peace movement around
the world in the last few years. We pray to God to empower all those
working against war and for the cause of peace and security based on just
peace for all. And through you we say to the British people that Iraqis do
not hate the British people. Before 1991 Iraq and Britain had a normal
relationship as well as normal relations with America. At that time the
British governments had no reason to criticize Iraq as we hear some voices
doing these days.
We hope the British people would tell those who hate the Iraqis and wish
them harm that there is no reason to justify this war and please tell them
that I say to you because the British people are brave -- tell them that
the Iraqis are brave too.
Tell the British people if the Iraqis are subjected to aggression or
humiliation they would fight bravely, just as the British people did in the
Second World War, and we will defend our country as they defended their
country each in its own way. The Iraqis don't wish war but if war is
imposed upon them -- if they are attacked and insulted -- they will defend
themselves. They will defend their country, their sovereignty and their
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