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[casi] Transcript of Tony Benn's Interview with Saddam Hussein

Very interesting... Saddam speaks much more truth about the current situation
that Bush does. This in no way absolves Saddam from his criminal and
murderous acts, but it shows that Bush is a complete liar who cannot be
trusted. If Saddam makes more sense than Bush...well, you get the point.
The Saddam Hussein Interview      
Published: 4 February 2003
Reporter: Channel 4 News

Tonight a world exclusive - Saddam Hussein in his own words.

At the weekend, the veteran labour politican Tony Benn travelled to Baghdad
to meet and interview the Iraqi President. Tonight we hear why - according to
Saddam - Iraq has no interest in war and possesses NO weapons of mass

Here is the transcript:

Tony 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 Hussein: Welcome to Baghdad. You are conscious of the role that Iraqis
have set out for themselves, inspired by their own culture, their
civilisation 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.

Tony Benn: Mr President, may I ask you some questions. The first is, does
Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?

Saddam Hussein: 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.

Tony Benn: I have another which has been raised: do you have links with Al

Saddam Hussein: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 Qaeda.

Tony Benn: In relation to the inspectors, there appears 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 Mr
Hans Blix and Mr Elbaradei come back to Baghdad?

Saddam Hussein: 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 thirteen 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 is
concerned, the Iraqis have been fulfilling their obligations under the

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

If those concerned prefer aggression then it's within their reach. The super
powers 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?

Tony Benn: May I broaden the question out, Mr President, to the relations
between Iraq and the UN, 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 UN can reach that objective for the benefit of

Saddam Hussein: 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 super powers - 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.

Tony Benn:There are people who believe this present conflict is about oil,
and I wonder if you 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 Hussein: 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 US 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 US 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 US administratio
ns, 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 pre-requisite
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 UN charter.

It seems that this argument has appealed to some US 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 US
administration and is based on its wish to control the world and spread its

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 co-operation 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 US but we can't claim that it serves the interest
of the American people in the long run or other nations.

Tony 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 ten 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 Hussein: 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 criticise 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.

Interview background:

Saddam -- rarely interviewed, rarely appears in public, knows he's a target,
assassination a permanent fear.

Tony Benn -- focus of the anti-war cause in Britain, though he's no longer in

When last they met, on the eve of the first Gulf War, the Allies were
preparing to liberate Kuwait. Their meeting didn't stop the war, though Mr
Benn returned with 15 British hostages held by Saddam as human shields.

This time, the die already appears cast. Mr Benn arrived in Baghdad this
weekend in the wake of the Bush/Blair summit. Still time for diplomacy, they
said, but no one doubts the Americans willingness to go to war.

As Colin Powell takes his much trailed "new evidence" to the UN, the
pressure's mounting on Saddam to convince Hans Blix and his team of
inspectors of a new and sudden era of cooperation. Barring that, or his
sudden demise, war seems inevitable.

What we normally see of Iraq's President are staged Cabinet meetings - fed to
the world by Iraqi TV.

This is the first time in this crisis Saddam Hussein has faced questions from
a foreign visitor - albeit one known to be anti-war. Every word, every nuance
will be eagerly scrutinised across the world.

Tony Benn knew full well the interest in his promised encounter. The
questions are his. and he thinks the answers make war less likely.

Saddam continues to turn down all requests from journalists, but he wanted
his interview with Mr Benn to appear worldwide.

An Iraqi camera-crew filmed the interview and the tapes were given to a
London-based television production company ATV.

Channel 4 News paid ATV for access to the material to prepare this broadcast.

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