- According to the book Unholy Babylon by Adel Darwish
and Gregory Alexander (Gollancz Paperback 1991):
- The US before the first Gulf War gave Saddam to understand
that it would not interfere in its quarrel with Kuwait. US Ambassador April
Glaspie conveyed the message to Saddam that the US 'had no opinion' on
Iraq's future intentions with regard to Kuwait. (Kuwait as a state separate
from Iraq was a creation of the British to protect their oil interests.)
The book makes the situation painfully clear: Washington sent many messages
to the Iraqi leader, all of them with the same theme. 'We won't interfere.
We apologise for anything the nasty journalists have written about you,
we prefer you to those fanatic Iranians.' This is the 'how' of American
diplomacy. The reasons are now clearer..
- Pay particular attentions to the passages highlighted
with five **** in the following interview..
- THE NEW YORK TIMES
- INTERNATIONAL SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1990
- Excerpts From Iraqi Document on Meeting with U.S. Envoy
- Special to The New York Times
- WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 -- On July 25,President Saddam Hussein
of Iraq summoned the United States Ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie,
to his office in the last high-level contact between the two Governments
before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2. Here are excerpts from a
document described by Iraqi Government officials as a transcript of the
meeting, which also included the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz. A
copy was provided to The New York Times by ABC News, which translated from
the Arabic. The State Department has declined to comment on its accuracy.
- SADDAM HUSSEIN: I have summoned you today to hold comprehensive
political discussions with you. This is a message to President Bush. You
know that we did not have relations with the U.S. until 1984 and you know
the circumstances and reasons which caused them to be severed. The decision
to establish relations with the U.S. were taken in 1980 during the two
months prior to the war between us and Iran.
- When the war started, and to avoid misinterpretation,
we postponed the establishment of relations hoping that the war would end
- But because the war lasted for a long time, and to emphasize
the fact that we are a non-aligned country, it was important to re-establish
relations with the U.S. And we choose to do this in 1984.
- It is natural to say that the U.S. is not like Britain,
for example, with the latter's historic relations with Middle Eastern countries,
including Iraq. In addition, there were no relations between Iraq and the
U.S. between 1967 and 1984. One can conclude it would be difficult for
the U.S. to have a full understanding of many matters in Iraq. When relations
were re-established we hoped for a better understanding and for better
cooperation because we too do not understand the background of many American
decisions. We dealt with each other during the war and we had dealings
on various levels. The most important of those levels were with the foreign
- U.S.-Iraq Rifts
- We had hoped for a better common understanding and a
better chance of cooperation to benefit both our peoples and the rest of
the Arab nations.
- But these better relations have suffered from various
rifts. The worst of these was in 1986, only two years after establishing
relations, with what was known as Irangate, which happened during the year
that Iran occupied the Fao peninsula.
- It was natural then to say that old relations and complexity
of interests could absorb many mistakes. But when interests are limited
and relations are not that old, then there isn't a deep understanding and
mistakes could have a negative effect. Sometimes the effect of an error
can be larger than the error itself.
- Despite all of that, we accepted the apology, via his
envoy, of the American President regarding Irangate, and we wiped the slate
clean. And we shouldn't unearth the past except when new events remind
us that old mistakes were not just a matter of coincidence.
- Our suspicions increased after we liberated the Fao peninsula.
The media began to involve itself in our politics. And our suspicions began
to surface anew, because we began to question whether the U.S. felt uneasy
with the outcome of the war when we liberated our land.
- It was clear to us that certain parties in the United
States -- and I don't say the President himself -- but certain parties
who had links with the intelligence community and with the State Department
-- and I don't say the Secretary of State himself -- I say that these parties
did not like the fact that we liberated our land. Some parties began to
prepare studies entitles: "Who will succeed Saddam Hussein?"
They began to contact gulf states to make them fear Iraq, to persuade them
not to give Iraq economic aid. And we have evidence of these activities.
- Iraqi Policy on Oil
- Iraq came out of the war burdened with $40 billion debts,
excluding the aid given by Arab states, some of whom consider that too
to be a debt although they knew -- and you knew too -- that without Iraq
they would not have had these sums and the future of the region would have
been entirely different.
- We began to face the policy of the drop in the price
of oil. Then we saw the United States, which always talks of democracy
but which has no time for the other point of view. Then the media campaign
against Saddam Hussein was started by the official American media. The
United States thought that the situation in Iraq was like Poland, Romania
or Czechoslovakia. We were disturbed by this campaign but we were not disturbed
too much because we had hoped that, in a few months, those who are decision
makers in America would have a chance to find the facts and see whether
this media campaign had had any effect on the lives of Iraqis. We had hoped
that soon the American authorities would make the correct decision regarding
their relations with Iraq. Those with good relations can sometimes afford
- But when planned and deliberate policy forces the price
of oil down without good commercial reasons, then that means another war
against Iraq. Because military war kills people by bleeding them, and economic
war kills their humanity by depriving them of their chance to have a good
standard of living. As you know, we gave rivers of blood in a war that
lasted eight years, but we did not lose our humanity. Iraqis have a right
to live proudly. We do not accept that anyone could injure Iraqi pride
or the Iraqi right to have high standards of living.
- Kuwait and the U.A.E. were at the front of this policy
aimed at lowering Iraq's position and depriving its people of higher economic
standards. And you know that our relations with the Emirates and Kuwait
had been good. On top of all that, while we were busy at war, the state
of Kuwait began to expand at the expense of our territory.
- You may say this is propaganda, but I would direct you
to one document, the Military Patrol Line, which is the borderline endorsed
by the Arab League in 1961 for military patrols not to cross the Iraq-Kuwait
- But go and look for yourselves. You will see the Kuwaiti
border patrols, the Kuwaiti farms, the Kuwaiti oil installations -- all
built as closely as possible to this line to establish that land as Kuwaiti
- Conflicting Interests
- Since then, the Kuwaiti Government has been stable while
the Iraqi Government has undergone many changes. Even after 1968 and for
10 years afterwards, we were too busy with our own problems. First in the
north then the 1973 war, and other problems. Then came the war with Iran
which started 10 years ago.
- We believe that the United States must understand that
people who live in luxury and economic security can each an understanding
with the United States on what are legitimate joint interests. But the
starved and the economically deprived cannot reach the same understanding.
- We do not accept threats from anyone because we do not
threaten anyone. But we say clearly that we hope that the U.S. will not
entertain too many illusions and will seek new friends rather than increase
the number of its enemies.
- I have read the American statements speaking of friends
in the area. Of course, it is the right of everyone to choose their friends.
We can have no objections. But you know you are not the ones who protected
your friends during the war with Iran. I assure you, had the Iranians overrun
the region, the American troops would not have stopped them, except by
the use of nuclear weapons.
- I do not belittle you. But I hold this view by looking
at the geography and nature of American society into account. Yours is
a society which cannot accept 10,000 dead in one battle.
- You know that Iran agreed to the cease-fire not because
the United States had bombed one of the oil platforms after the liberation
of the Fao. Is this Iraq's reward for its role in securing the stability
of the region and for protecting it from an unknown flood?
- Protecting the Oil Flow
- So what can it mean when America says it will now protect
its friends? It can only mean prejudice against Iraq. This stance plus
maneuvers and statements which have been made has encouraged the U.A.E.
and Kuwait to disregard Iraqi rights.
- I say to you clearly that Iraq's rights, which are mentioned
in the memorandum, we will take one by one. That might not happen now or
after a month or after one year, but we will take it all. We are not the
kind of people who will relinquish their rights. There is no historic right,
or legitimacy, or need, for the U.A.E. and Kuwait to deprive us of our
rights. If they are needy, we too are needy.
- The United States must have a better understanding of
the situation and declare who it wants to have relations with and who its
enemies are. But it should not make enemies simply because others have
different points of view regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- We clearly understand America's statement that it wants
an easy flow of oil. We understanding American staying that it seeks friendship
with the states in the region, and to encourage their joint interests.
But we cannot understand the attempt to encourage some parties to hard
- The United States wants to secure the flow of oil. This
understandable and known. But it must not deploy methods which the United
States says it disapproves of -- flexing muscles and pressure.
- If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force.
We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too
can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their
size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual
Arabs may reach you.
- War and Friendship
- You can come to Iraq with aircraft and missiles but do
not push us to the point where we cease to care. And when we feel that
you want to injure our pride and take away the Iraqis' chance of a high
standard of living, then we will cease to care and death will be the choice
for us. Then we would not care if you fired 100missiles for each missile
we fired. Because without pride life would have no value.
- It is not reasonable to ask our people to bleed rivers
of blood for eight years then to tell them, "Now you have to accept
aggression from Kuwait, the U.A.E., or from the U.S. or from Israel."
- We do not put all these countries in the same boat. First,
we are hurt and upset that such disagreement is taking place between us
and Kuwait and the U.A.E. The solution must be found within an Arab framework
and through direct bilateral relations. We do not place America among the
enemies. We pace it where we want our friends to be and we try to be friends.
But repeated American statements last year make it apparent that America
did not regard us as friends. Well the Americans are free.
- When we seek friendship we want pride, liberty and our
right to choose.
- We want to deal according to our status as we deal with
the others according to their statuses.
- We consider the others' interests while we look after
our own. And we expect the others to consider our interests while they
are dealing with their own. What does it mean when the Zionist war minister
is summoned to the United States now? What do they mean, these fiery statements
coming out of Israel during the past few days and the talk of war being
expected now more than at any other time?
- * * *
- I do not believe that anyone would lose by making friends
with Iraq. In my opinion, the American President has not made mistakes
regarding the Arabs, although his decision to freeze dialogue with the
P.L.O. was wrong. But it appears that this decision was made to appease
the Zionist lobby or as a piece of strategy to cool the Zionist anger,
before trying again. I hope that our latter conclusion is the correct one.
But we will carry on saying it was the wrong decision.
- You are appeasing the usurper in so many ways -- economically,
politically and militarily as well as in the media. When will the time
come when, for every three appeasements to the usurper, you praise the
Arabs just once?
- APRIL GLASPIE: I thank you, Mr. President, and it is
a great pleasure for a diplomat to meet and talk directly with the President.
I clearly understand your message. We studied history at school That taught
us to say freedom or death. I think you know well that we as a people have
our experience with the colonialists.
- Mr. President, you mentioned many things during this
meeting which I cannot comment on on behalf of my Government. But with
your permission, I will comment on two points. You spoke of friendship
and I believe it was clear from the letters sent by our President to you
on the occasion of your National Day that he emphasizes --
- HUSSEIN: He was kind and his expressions met with our
regard and respect.
- Directive on Relations
- *****GLASPIE: As you know, he directed the United States
Administration to reject the suggestion of implementing trade sanctions.
- HUSSEIN: There is nothing left for us to buy from America.
Only wheat. Because every time we want to buy something, they say it is
forbidden. I am afraid that one day you will say, "You are going to
make gunpowder out of wheat."
- ***** GLASPIE: I have a direct instruction from the President
to seek better relations with Iraq.
- HUSSEIN: But how? We, too, have this desire. But matters
are running contrary to this desire.
- GLASPIE: This is less likely to happen the more we talk.
For example, you mentioned the issue of the article published by the American
Information Agency and that was sad. And a formal apology was presented.
- HUSSEIN: Your stance is generous. We are Arabs. It is
enough for us that someone says, "I am sorry. I made a mistake."
Then we carry on. But the media campaign continued. And it is full of stories.
If the stories were true, no one would get upset. But we understand from
its continuation that there is a determination.
- GLASPIE: I saw the Diane Sawyer program on ABC. And what
happened in that program was cheap and unjust. And this is a real picture
of what happens in the American media -- even to American politicians themselves.
These are the methods the Western media employs. I am pleased that you
add your voice to the diplomats who stand up to the media. Because your
appearance in the media, even for five minutes, would help us to make the
American people understand Iraq. This would increase mutual understanding.
If they American President had control of the media, his job would be much
- Mr. President, not only do I want to say that President
Bush wanted better and deeper relations with Iraq, but he also wants an
Iraqi contribution to peace and prosperity in the Middle East. President
Bush is an intelligent man. He is not going to declare an economic war
- You are right. It is true what you say that we do not
want higher prices for oil. But I would ask you to examine the possibility
of not charging too high a price for oil.
- ***** HUSSEIN: We do not want too high prices for oil.
And I remind you that in 1974 I gave Tariq Aziz the idea for an article
he wrote which criticized the policy of keeping oil prices high. It was
the first Arab article which expressed this view.
- Shifting Price of Oil
- TARIQ AZIZ: Our policy in OPEC opposes sudden jumps in
- HUSSEIN: Twenty-five dollars a barrel is not a high price.
- ***** GLASPIE: We have many Americans who would like
to see the price go above $25 because they come from oil-producing states.
- HUSSEIN: The price at one stage had dropped to $12 a
barrel and a reduction in the modest Iraqi budget of $6 billion to $7 billion
is a disaster.
- ***** GLASPIE: I think I understand this. I have lived
here for years. I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country.
I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should
have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on
the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.
- I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late
60's. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express
no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America.
James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.
We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi
or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved
quickly. With regard to all of this, can I ask you to see how the issue
appears to us?
- My assessment after 25 years' service in this area is
that your objective must have strong backing from your Arab brothers. I
now speak of oil But you, Mr. President, have fought through a horrific
and painful war. Frankly, we can see only that you have deployed massive
troops in the south. Normally that would not be any of our business. But
when this happens in the context of what you said on your national day,
then when we read the details in the two letters of the Foreign Minister,
then when we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the
U.A.E. and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression
against Iraq, then it would be reasonable for me to be concerned. And for
this reason, I received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship
-- not in the spirit of confrontation -- regarding your intentions.
- I simply describe the position of my Government. And
I do not mean that the situation is a simple situation. But our concern
is a simple one.
- HUSSEIN: We do not ask people not to be concerned when
peace is at issue. This is a noble human feeling which we all feel. It
is natural for you as a superpower to be concerned. But what we ask is
not to express your concern in a way that would make an aggressor believe
that he is getting support for his aggression.
- We want to find a just solution which will give us our
rights but not deprive others of their rights. But at the same time, we
want the others to know that our patience is running out regarding their
action, which is harming even the milk our children drink, and the pensions
of the widow who lost her husband during the war, and the pensions of the
orphans who lost their parents.
- As a country, we have the right to prosper. We lost so
many opportunities, and the others should value the Iraqi role in their
protection. Even this Iraqi [the President points to their interpreter]
feels bitter like all other Iraqis. We are not aggressors but we do not
accept aggression either. We sent them envoys and handwritten letters.
We tried everything. We asked the Servant of the Two Shrines -- King Fahd
-- to hold a four-member summit, but he suggested a meeting between the
Oil Ministers. We agreed. And as you know, the meeting took place in Jidda.
They reached an agreement which did not express what we wanted, but we
- Only two days after the meeting, the Kuwaiti Oil Minister
made a statement that contradicted the agreement. We also discussed the
issue during the Baghdad summit. I told the Arab Kings and Presidents that
some brothers are fighting an economic war against us. And that not all
wars use weapons and we regard this kind of war as a military action against
us. Because if the capability of our army is lowered then, if Iran renewed
the war, it could achieve goals which it could not achieve before. And
if we lowered the standard of our defenses, then this could encourage Israel
to attack us. I said that before the Arab Kings and Presidents. Only I
did not mention Kuwait and U.A.E. by name, because they were my guests.
- Before this, I had sent them envoys reminding them that
our war had included their defense. Therefore the aid they gave us should
not be regarded as a debt. We did not more than the United States would
have done against someone who attacked its interests.
- I talked about the same thing with a number of other
Arab states. I explained the situation t brother King Fahd a few times,
by sending envoys and on the telephone. I talked with brother King Hussein
and with Sheik Zaid after the conclusion of the summit. I walked with the
Sheik to the plane when he was leaving Mosul. He told me, "Just wait
until I get home." But after he had reached his destination, the statements
that came from there were very bad -- not from him, but from his Minister
- And after the Jidda agreement, we received some intelligence
that they were talking of sticking to the agreement for two months only.
Then they would change their policy. Now tell us, if the American President
found himself in this situation, what would he do? I said it was very difficult
for me to talk about these issues in public. But we must tell the Iraqi
people who face economic difficulties who was responsible for that.
- Talks with Mubarak
- GLASPIE: I spent four beautiful years in Egypt.
- HUSSEIN: The Egyptian people are kind and good and ancient.
The oil people are supposed to help the Egyptian people, but they are mean
beyond belief. It is painful to admit it, but some of them are disliked
by Arabs because of their greed.
- GLASPIE: Mr. President, it would be helpful if you could
give us an assessment of the effort made by your Arab brothers and whether
they have achieved anything.
- HUSSEIN: On this subject, we agreed with President Mubarak
that the Prime Minister of Kuwait would meet with the deputy chairman of
the Revolution Command Council in Saudi Arabia, because the Saudis initiated
contact with us, aided by President Mubarak's efforts. He just telephoned
me a short while ago to say the Kuwaitis have agreed to that suggestion.
- GLASPIE: Congratulations.
- HUSSEIN: A protocol meeting will be held in Saudi Arabia.
Then the meeting will be transferred to Baghdad for deeper discussion directly
between Kuwait and Iraq. We hope we will reach some result. We hope that
the long-term view and the real interests will overcome Kuwaiti greed.
- GLASPIE: May I ask you when you expect Sheik Saad to
come to Baghdad?
- HUSSEIN: I suppose it would be on Saturday or Monday
at the latest. I told brother Mubarak that the agreement should be in Baghdad
Saturday or Sunday. You know that brother Mubarak's visits have always
been a good omen.
- GLASPIE: This is good news. Congratulations.
- HUSSEIN: Brother President Mubarak told me they were
scared. They said troops were only 20 kilometers north of the Arab League
line. I said to him that regardless of what is there, whether they are
police, border guards or army, and regardless of how many are there, and
what they are doing, assure the Kuwaitis and give them our word that we
are not going to do anything until we meet with them. When we meet and
when we see that there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are
unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept
death, even though wisdom is above everything else. There you have good
- AZIZ: This is a journalistic exclusive.
- GLASPIE: I am planning to go to the United States next
Monday. I hope I will meet with President Bush in Washington next week.
I thought to postpone my trip because of the difficulties we are facing.
But now I will fly on Monday.