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Frontline interviews: Chalabi calls sanctions immoral. Aziz absolves Glaspie.

Frontline's* recent program, "The Survival of Saddam" was a disappointment
insofar as sanctions were not discussed.  However, the companion website
<> has some interesting
information including interviews with Ahmad Chalabi, Tariq Aziz, Jalal
Talabani, and others.

Dr. Chalabi is the (most visible) head of the Iraqi National Congress, a
well-funded dissident group which has historically defended sanctions (hence
their dismissal by many as Armani-suited Quislings; see their policy
statement at <>).  However,
in his interview Dr. Chalabi calls sanctions immoral and questions their
effectiveness (snip below).

In his interview, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz absolves the
former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Ms April Glaspie) of the charge that she
"suckered" Iraq into the Gulf War (snip below).  Mr. Aziz also explains
Iraq's attitudes toward UNSCOM and sanctions, and repeats the claim that
"... since ....1992, until (UNSCOM) withdrew from Iraq in 1998, they didn't
find in Iraq a gallon of chemicals or biological weapons, or a functional
missile ...".

And in an unintentionally humorous segment, Mr. Aziz strives mightily
(sweating bullets all the while, no doubt) to paint a picture of an
avuncular, approachable Saddam: "... He listens to the ordinary citizens. He
meets scores of people every week. Sometimes people go and see him just to
give him an idea, or to complain about something personal or public ..."

No word from Mr. Aziz on the ultimate fate of those complaining ...

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

* Frontline is a weekly newsprogram televised nationally in the U.S. via
PBS;  "The Survival of Saddam" aired on Jan 25, 2000.
[Chalabi Interview]

Chalabi: "... The policy, if it is only keeping sanctions on, is essentially
immoral. Sanctions are not a policy. Sanctions are a very blunt instrument.
Saddam is degraded. However, the situation of the Iraqi people is degraded
more, because Saddam has first call on any resources that come into Iraq.

The disparity in resources between Saddam and the Iraqi people is growing.
The United States is having trouble maintaining sanctions on Iraq in the
United Nations. Many people in the opposition are calling for the lifting of
sanctions. Many people are not thinking of the geopolitical significance of
enabling Saddam by giving him huge resources. But nevertheless, the tragedy
of the Iraqi people is sufficient to blind them to this geopolitical threat,
and they could support the lifting of sanctions. Most countries in the
Security Council now support the lifting of sanctions. It is perhaps only
the United States and Britain who say no, keep the sanctions on. So the
United States is not making headway in its policy. It is a policy of
diminishing returns." 

[Aziz Interview]

Q: "Could you elaborate on the point about mixed signals sent by the U.S.
during the run-up to the invasion of Kuwait? How did those influence your
government's decision?"

Aziz: "There were no mixed signals. We should not forget that the whole
period before August 2 witnessed a negative American policy towards Iraq. So
it would be quite foolish to think that, if we go to Kuwait, then America
would like that. Because the American tendency . . . was to untie Iraq. So
how could we imagine that such a step was going to be appreciated by the
Americans? It looks foolish, you see, this is fiction. About the meeting
with April Glaspie--it was a routine meeting. There was nothing
extraordinary in it. She didn't say anything extraordinary beyond what any
professional diplomat would say without previous instructions from his
government. She did not ask for an audience with the president. She was
summoned by the president. He telephoned me and said, "Bring the American
ambassador. I want to see her." She was not prepared, because it was not
morning in Washington. People in Washington were asleep, so she needed a

To contact anybody in Washington and seek instructions. So, what she said
were routine, classical comments on what the president was asking her to
convey to President Bush. He wanted her to carry a message to George
Bush--not to receive a message through her from Washington."
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