Al-Sahaf: Americans Urged Us to Recognize Israel
Al-Sahaf: The Americans Urged Us to Recognize Israel
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
Former Iraqi Minister of Information, Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, told Abu Dhabi TV that US Senators maintained communication with Iraqi officials between 1991 and 1997, and delivered a set of ‘requirements’ that the Clinton administration hoped would help Iraq return to the international fold.
He also reiterated that Iraq has not possessed a Weapons of Mass Destruction program since 1991.
“We had such programs, but as of 1991 they were grounded zero,” he said.
In a highly publicized and hyped exclusive multi-part interview (including previously unavailable footage of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) with Abu Dhabi TV yesterday, Al Sahaf described the explicit steps taken by the American side to ensure that the meetings were kept out of the press.
“Our first meeting was in a small diner outside New York,” he said.
“It was very low-key and the US Senator did not enter through the main entrance, but used a back door through the kitchen. We tried to make the Americans as comfortable as possible and therefore sent a low-level ministerial delegation,” he added.
Al-Sahaf said that the US Senators had urged Iraq to transform its political structures, declare a moratorium on weapons of mass destruction, and recognize and establish ties with Israel.
Al-Sahaf, who was Foreign Minister at the time, said the last meeting occurred in a European capital in 1997. US companies later started sending their commercial representatives who consulted with Iraqi officials on behalf of the US government.
Al-Sahaf also revealed the deep level of resentment between Saddam Hussein and his eldest son, Uday, who was killed by US forces last July.
Al-Sahaf hinted that Uday may have been behind his ouster from the foreign ministry in 1997, and touched upon Uday’s meddling domestic and external affairs.
“Many ministers and ministries used to complain to the President about Uday, and the President would take disciplinary action,” Al-Sahaf said.
In 2000, Al-Sahaf claims, the Iraqi government began to sense a more belligerent attitude from the US administration. Iraq tried, though Tunisia and Jordan as third-party intermediaries, to appeal to the US to avoid a military clash.
“We tried to get countries with strong ties to the US to convince them to talk to us,” he said.
When asked about Saddam Hussein’s response to an Arab call for his resignation, Al-Sahaf said his former leader was shocked by the Arab position. While the Arabs believed the stepping down of Saddam Hussein would avert an invasion, the Iraqis believed nothing could slow an American onslaught, he said.
Abu Dhabi TV aired exclusive footage of Saddam Hussein calling the Arabs traitors, foreign agents and conspirators against Iraq.