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by Tariq Aziz (gelich [at]
Sunday Nov 19th, 2000 1:19 PM
Vice Prime Minister of Iraq Tariq Aziz analyzes sanctions and Western policy.

Speech by Tariq Aziz, Vice Prime Minister of Iraq.

Concluding remarks by Margareta Papendreou, former First Lady of Greece, and
head of the Papendreou delegation to Iraq.
Questions by delegation members Donn Lovett, Felicity Arbuthnot and Gregory

Baghdad, November 12, 2000.

Transcribed and edited by Gregory Elich.

[Aziz] Madame Margareta Papendreou, ladies and gentlemen,
It\'s a great honor and pleasure for me to meet with you this evening,
and I apologize in the beginning for being a bit late, because we were busy
with the meeting of the follow-up and core committees of the Baghdad
conference. The Baghdad conference is dealing with the same subjects which
you are concerned about: that is, the embargo imposed on Iraq and continuous
aggression on Iraq, as well as the situation in Palestine and the
international issues which many freedom-lovers in the world are concerned
about. I welcome you on behalf of the people and leadership of Iraq, and
your courageous and significant trip to Baghdad to show solidarity with the
Iraqi people in those difficult circumstances. For our Greek friends, I am
not astonished, because historically the people of Iraq and the people of
Greece have had strong relations that go back millenniums. And in those
ages and last decades, we have had very good relations between our two
countries: relations in all fields, political and economic, cultural and
other fruitful fields of cooperation. So we know that the Greek people
carry the same feelings as many other friends in the world towards their
friends in Iraq. And I also welcome the American and Canadian participants,
and we hope that they will see this country as it is and make their own
conclusions about the situation separate from what they hear from the media
in the United States and Canada.
The question of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iraq has
gradually become an international issue. The Baghdad conference, which has
been meeting since 1999 regularly each six months - the main slogan of the
conference is that \'Aggression and the embargo on Iraq is an Arab and
international issue.\' Because this case - the imposition of the embargo on
Iraq - is actually the result of the current international situation. As
all politicians know that before 1990, on very few occasions the United
Nations imposed sanctions on any country. There was the example of
Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and there was the example of the apartheid regime in
South Africa. And when you compare those sanctions imposed on those two
countries in the seventies and the eighties; you compare them with the
sanctions imposed on Iraq, that\'s quite a pleasure because actually they
were mild sanctions and there wasn\'t a force behind imposing them. It was
left to the countries themselves and the world to implement those sanctions
or even not implement them. But since 1990, a number of sanctions have been
imposed by the Security Council and the so-called New World Order and the
Americans, using their power - military power, economic power, political
power and influence - to impose those sanctions. Around us, for instance,
in the Gulf waters there are warships, airplanes to prevent even ordinary
trips to Iraq, ordinary cargoes and interfere with them. So the situation
here is quite different.
You and your part of Europe have witnessed the sanctions imposed on
Yugoslavia, which created a lot of suffering in the Balkans. Therefore,
when we say that this embargo is an international issue, it is quit horrid.
It\'s not just anti-American propaganda. It\'s the truth. Had the
international scene been different, as it was before the nineties, maybe the
results would have been quite different. But this is the fact: that since
the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the so-called Cold War, a
new hot war and warm war has been imposed on many nations, and at the
forefront this nation: the people of Iraq.
Those sanctions continued for ten years, and I have to admit, frankly,
that we don\'t have any prospects for lifting them by a decision to be taken
by the Security Council. The Security Council is a body in which five
permanent members have the privilege of the veto. They can veto any
demarche towards easing or lifting the sanctions. There have been some
efforts in this regard by a number of countries; even permanent members of
the Security Council like France, Russia and China, and other non-permanent
members during the past few years. But on each occasion, those demarches
were blocked by the American veto, and supported by the British veto as
well. So, we are not expecting in the coming period that there will be a
decision taken by the Security Council to change this situation. In spite
of all the reports that were made by the humanitarian agencies, by United
Nations agencies and even by commissions which were created by the Security
Council itself, informing the Security Council about the sufferings of the
Iraqi people, and the deaths of millions of children, the deterioration of
the Iraqi economy, etc., etc. There has been a lot of material on that,
many of which as I said is either official or semi-official and the
paperwork of the Security Council. But in the end, the American veto
stopped any movement towards changing this situation.
Not only the situation in Iraq is not changing because of American
intransigence, but there are a lot of international situations which are of
the same character. Anyhow, this is a fact. But at the same time, in spite
of this hegemonic policy of the United States, there is something very, very
important. That is the will of the peoples of the world. First, there\'s
the will of the people of Iraq, who have been the victim of this situation.
The people of Iraq and the leadership of Iraq have decided from the very
beginning to protect their independence and sovereignty and dignity, and
they refused to yield to American pressure and to American blackmail. They
suffered, yes. But that price which is being paid by the people of Iraq is
worth their objectives: sovereignty, independence and dignity. But there is
also the will of other peoples. There are a number of facts in this
situation contrary to the position of the imperialists. The first fact,
which is global and humanitarian in nature, is that all free women and men
in this world don\'t support injustice. They don\'t support a policy which
inflicts death and suffering to other people. This is not the first case.
We remember quite well how the majority of the international public opinion
stood strongly against the war in Vietnam which they thought, rightly, was
an aggression and it led to death and destruction of a nation. And many,
many people in Europe, in Asia and Africa and Latin America, even in the
United States itself, they went to the streets and they denounced the
American aggression on Vietnam. We also witnessed the worldwide support for
the Palestinian issue: the support to the Palestinian people and its
legitimate struggle for independence and freedom. And so it is quite
obvious to us that all free women and men in the world sympathize with the
cause of Iraq for moral reasons and out of moral motives.
Of course, there is the power of propaganda, the power of the American
media which manipulates the facts. But there is an Arab saying which can
hardly be translated into English but might look understandable. That\'s
\'The rope of lying is short.\' Well, there has been ten years of lying about
the situation in Iraq, about the origins of the conflict, about the behavior
of this party or the other. But after ten years, a lot of facts have become
known to the peoples of the world, to the international community, and
especially to those who are keenly interested in such humanitarian
situations as the Iraqi situation. Therefore, in the last few years the
support to Iraq has been increasing and in this year it has been increasing
dramatically. And the flights to Baghdad - as your courageous decision to
come - are symbols of how the world feels towards Iraq and the suffering of
the Iraqi people, and how they feel against the American position, the
American intransigence, and the falsification even of the decisions they
make themselves in the Security Council. They speak about an air embargo
of civilian flights while such an embargo does not exist even in the
Security Council resolutions. But it was imposed as a de facto situation
after the Gulf war; and because of the American influence and American
blackmail to governments around us, it has become a de facto situation. But
gradually people started to revolt against it. They said, \'Well, there\'s no
embargo. Iraq has right to enjoy air flights like other nations in the
world. Why should the situation remain like that because the Americans and
British want it to be?\' So gradually, one by one, in the Arab world, from
Europe, from Russia, from other parts of the world, people have come to Iraq
by planes against the American and British will, to protest against this
injustice and to show solidarity with their brethren in Iraq.
On the other hand, there is a fact. Iraq has been a good partner to
many nations in the world. In the eighties I was foreign minister of this
country, and I know what our relations were with countries from Japan to the
other side of Latin America - the western coast of Latin America. Our
relations - economic relations, cultural relations, political relations -
covered all continents; even the United States itself. And Iraq is rich
with its resources, and an active nation, so we know a lot of people, lot of
nations. Hundreds and thousands of people, companies, plants all over the
world have been working with Iraq and making legitimate profits. So, when
the embargo was imposed it was not only Iraq who lost in terms of money, but
the other partners of Iraq also have lost. Greece is an example, I think.
The business community in Greece knows very well how much its business was
in Iraq, and it was legitimate business, quite normal between nations, and
because of American policy this business has ceased to exist. The same in
Italy, Spain, France, Russia, China, India, Brazil and we can mention scores
of names. So one year, two years, five years, people were waiting that
there might be some change in the Security Council attitude towards Iraq.
Maybe this trip of this politician, this committee, made by the Security
Council is coming to find a solution, but in the end they find that there is
no change, that the American veto and the British veto are stopping any kind
of demarche towards a movement in this unacceptable situation which is
causing losses to the Iraqis as well as to our partners all over the world.
So people have become fed up with this situation and they say, \'Enough is
enough. Okay, we waited for you to change but in the end you are
intransigent. Then we have to act.\' And people started to act.
Iraq is under sanctions. The Iraqi trade fair, which was an annual
occasion, used to receive a great number of participants in the past, before
the embargo. After the embargo, of course nobody came. We were not in the
mood of reopening this international fair, but I think four or five years
ago we decided to reopen it. This year, in the beginning of November, 1,500
and more international companies participated in this international fair.
Forty five countries from different continents participated in this fair
because simply people would like to do business with Iraq, which is quite
normal and legitimate, and they are not ready to wait for the American
government to change, because it\'s not going to change. So for moral
reasons, moral motives on the one hand, which is very important to us and
which is very strong and becoming more and more strong, and for the
legitimate interests, motives and objectives, the sanctions regime is
Until now, the Americans and the British have not got the message.
Actually, the Americans are busy with the circus of their elections, but the
British government and especially those in the foreign office are getting
lately furious, you see. They are attacking everybody who\'s flying to Iraq.
Usually the British are supposed to be cool, except in this situation they
are becoming very hot and furious, attacking and even using bad words,
name-calling and other outrageous means to describe the initiatives taken by
governments and organizations and individuals. Many of them are very well
known to their communities as well as to the international community that
they are very well respected people, women and men, and when they take such
decisions to take a plane and come to Baghdad, they should have very good
reasons for that. But nevertheless, the British Foreign Office is becoming
furious and, as I said, resorting to outrageous language in describing the
situation. That\'s because they realize that their embargo is cracking, and
this has a significant result in the international situation.
Ten years ago, we have been listening to writers and analysts who would
tell us that history is over; that history from now on is the American
history. This is pax Americana. And what the Americans decide with their
close allies is the dictate of the present and the future. So those who are
realistic should accept the situation and those who do not accept it are
rogue nations. They used this word for a while, although they changed it
for a specific reason. Rogue nations. Now they realize that this new
imperialism is not working. It is still powerful. We have to admit that,
but it is not as powerful as they pictured it ten years or eight years or
five years ago. So the will of the people, the will of independence, the
will of justice among the international community is growing and forcing
itself on the international situation, and one of its important reflections
is seen here in Iraq.
Well, I apologize. I don\'t mean to turn this meeting into a political
lecture, but this is the situation as we see it and despite of our suffering
for the last ten years we feel that we have achieved something important.
Something important to us as well as to the international community, because
when a nation succeeds in refusing the dictate of imperialists, when a
nation succeeds in protecting, preserving its sovereignty, its independence
and dignity, that is an achievement.
I welcome you again on behalf of the people of Iraq and the leadership
of Iraq, and I hope that your visit will encourage us more to go in the
right direction. I hope that you will collect enough information about the
situation and to compare those information and the convictions you reach
about them with what you have been hearing from the manipulated media,
especially the United States and Canada, and make your own judgment. Free
judgment. This is very important when we speak about human rights. One of
the basic human rights is that you have the right to make your own judgment,
out of your own resources, not to buy judgments made by others which might
not be honest and true. So I hope that you will use this short visit to
know what is going on in this country and what the realities are. I thank
you once again for visiting us. You are welcome. I wish you a good stay,
and when you return my best regards to all your friends and families and
relatives. Thank you.

[Papendreou] I thought my speeches were over, but I\'m glad to say just a
few words. It\'s very important to us to have this briefing from Mr. Aziz.
He\'s well known around the world for his ability to communicate, and his
kindness and his appreciation of everything that other people do for this
country. So I think that this is a fit almost ending - we have tomorrow
morning yet - of what has been a very important visit, and very significant
for those of us who want to go back and communicate these things in our own
countries. We have a rich arsenal of material now and we were fortunate
also to have the best of our mass media from Greece covering this event. So
I\'m sure - apart from what they have been sending these days - we will be
seeing for some days, information and pictures and images of this trip. And
we want to use the mass media to tell the truth - not to manipulate people.
So with that I will say thank you so much for coming on the part of all of
us. I think I should mention too that we have a good delegation from Great
Britain in our group and they\'re very active. Some of them are staying on
for some days, so they will continue to find out the things that maybe we
weren\'t able to get at during the short time, but we can always bring
another plane. So thank you.

[Moderator] Ladies and gentlemen, my dear Madame Papendreou,
She said it all. So, in your name we thank very, very much Mr. Tariq
Aziz for his eloquent way of explaining our situation. Thank you very much
Mr. Tariq Aziz. Any questions or comments?

[Lovett] It\'s Donn Lovett from Canada. Mr. Aziz, could you confirm to the
delegations who are here the urgency of what needs to be done once we
return, because it\'s my understanding that last night there was another
attack in Basra by a U.S. plane that hit a school, injuring four children
and three teachers, one of whom was a women. (1) Could you confirm that

[Aziz] Well, there is an economic embargo as you know, which is very well
known and it has been publicized largely - the international media,
especially the independent or semi-independent media - but that is the
continuous military aggression on Iraq by the Americans and the British. In
their Security Council resolutions, there is no mention of a no-fly zone in
Iraq. The war ceased in the end of February 1991, and there was no air
embargo or so-called no-fly zone in the country. In April, the Americans
and the British, with the participation of France at that time, imposed a
no-fly zone in the north. And then, in August 1992, they imposed another
one in the south. In 1996, the French withdrew from the north, and in 1998
they withdrew from the south, and the Anglo-Americans only remained imposing
this no-fly zone. While we criticized this, we objected to it, we wrote
letters, messages to the Secretary General of the United Nations, to the
Security Council, to no avail. They remained. In December 1998, the
Americans and the British alone, without any authorization from the Security
Council, conducted an attack against Iraq, as it\'s well known. Missile and
air attack. And so, we decided since then to challenge by military means -
whatever military means available to us - this no-fly zone, because it\'s a
clear, outrageous infringement on our sovereignty. It aims at dividing Iraq
into three parts: the north, the south and the middle. So since then the
Americans and the British have been attacking Iraq - attacking military and
civilian targets, and killing, as the example you just mentioned.
Now, in the first years after the imposition of this embargo, there was
a large silence about it. People didn\'t know about it, and did not complain
about it, except Iraq, which was only one voice in this wilderness. But
since 1998, especially, and after the withdrawal of France from the southern
no-fly zone, three permanent members in the Security Council are saying,
quite clearly, that this is not a decision by the Security Council. This is
illegitimate. It\'s illegal. It\'s a unilateral decision by the
Anglo-Americans and many, many countries, governments, organizations are
saying that. So, we have, out of moral and legal reasons, to struggle
against this no-fly zone and to stop the killing. Stop the killing, which
is taking place and destruction which is taking place against Iraq, as well
as the struggle against the economic sanctions. I think these two
objectives are very important, and I hope that all free women and men in the
world would participate in this legitimate struggle.

[Arbuthnot] First of all, I wanted to say that, thanks to the Herculean
efforts of Madame Papendreou, after 44 journeys up and down the Baghdad road
in the last ten years, I finally flew in yesterday, and it was a day I
thought I\'d never see. I\'m still recovering from the shock. I\'ve written
over the years about the horrors I find every time I come here. There\'s
something new, because as the infrastructure collapses - it\'s not just the
collapse of the infrastructure. People make home-made lamps to see by
because the electricity goes off and so, there\'s an epidemic of burns and
the water gets worse, and as children recover they go back to the water
system that made them worse in the first place. All through blocked
However, what I found this time - I came to a country, and for the first
time I found hope. I saw the windows were cleaned and the shops gleaming
cleaned, and that shutters had been repainted. Everybody is saying to me,
\'We did it. You know, it\'s getting better. The flights are coming in.\'
And everyone says, \'Every time another flight comes in, there\'s tears in our
eyes.\' And this is incredible. The embargo is crumbling from within, as
has been predicted by Iraq for a long time.
However, as I understand it, your Excellency, today was a decision with
[UN General Secretary] Kofi Annan about son of UNSCOM [United Nations
Special Commission] coming back in. The new UNSCOM. And in spite of the
interview you were kind enough to give me about 18 months ago, and you said,
\'Lift the embargo and send the weapons inspectors back in.\' But subsequent
to that, it has been discovered that - the depth, if you will, of the games
that UNSCOM has played. I wouldn\'t second-guess Iraq. However, it seems to
me that the likelihood of them ever, ever, ever being allowed in again and
the same [unintelligible] game is slim or nil. And anyway, 1284 talks about
suspending, not lifting the embargo.
Given that Britain and America have now boxed themselves in, given that
there is no way, short of bombing the airport, that they can stop this
unstoppable flow of flights and the unravelling of the embargo, do you think
that this is an option? Will they use the refusal, if this happens, of the
new UNSCOM coming in as an excuse to bomb Iraq again, with the airport as
the first target? And my final comment: if so, they would be beneath
contempt. I think two rogue states, and I wondered what your thoughts were.

[Aziz] Well, Madame, as you know, in that resolution there were conditions
very hard. Unprecedented conditions imposed on Iraq. Nevertheless, in
order to avoid more destruction and in order to get rid of the sanctions
which were imposed, we implemented that resolution and we worked with the
Security Council and with UNSCOM for seven and a half years, from April 1991
to December 1998. Hoping that there will be a change in the regime of
sanctions to the benefit of the people of Iraq, but for seven and a half
years this did not happen. UNSCOM, as I said, worked for this very, very
long period, destroying arms, destroying firms and industries, inspecting
each and every place in the country. Even monasteries. Even mosques. Even
kindergartens, not to speak of industries and military camps. They
collected millions of documents. They interviewed thousands of officials in
all walks of life, and in the end they said, \'We have not finished our job.\'
In the last month, when they were working here between the 15th of November
and the 15th of December, they conducted more than 400 activities: different
inspections, interviews, flights, etc. There was a disagreement between
Iraq and UNSCOM on four events only. Four activities. If you calculate the
figures, you will realize that the degree of cooperation between Iraq and
UNSCOM was 99 percent positively, because there were more than 400 and the
disagreement was about four events, activities. In any case, when you reach
the degree of 99 positive, you\'d be recommended, given a medal, given thank
you at least. We got bombs and missiles. Because the Anglo-Americans
interpreted the situation and that was a lack of cooperation. That Iraq
failed to cooperate with UNSCOM because only four activities were not
implemented, and the other 400 were perfectly done.
Well, you know, you are women and men of the world. You know what was
happening in December 1998. It was the Monica Lewinsky scandal. So the
bombing of Iraq was not because of the interpretation of UN resolutions. It
was not because of the failure of Iraq\'s cooperation with UNSCOM. It was
because of an individual situation encompassing the American president.
Nevertheless, he did it. He did it. In the front of the whole
international community, and another supposedly civilized nation, Britain,
participated in that crime against our country. So this shows that the
question is not international law. The question is not the implementation
of UN resolutions. The question is the American policy against Iraq. Until
now, the American administration says, flagrantly, and invests millions of
dollars, in its attempt to topple the patriotic leadership of Iraq. They
make it clear. And when people ask them - journalists in press
conferences - what about UN resolutions, they say, \'The Iraqi government has
to implement all UN resolutions, but the Iraqi government should change and
another government should come.\' So this is a vicious circle. How could
you deal with such circumstances?
Therefore, resolution 1284 is not a solution. We read it from A to Z.
You don\'t find a solution in it. The promise of suspension is a vague
promise, and it could last for decades without being achieved. They
deliberately created this mess. Three permanent members in the Security
Council did not vote for that resolution, which is significant because they
had serious reasons for that. That\'s not a solution. Therefore, the new
UNSCOM or the new body which was created by the Security Council is called
UNMOVIC [UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] is not
coming back to Iraq. What should be done now is lifting the sanctions.
Lifting the sanctions. That is the decision that has to be made. We are
not expecting the Security Council to take it. But it will be done. It
will be done by the will of the people of the world. By the will of the
freedom lovers. By the will of those nations who are suffering from the
embargo, as the Iraqis are suffering. In spite of all the power of the
United States, the United States is not God. It\'s not the Almighty. It\'s
an imperialist force. It can inflict a lot of mischief, but it\'s not the
Almighty. Therefore, we will continue our struggle to preserve, as I\'ve
said, our sovereignty, and dignity and our national interests.

[Elich] I have two questions. The first question is: Soon the pipeline to
Syria will resume pumping oil. Has there been any interference by the West
in this plan? My second question: Last month, Iranian foreign minister
Kamal Karrazi visited Baghdad. I\'m interested to know what issues were
discussed, and what do you see as the prospects for better relations with

[Aziz] Well, as regards the first question, until now to my knowledge, the
pipeline is working or is near to be working. There were some vague
statements by the Americans and the British. The West in general has
nothing to do with this question. But they could not stop it, because this
is a legitimate dealing between neighborly nations. Syria has serious
economic stakes in Iraq, and we do have the same interests also in Syria,
and our dealing with Syria is quite legitimate.
As regards Iran, there are some complications in this matter, you see.
There has been a war, which lasted for eight years, and wars bring their own
consequences and complications. The most painful result of that war, which
is still existing, is the situation of the Iraqi prisoners of war in Iran.
(2) This has not yet been resolved. And we hope that after the visit of Mr.
Karrazi to Baghdad, which was a positive one, that we will find a way to
restore all our prisoners of war. Some of them have been there for 20
years. Twenty years, because the war started in 1980, ended in 1988, and
now we are living in the late 2000. So, we hope that the Iranians will
cooperate faithfully and resolve this humanitarian, painful issue. There
are other political, let us say economic, issues. They are not of the same
importance to us as the humanitarian one, but we hope by good faith and by
reasonable efforts to solve them. I cannot give you a definitive answer,
yes or no, because the process is still going on, and we hope that, as I
said, good faith will prevail in the end.

1.) At 12:15 PM on November 12, Western warplanes fired four missiles at the
village of Hmaidi in the southern province of Basra. One of the missiles
struck the Ali Al-Hayaini school, wounding four children and three teachers.
Several houses were also damaged in the attack.
2.) Iraq also holds Iranian prisoners of war. An additional problem is
armed exile groups operating from each country. On November 10, the Iraqi
and Iranian foreign ministers met for follow-up talks in Qatar and agreed to
work toward full normalization of relations. Five joint committees will be
established to further the process.

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