An Interview With Saddam

Antoun Nabhan anabhan at attglobal.net
Thu Apr 3 10:11:30 PST 2003


<http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2003/02/06/saddam_text/index.html>


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 
against Iraq?

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 
weapons.

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 
for aggression?

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 
humanity?

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 
public opinion.


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 
nations.

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 
security.


salon.com




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