TRANSCRIPT: RUBIN, INDYK BRIEF ON REPORT ON SADDAM HUSSEIN'S IRAQ
(Report shows regime is responsible for Iraq's troubles)
September 14, 1999
State Department Spokesman James Rubin and Assistant Secretary of State Martin
Indyk briefed reporters September 13 on a report the State Department has
released entitled "Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
The report is available on the Internet at http://www.usia.gov/regional/nea/nea.htm in both English and Arabic.
The report, according to Rubin, "shows conclusively that Saddam Hussein
continues to violently repress his own people; continues to neglect the needs of
his own people by obstructing the (U.N.) oil-for-food program, while his regime
exports food and diverts resources for resorts and palaces for family members
and close supporters; and that he maintains his goal of rebuilding his weapons
of mass destruction so that he can threaten his neighbors."
"Saddam Hussein's Iraq" contains recently declassified photographs of the
destruction of the Shi'a village of Al-Masha, near Basra, by the Iraqi army in
late June and of the Kirkuk Citadel which was also almost entirely wiped out by
The report also shows the new resort city of Saddamiat al Tharthar, which Saddam
built and which Rubin described as a "sprawling lakeside vacation resort that
features stadiums, an amusement park, special hospitals for the elite and
several hundred homes for government officials."
Asked whether there was evidence that Iraq had begun to reconstitute its weapons
of mass destruction since the U.N. weapons inspectors were banned from the
country late last year, Indyk replied: "We are watching Saddam Hussein's
activities as closely as we can with national means. ... And we have made it
clear in our declaratory policy that, should we find evidence of a
reconstitution of weapons of mass destruction or a deployment of weapons of mass
destruction that he may well still have, then that will constitute a crossing of
our red lines and we will use force to take care of that problem definitively."
Asked to evaluate Saddam's overall strength, Indyk said: "what we see is that,
in our estimation, Saddam is more on the defensive; he's weaker, more isolated
both internationally and domestically; that his base of support is narrowing;
that he has a problem meeting the needs of his regime supporters; that he's had
to take resources away from the people and provide them to his Ba'ath Party
cadres and others in order to maintain their support.
Following is the State Department transcript:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
September 13, 1999
ON-THE-RECORD BRIEFING BY SPOKESMAN JAMES P. RUBIN AND
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS MARTIN INDYK
REPORT ON SADDAM HUSSEIN'S IRAQ
RUBIN: Today we have a special briefing, in which we'll be able to release a
report that the Department of State has put together. I'm going to review the
essential elements of the report and show you some photography, and then
Assistant Secretary Martin Indyk will be here and with me, available to answer
This report that we're releasing today shows conclusively that Saddam Hussein
continues to violently repress his own people; continues to neglect the needs of
his own people by obstructing the Oil-For-Food program, while his regime exports
food and diverts resources for resorts and palaces for family members and close
supporters; and thirdly, that he maintains his goal of rebuilding his weapons of
mass destruction, so that he can threaten his neighbor.
Let me point to some of the highlights for you. This reports includes recently
declassified imagery, and this imagery demonstrates that the rulers in Baghdad -
- not the international community -- are responsible for the problems, in
particular the humanitarian deprivations in Iraq. Let me show you some
compelling excerpts of the report, and then we'll move to your questions.
This particular photo relates to the Shiia village of Almasha in southern Iraq.
According to the Iraqi National Congress and the Supreme Council of the Islamic
resistance in Iraq, the so-called SCIRI, citizens of Almasha protested against
the failure of Iraq to distribute food and medicine and on June 29, the Iraqi
army entered the village, bulldozed 160 homes and arrested scores of its
These photos substantiate those reports, and provide additional evidence of a
pattern of repression throughout the south, which includes the destruction of
villages and the forcible expulsion of their inhabitants at gunpoint. This
photo here is a photo of the village with the houses intact. You see these
various structures. Those are the houses. You go to July 1999 and in those
same locations you'll see that all of the houses in this area have been razed
The next photo --
QUESTION: Will you tell us the name of the town?
RUBIN: Yes, it's Almasha, A-L-M-A-S-H-A. The next photo relates to the Kirkuk
Citadel, and here we're seeing similar acts of wanton destruction in the north
of Iraq. In the 1970s and 1980s the Iraqi regime destroyed over 3,000 Kurdish
villages. As these photos of the Citadel and Kirkuk taken last year demonstrate,
this destruction is continuing in areas under Saddam Hussein's control.
Now for this photo I recommend you orient yourself to that mosque there and this
mosque over there, and then if you find the same mosque here and here and you
look around it, you will see that whole areas -- over there and over here and
over here -- have been razed and destroyed and bulldozed. These are the photos
in September 1997 and photos afterwards in July of 1998.
Now, turning to the next photo, let me say that while Saddam's security forces
demolished the homes of hundreds of ordinary families, his engineers build
vacation villages for regime loyalists. This past April, Vice President Ramadan
inaugurated the resort city of Saddamiat al Tharthar. Located 85 miles west of
Baghdad, Saddamiat al Tharthar is a sprawling lakeside vacation resort that
features stadiums, an amusement park, special hospitals for the elite and
several hundred homes for government officials.
Despite its claims that the people of Iraq are dying due to a lack of food and
medicine, Saddam Hussein doesn't hesitate to spend hundreds of millions of
dollars for the entertainment of Ba'th Party officials and cadres. This is in
addition to all the palaces that Saddam has had built for himself. You may
remember that we have estimated somewhere on the order of $2 billion has been
spent by Saddam Hussein for 48 palaces.
Looking at this photo, let me just show them some of the points here. This is a
manmade lake. This is a stadium. That is also a stadium there. This is an
amusement park, and I believe that square in the middle where the pointer is
right now is their very own Ferris wheel. This is the hospital where the elite
are able to get special medical care that the Iraqis normally claim is
unavailable to the people of Iraq.
Let's move now to some of the charts.
The point we are coming to now is the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and what we
can demonstrate to you about the causes for that crisis. We often hear that
sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people. But an analysis -- an objective
analysis of the facts -- reveals that Iraq has access to international markets
and the money to buy food. But Saddam will not buy or distribute it to the
needy. Food imports are at pre-war levels; oil revenues have risen to near-pre
-war levels but Saddam refuses to use this revenue to buy more food and much of
what is delivered to Iraq is not distributed.
This leads to an important conclusion. If Saddam Hussein gets control of more
money, he won't use it to help the Iraqi people. The reason the Iraqi people
don't receive a large percentage of the humanitarian supplies that are delivered
is because the regime is not distributing these supplies. Of the goods
delivered to Iraq under the Oil-for-Food program, as you can see from this chart,
the government has failed to distribute about 50 percent of the medicines,
about 60 percent of the supplies for clean water and agriculture, and 40 percent
for education. The UN is working to reduce these distribution delays.
The blue bars are -- again, looking at the title -- what is undistributed. So
in northern Iraq, where the United Nations controls the distribution, you can
see that far less of the water, medicine, food, agriculture and electricity goes
undistributed. So what we see here is a situation where Saddam Hussein is
clearly not allowing the food, medicine and water to be distributed that would
improve the lot of the Iraqi people.
Turning now to the next chart, the Iraqi food imports. Food imports are at pre
-war levels. Let me repeat that: They're at pre-war levels. Those of you who
continue to hear from the Iraqis that the sanctions are preventing them from
having food should just keep that simple thought in mind. They are importing
the same amount of food that they imported prior to their invasion of Kuwait.
Despite Saddam Hussein's neglect of his own people, the international community
is seeing to it that the Iraqi people have access to much-needed food, medicines
and other humanitarian goods. Of course we can do more to stop the Iraqi regime
from obstructing such supplies, but clearly to the extent that food and medicine
is getting in, it is because of the efforts of the international community. As
you can see there again in 1978 and -- sorry -- 1997 and 1998, the food import
level, in millions of dollars, is almost identical to the food import level in
1988 and 1989, which were the years immediately prior to the invasion of Kuwait.
Let's go to the next chart.
Food imports could be even higher. Although Iraq's revenues from oil exports
under the Oil-for-Food program have increased, from two billion dollars in the
early phases of the program to a projected six billion dollars for the current
six-month phase, its food purchases have remained flat. In short, the more
money they're getting, they are not spending more of it on the food that the
Iraqi people need, and that Iraq continues to complain they're not getting.
Although the current program provides the UN-recommended daily amount of
calories, Saddam could bring caloric intake to pre-war levels if he chose to use
the money available to do so. UN sanctions have never limited or prohibited
imports of food and medicine. They are now able to generate more and more
revenues, and they are simply not using their revenues for their own people.
Obviously some of the revenues that they are generating domestically, as opposed
to the money for the Oil-for-Food program, they're using for wasteful programs
to allow the elite to ride their own Ferris wheels, have their own private
doctors, and go to their own sports stadiums.
The fact is that in Iraq, Saddam Hussein controls everything. He decides who
gets what, and he has decided to deprive the Iraqi people of many basic
requirements, while providing luxuries and their very own Ferris wheels to a
small clique of regime supporters. With respect to its neighbors, the Iraqi
regime is defiant and unreconstructed. It has not fully complied with any
Security Council resolution, and remains a threat to its people and the region.
By failing to improve the living conditions of his people, Saddam Hussein has
demonstrated that, should sanctions be lifted, he will simply use the extra
resources to rearm or build more palaces.
The United States and the international community are determined to do
everything possible to contain Saddam Hussein and help the people of Iraq. We
are working in the Security Council on a resolution that would resume Iraq's
disarmament and make the Oil-for-Food program even more effective. We, for our
part, want to minimize Saddam Hussein's ability to manipulate the Oil-for-Food
program so that it can reach its full potential to help the Iraqi people and we
will continue our support for those Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq who are
working towards a new government, because it is only that new government that
can end the tyranny and the terror that the people of Iraq are living in, and
the terrible living conditions that he has imposed, by his failure to use the
resources the international community has made available.
That is a summary of the report. You will all have a chance to study it
yourselves. If you have any questions, maybe Martin, you would like to join me
up here, and we could try to answer your questions.
Q: This is a description of an autocratic regime. There are other autocratic
INDYK: Brutal, ruthless autocratic regime.
Q: There are others and the United States deals with them. Part of US policy,
the policy of squeezing Iraq, was based on what they might be doing so far as
developing weapons of mass destruction. That was a threat beyond what they do
to their own people. The machinery has been dismantled. Can you bring us up to
date as to how the Administration perceives what Iraq may be up to, now that
it's unobserved in these chemical, biological and possibly even nuclear
programs? Do you have any hope for ever getting back in there? And if I can
throw in one more, can you ever see sanctions being lifted so long as Saddam
Hussein is in power? Ekeus said no two years ago.
INDYK: We are watching Saddam Hussein's activities as closely as we can with
national means, given the fact that the international community does not have
inspectors on the ground, and we have made it clear, in our declaratory policy,
that should we find evidence of a reconstitution of weapons of mass destruction,
or a deployment of weapons of mass destruction that he may well still have, then
that will constitute a crossing of our red lines and we will use force to take
care of that problem definitively.
In terms of getting the inspectors back in, Saddam Hussein, of course, is in
flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions in his refusal to
allow inspections. There is an effort underway to reach a consensus in the
Security Council on the approach to disarmament -- the remaining disarmament
tasks that are needed to be fulfilled, and the establishment of an ongoing
monitoring system. That would include a resolution which called for the
reintroduction of an UNSCOM-type, UNSCOM-like organization with inspectors.
Already, there are a majority of the Security Council members in support of this
resolution. This is called the British-Dutch draft. The British will be
hosting a meeting of the P-5 political directors on Wednesday in London, to try
to bring the Russians, French and Chinese on board, and then we would expect
that this will be pursued on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
But it is our hope that we can achieve a consensus within the Council on putting
the inspectors back in and, by the way, a number of other issues including
humanitarian issues. So that it will be clear that the consensus has been re
-established within the Council, and that it will be up to Saddam Hussein as to
whether he will then comply again. But as I said before, in the absence of
inspectors on the ground, we do what we can to monitor the situation, and we
make absolutely clear that should he ever bring those weapons out or
reconstitute them and we get evidence of that, then we will use force to take
care of them.
Q: Have those programs been progressing to the extent you can tell us?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDYK: We do not, at this point, have evidence of any kind
of action to reconstitute those weapons of mass destruction. But I just want to
remind you that, even when UNSCOM was up and operating, there was very real
concern, particularly in the last year, about what he was concealing, and what
he was doing that the inspectors could not get access to. So even with
inspectors on the ground, it's not a foolproof system and it certainly wasn't in
the last year of the inspections.
You asked a number of other questions.
Q: Can sanctions ever be lifted so long as he's there, based on his track
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDYK: We have made clear that what is required here for
sanctions to be lifted is full compliance with all Security Council resolutions.
It's been nine years -- or a little less than nine years. I think the
expectation of the international community -- our expectation -- was that Iraq
would comply with the Security Council resolutions within six months of the end
of the Gulf War. I think there is a pretty good track record now of a clear
refusal on Saddam's part to comply, and now he's in flagrant violation of the UN
Security Council resolutions, and what you're talking about is a purely
We do not see him complying; there's no evidence that he's going to comply and,
therefore, it is essential to find ways, as we have done through the oil-for
-food arrangements that Jamie has described to you that are now working, to find
a way to lift the burden of the sanctions off the backs of the Iraqi people
while maintaining the sanctions on the regime of Saddam Hussein, so as to deny
him the ability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction; to rebuild his
armed forces; to threaten his neighbors and people in the future.
RUBIN: Let me just add two quick points and then go to Robin. On the question
of what we know, Martin accurately described that they haven't crossed the
threshold, because he accurately described what would happen if they do. That
doesn't mean that we don't have some serious concerns about some activities
going on within Iraq that we are endeavoring to watch as closely as we can in
the absence of inspectors, but there's a limit to what we can know in the
absence of inspectors. But we do have some serious concerns about certain
activities, but they haven't yet crossed that threshold.
Secondly, I would summarize Martin's point as saying it's extremely difficult to
imagine a scenario in which Saddam Hussein is complying with all the elements of
the Security Council resolutions that are at issue here, given the eight-and-a
-half years in which he's been violating them.
Q: Can you first of all address some of the pictures we saw? How does this
differ from his behavior in the past? Secondly, why is he engaged in it? Is it
related to, for example, the alleged or reported uprising in the south after the
assassination of a Shiite cleric? And, third, nine years after, how do you
evaluate his standing? Is he any more threatened today? Is he stronger perhaps
than he was nine years ago or three years ago?
INDYK: What we see in this pattern of activity is a continuation of the brutal
repression that Saddam Hussein has become infamous for. It is the leitmotiv of
his regime, his brutal repression. We have seen it in the north when he used
gas against the Kurds and we have seen it continuously in the south over the
last eight or nine years.
The specific instances that we showed you photographs of today come in the
context of the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad al Sadr, and a real range of
demonstrations and dissent throughout the south, even stretching up into Baghdad,
over the past six or nine months, in which there has been an ongoing Shiite
revolt, sporadic but nevertheless clearly manifested, in ways that the regime
has had great difficulty in getting control of. What we have also seen is
stepped-up activity by the borough brigades. These are the Iranian-backed
Shiite forces, as relations between Iran and Iraq have deteriorated and the
Iranians have shown a willingness to provide support to the Shiia that has been
absent for many years.
In terms of his overall position, what we see is that, in our estimation, Saddam
is more on the defensive; he is weaker, more isolated, both internationally and
domestically; that his base of support is narrowing; that he has a problem
meeting the needs of his regime supporters; that he has had to take resources
away from the people and provide them to his Ba'ath Party cadres and others in
order to maintain their support.
There are clearly morale problems in the army -- he has even admitted that
himself recently in a speech to the army -- and there are problems within the
family again. That is not new, but it is ongoing. We see many reports of a
great deal of tension within his family.
So I think, overall, he is very much on the defensive. I think that is part of
the reason why we have heard very little from him recently; that he is facing
greater difficulties controlling the south and center of Iraq, which is still in
his area of control and that, overall, he is in a much weaker condition than
Q: Can I just follow that up with one question? Have the Shiia ever been as
active as they are today since the initial uprising after the Gulf War?
INDYK: It's been up and down. There have been, of course, the major uprising,
as you say, after the Gulf War, and then there were several times in which they
stirred up. But as far as I can recall, this is the longest period in which
they have continuously resisted his efforts to suppress them.
Q: There is a perception around the world, and including this country, that all
this policy is doing is starving babies and according to UNICEF 6,000 are dead a
month, and it is doing little if any to the regime or the military and Saddam.
What's wrong with complete separation between the military and civilian
INDYK: Well, can I refer you to -- on the question of child mortality, there is
a chart there -- this is useful, the pages aren't numbered -- but you will see
it's probably on page 5, a chart which shows under five mortality rates in Iraq.
And the interesting thing about this is where the United Nations is responsible
-- it's this chart. Where the United Nations is responsible for the
distribution of food, medicines and nutritional supplements for children -- that
is in northern Iraq, where Saddam Hussein does not control the situation -- you
can see that the mortality rate for children has dropped quite dramatically;
whereas, in the areas where he is responsible, in the south and center of Iraq,
the mortality rate has continued to rise.
There is absolutely no reason why children should be denied nutritional
supplements and medicine. Those medicines and nutritional supplements are
either sitting in warehouses under Saddam Hussein's control, or he has refused
to order them. In fact, he is able to import $25 million for nutritional
supplements under the oil-for-food arrangements; he has spent only $1.7 million
on nutritional supplements.
So what does that tell you about the intentions of Saddam Hussein in this
regard? It is, indeed, to use the plight of Iraqi children as a propaganda
weapon against the sanctions. There is absolutely no reason -- given the
present arrangements -- for that to be happening. And you can see, where in
northern Iraq it is declining, as a perfect example of the way in which he is
controlling the distribution for political purposes.
Q: Can you describe what the US then has been able to accomplish over the last
five or six months with its own program to affect the change in the Iraqi regime
-- the plus part of "containment plus?" Also, is this information here being
broadcast into Iraq through various US channels or will there be an attempt to
distribute this information in the country?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDYK: In terms of our efforts to help the Iraqi people
change their regime, I would just make the first point to underscore that what
we see here, as I said to Robin, is more of the same from Saddam Hussein. Part
of the problem is that the international focus has shifted to other areas --
Kosovo, East Timor and so on -- but he's still doing the same thing against his
own people, and that is one of the reasons why we have concluded that it's time
for him to go; that as long as he's around, nothing is ever going to change in
terms of his brutal, repressive behavior. And that is why President Clinton
announced last year that we would support the Iraqi people in their efforts to
remove Saddam Hussein from power.
You asked what has happened in that regard in the last six months. First of all,
we have worked hard with the Iraqi opposition in exile to bring them together;
to broaden their representation; to get them to put their internal conflicts
behind them, and to unite in the effort to change the regime in Iraq. And a
representative delegation has already come to the United States; it's gone to
other capitals of the Iraqi opposition, and there will be a high-level
delegation in New York for the UN General Assembly, and we expect that, soon
after that, there will be an all-opposition conference where the Iraqi
opposition will come together and launch a new manifesto for a future Iraq
without Saddam Hussein.
In terms of that effort, I think we've come a long way very quickly in reuniting
the opposition and making them more credible, and you will see more of that in
the months to come. We have also announced that we are going ahead with the
draw-down; in this case of non-lethal equipment to help support the activities
of the Iraqi opposition. The Indict Campaign -- the effort to indict Saddam
Hussein as a war criminal -- is now getting underway and we, too, are using our
diplomacy to try to support the establishment of a war crimes commission on
Radio Free Iraq is broadcasting into Iraq on a daily basis, and some of these
issues -- to answer your second question -- will be broadcast into Iraq in that
way. And we are looking at ways now to help support the internal opposition
against Saddam Hussein. Of course, this requires cooperation of Iraq's
neighbors, and we spent a lot of time in the last six months working with them
to insure their support for this effort.
Q: Mr. Indyk, the United States went to the region and against Iraq's invasion
of Kuwait. Now the Arab people and Amre Moussa, the foreign minister of Egypt,
said that there is no reservations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait towards lifting
the Iraqi sanctions. If this is going to realize the stability in the region,
why should the United States oppose that?
INDYK: Well let me say, again, that I think Foreign Minister Moussa's remarks
need to be looked at in their full context. I think they have been taken out of
context. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and our other friends in the Arab world
agree and support the approach that we have been describing to you, whereby the
burden of the sanctions are lifted off the backs of the Iraqi people, but the
sanctions are maintained on the regime of Saddam Hussein; and there is a
consensus in the Arab world in support of that approach, which is to insure that
the needs of the Iraqi people are provided for, as best we can, through the
expansion and streamlining of the oil-for-food arrangements, while maintaining
the sanctions on the regime, because the regime is in flagrant violation of
Security Council resolutions.
If sanctions were simply to be lifted off the regime, it would make a mockery of
the whole process of implementing Security Council resolutions, and there has
never been a willingness on the part of any member of the Security Council to
support that kind of action. You will recall that sanctions were reviewed every
three months, and there has never been a positive vote by any member of the
Security Council in favor of lifting the sanctions, because the regime is in
violation of the resolutions.
Q: Ambassador Indyk, when do you foresee the convening of the Iraqi opposition
conference for Iraq without Saddam? And the second question is: Some critics
are saying that figures in the north are better than the south because of the
existence of tons of NGOs that are working in the north and they don't exist in
INDYK: Yes, I think what we expect is that the opposition conference will take
place in the next two-to-three months. They, of course, will be announcing that
Yes, the operation of NGOs in the north and the operation of the United Nations
in the north is a significant reason why it has been possible to improve the
situation of Iraqi citizens in the north more than in the south and central Iraq,
where Saddam Hussein will not allow the operations of the UN or NGOs to get
involved in this process of food and medicine distribution.
So if we could pressure the Iraqi regime to allow for the United Nations to take
a larger role in the distribution of medicines and food, I think that the
situation of the Iraqi people in the south would improve significantly. That is
a case that we have been making in the Security Council, as something that needs
to be done. By the way, the UN itself believes that if it were given that role,
it would be able to play a more effective role in alleviating the burden of the
problems of the Iraqi people.
Q: First of all, why did the State Department want to do this, sort of, very
public presentation today, and can you talk a little bit about -- you talked
earlier about hoping to reach some sort of consensus in the Security Council.
What sort of consensus do you think you're set to reach there given sort of the
traditional opposition by some of the other members of the Security Council to
tough sanctions on Iraq?
INDYK: In terms of why now, I think that there are two basic reasons. First,
we've been able to get some recent information and get these photographs
declassified, and we wanted to bring them to your attention and the attention of
the international community, particularly at a time when the UN is about to
convene its general assembly, and obviously the subject of Iraq is going to be
on the minds of many of the world's leaders.
The second reason is that we believe that by shining a spotlight on what Saddam
Hussein is doing to his people, by countering the endless propaganda that comes
out of Baghdad in this regard, we do have an effect on the way that the regime
behaves. So, for example, after the UNICEF report came out, and we publicized
the fact that there was such a discrepancy between what Saddam Hussein could
order, has ordered, and what he has distributed for the children of southern and
central Iraq, suddenly there was an improvement in both the ordering of food and
medicines for the children and nutritional supplements, and the distribution.
We believe that it is very important to keep the attention of the world focused
on this brutal regime, because in that way we can help to insure that he is
deterred from some actions, and that, overall, the system is maintained in a way
that helps to produce the end result, which is the removal of Saddam from power
and an end to this misery for all concerned.
Q: A little bit on the Indict Campaign at this stage. In the past, the United
States was somewhat reluctant or not really very enthusiastic about pursuing the
indict -- the kind of Indict Campaign and to bring up charges against the Iraqi
regime and committing war crimes. Are you really now full throttle in this
effort, and are you focusing only on Saddam and his brothers, Saddam and his
sons? Because you are, I'm sure, very well aware of the fact that there are
people in the region who believe that the United States was never serious in
pursuing the regime to get rid of it completely. Could you elaborate on that?
INDYK: Right. We are providing significant funding -- we can get you the exact
figures, but hundreds of thousands of dollars -- to Indict Campaign and various
other organizations focused on indicting Saddam Hussein as a war criminal. Our
own war crimes people, David Scheffer and his people, are taking up the issue
with their counterparts. We are, as I said before, working with other countries
who share our concerns to try to build a consensus in favor of a war crimes
commission on Iraq. All of this is stepped-up activity that has taken place in
the last few months.
As for the target, it is very much the leadership of Iraq, Saddam Hussein and
his henchmen, his immediate entourage, who are responsible for maintaining this
brutal campaign against the Iraqi people. We have said repeatedly that we would
work with the Iraqi people once Saddam Hussein was removed from power to bring
Iraq back into the community of nations. We would take the lead in helping to
rebuild Iraq, and in encouraging it to assume a constructive role in the Middle
East. So I think that it should be very clear that the focus of this activity
is very much on Saddam Hussein and his henchmen. Yes, indeed.
Q: Can you talk about the drawdown a little more, any details on what kind of
goods or services or whatever that money is supposed to be used for -- where
it's going and what kind of equipment it might be?
INDYK: Yes. The draw-down provided for in the Iraq Liberation Act was $97
million of Defense Department equipment. The first tranche that we are drawing
down now is comprised of two things: non-lethal equipment that will help with
the Iraqi opposition effort, help them to establish offices, and help them to
get the word out about the existence of the Iraqi regime, and help them to reach
into Iraq and communicate with the Iraqi people; and the second part is
training: training for the purposes of ensuring that there is a cadre of people
that, after Saddam Hussein is overthrown, can move into Iraq and work with the
Iraqi people on ensuring that civil society is restored, and that basic services
can function, and so on, because we have to be very concerned about what will
happen in the aftermath. So that is the first tranche.
After that, we are looking at other ways of using the authority that the
Congress has given us, and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves there, but we
will be using the draw-down to the best effect that we can develop, for the
purposes of achieving the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
Q: (Inaudible) training you're talking about?
INDYK: Training will be in the United States.
Q: What will the United States be telling the Turkish Prime Minister on Iraq
when he visits Washington at the end of this month?
RUBIN: Telling who?
Q: What will the United States be telling the Turkish Prime Minister when he
visits Washington at the end of this month on Iraq? And secondly, have you been
observing a larger PKK presence in northern Iraq after the group said it would
leave arms and leave Turkey?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDYK: We have an ongoing dialogue with the Turkish
Government about the situation in Iraq. That is because, of course, Turkey, as
Iraq's northern neighbor, has vital interests at stake there. We work closely
with the government and armed forces of Turkey, in terms of maintaining the No
-Fly zones in the north, which help to deter Saddam Hussein from moving against
the north, creating a renewed refugee problem which obviously would have
negative impact on Turkey.
So I would expect that we will continue our consultation when the prime minister
is here, and I think that throughout these years there has been a common
interest, between the United States and Turkey, in insuring that instability in
Iraq does not spread over the borders into Turkey.
In that regard, the activities of the PKK in northern Iraq has always been a
concern to us, and continues to be a concern. We have worked with the KDP and
the PUK -- the main Kurdish parties in the north -- and with Turkey, to work
together against operations of the PKK in the north, and I believe that all of
those efforts have yielded positive results, in terms of reducing the level of
PKK activity out of northern Iraq. However, it's an ongoing problem. It's a
difficult problem because of the terrain, and I think that with a concerted
effort with the PUK and the KDP and the Turkish forces, that eventually we will
prevail in this situation. But it is going to take time.
Q: According to some press reports, Turkish prime minister when he comes to
Washington he will bring to some kind of resolution lifting the sanctions
against Iraq. And do you think -- do you have some kind of room to discuss this
kind of resolution? The second part of the question is also, most of the
Turkish high-level authorities they have a concern on the northern Iraq -- some
kind of Kurdish republic, and --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDYK: I'll be glad to address that. As I said before,
there is a major effort under way to rebuild a consensus in the Security Council
around an omnibus resolution that covers the disarmament issue, the humanitarian
issue and the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners and missing-in-action, and that is the
resolution which all the members of the Security Council are now focused on.
We have briefed the Turkish Government extensively on this resolution, we are in
close consultations with them as befits our close relations, and we think that
Turkish interests can be best protected through this resolution.
As far as any kind of Kurdish republic or independent state, we have made our
position on this very clear, and I will be glad to reiterate it again today:
that we support the territorial integrity of Iraq; we oppose any breakaway state,
or any attempt to break up Iraq; and in our pursuit of efforts to remove Saddam
Hussein from power, we have two basic principles. The first is that the change
in regime must come from the Iraqi people themselves, and we will support the
Iraqi people in their efforts in this regard. We are not going to impose our
leadership on them. And, secondly, that whatever we do, we will do nothing to
promote the breakup of Iraq. We will seek always to maintain the territorial
integrity of Iraq. And that is something that we made very clear to both the
KDP and the PUK, and it is written into the Washington Agreement, which they
have both signed as the basis for their efforts at reconciliation. So they are
both signed up to that policy as well.
Q: Mr. Indyk, you said that Iraq now or, actually, Saddam Hussein is now
becoming weaker and isolated. By looking at the news wire coming from the Arab
world, there is some talk about an Arab summit in order to resolve the inter
-Arab problems with Iraq once and for all. What would your position be on such
INDYK: Well, it is a purely hypothetical question, since there is always talk
of Arab summits, but there don't seem to be very many of them, and a summit for
reconciliation with Saddam is, I don't think, a very likely prospect, because
there is a basic antipathy toward Saddam Hussein for all the things he has done
against the Arab world, particularly against Kuwait, but, you know, now he is
threatening the leaders of the region, almost-daily attacks on Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait. So I don't think it is very likely that there is going to be a summit
of reconciliation any time soon. I think that we should all understand that
there is a desire in the Arab world for unity and reconciliation. That is an
understandable sentiment, which has been around for time immemorial. But
operationalizing it has not been possible since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and I
don't expect that it is going to be any more possible as long as Saddam Hussein
is still in power.
Q: You mentioned red lines a moment ago. Another red line, as reiterated in
the most recent NSC report, is Saddam, Mr. Hussein, moving aggressively against
the Iraqi people in the northern areas controlled by the Kurds. What does that
picture number two of this citadel tell us about that, or how are you factoring
that in? Then just to re-ask an earlier question about consensus building
within the Security Council, can you tell us anything more about what Mr.
Pickering might have in his diplomatic dossier this time to persuade the French,
Chinese and Russians that he didn't have last go-round?
INDYK: Kirkuk is where the Iraqis are in control. It is south of the area
where the Kurds, Iraqi Kurds are in control. So in the areas that he's in
control, he has his own way, and there is very little that we can do about it
although we can, as we do in the south, make it impossible for him to use fixed
wing aircraft or helicopters to assist in this oppression of the Iraqi people.
As to what our positions are likely to be in the P-5 discussions in London, I
hope you will understand that my answer to that is similar to questions about
what it is we are doing in other negotiations, like the Middle East peace
process. It doesn't do -- it would not be wise for us to telegraph through CNN
what our negotiating positions are. What I will simply say is that the British
-Dutch resolution is a good resolution -- not just because we say so, but
because a majority of the members of the Security Council are co-sponsoring that
resolution now -- and that the only holdouts at the moment are the French, the
Russians, the Chinese and the Malaysians. So we are already a long way along,
in terms of recreating this consensus.
We have been engaged in intensive discussions with the French, the Russians and
the Chinese over the summer, on the basic elements of this resolution. I would
say that there is broad consensus on the need for an inspection regime, on the
need for the completion of Iraq's disarmament, on the need to find ways to meet
the needs of the Iraqi people, while ensuring that the regime remains under
sanction, until it complies fully with all the security council resolutions.
And it is on that basis that we will be engaged in discussions under British
auspices in London on Wednesday.
Q: I have -- it's a double question actually. The aerial photos show a lot of
-- the destruction in those two or three villages. What information do you have
And my second question is that, you said that you would try to work with the
neighboring countries of Iraq, in order to get more of an internal support for
change in the Saddam government. Given the anxiety of countries like, for
example, Turkey or even Jordan, what kind of reaction have you had from these
INDYK: I think you will see, in the booklets that we passed out, some figures -
- I'm just looking for it here: civilian deaths. The figures show 900,000
citizens, Kurdish citizens, that have been internally displaced as a result of
this demolition of houses in the north and the movement of the Kurdish people.
According to Syria, 160 homes were destroyed in the Abul Khaseeb district. I
don't have figures for numbers of people killed, but I believe -- we will try to
get that for you, but I believe it's in the hundreds, as a result of this latest
round of repression.
In terms of the responses of Iraq's neighbors, I would say the following: that
there is a general consensus that the whole region, and not just the Iraqi
people, would benefit greatly from Saddam Hussein's removal from power, and I
think that there is a consensus, across the Arab world, that it is time for him
to go. There is great sympathy for the Iraqi people, but I would say no
sympathy for Saddam Hussein. At the same time, there is a reticence about
publicly identifying with an effort by the United States to change the regime.
That should not be taken as any indication of a lack of support for the
objective but, rather, the reality that in that region there is a strong feeling
that change should come from within.
We support that principle, as I said before. We, too, believe that the change
must come from the Iraqi people themselves. But they need help because of the
monopoly that Saddam Hussein has on the means of force and the means of
repression, and that is what we are engaged in discussing with neighboring
regimes, and those kinds of discussions flourish much better in darkness than in
the light of day, so I hope you'll indulge me in that regard.
Q: Yes, Ambassador, just another question about the overall policy. You just
said, sir, that you are counting on the Iraqi people to remove Saddam, but
according to the congressional aides that went to Iraq last week and I talked to
some NGOs people from that delegation too and they are saying people are
starving; they can do nothing and they rely more on the government than ever
before. Some people think also that the Dutch-British proposal is dead on
arrival, not only because of the French, Chinese and Russian opposition but
because of the Iraqi opposition to it as well.
So if you can put the blame issue aside, from pure moral standpoint, sir, for
how long will United States, you think, sir, be able to go and pay a price with
Iraqi civilian lives, if Iraqi leader stays there, with his eyes on everything,
for how long are you willing to go along with his policies? That didn't prove
us anything for the last nine years.
INDYK: Again, when people come up with these terms like "people are starving,"
Q: That's what they said; they were there.
INDYK: I know. I know that's what they said, but I think that it is a very
broad generalization for a situation in which people are not starving. People
are in difficult circumstances, no doubt. There is no doubt that children are
dying for lack of medicines, but if you look at the graphs which show the food
imports alone, you can see that there is a lot of food coming into Iraq, and
there is no reason for the people of Iraq to starve. It is precisely because of
our concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people that we introduced the oil-for
-food arrangements, that we have supported the expansion of them and the
streamlining of them, and it is working. It has taken some time but it is
working, and I believe that that is the answer to how long this can go on. It
can go on for as long as Saddam Hussein is in power, or for as long as the Iraqi
regime is in defiance of the UN Security Council and its resolutions. As long
as we can continue with a system that meets the basic needs of the Iraqi people,
is a sustainable approach.
Now, I'm sorry, the second part of the question was?
Q: The proposal, the death of the --
INDYK: Yes. Look, if it were dead on arrival, you know, we wouldn't be having
P-5 consultations in London on Wednesday. So I just don't accept that analysis.
If you look at the history of the oil-for-food arrangements, you will see that
it took some time before Saddam Hussein accepted the arrangements -- several
years -- from the point where we first introduced it to the point where he
accepted it. I would expect that exactly the same thing will happen this time
around. If there is a consensus in the Council, with all the permanent members
supporting it, then the pressure on Saddam Hussein will be immense for Iraq to
go along with that consensus.
If he refuses, then he will be isolated and it will be very clear that he
remains in flagrant violation of the Security Council resolutions, and I believe
that the international community will have to be patient in this regard, rebuild
the consensus, maintain the consensus and, inevitably, he will come around or he
will be gone.
Q: What's in it for him? What incentive?
INDYK: Well, you know, there shouldn't be a need to provide incentives to
comply with Security Council resolutions. That is not the way the system works.
We are not in the business of rewarding Saddam Hussein for his violation of
Security Council resolutions. But what there is in the resolution, in the
omnibus resolution, is a series of arrangements that would provide for -- if he
were to comply -- provide for suspension of some sanctions, provided that the UN
maintained tight controls over what can be done with the money and what can be
imported into Iraq.
So there is, within the resolutions, a provision for -- if there is compliance -
- for a change in the architecture of the sanctions regime that would benefit
the Iraqi people.