Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Q&A with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55289194

Q&A with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Q&A with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Q&A with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has asserted that the trial of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would be held this year after the ratification of the constitution. He also held Syria and Iran in particular responsible for the influx of armed foreigners who are taking part in the attacks and bombings inside Iraq and denied that there are any plans to settle the Palestinian refugees in Iraq.

In an interview with ”Asharq al-Awsat” in Amman, Zebari said, &#34There is popular pressure to try Saddam as soon as possible. We support holding this trial as soon as possible after taking the necessary measures for it to be a fair one.&#34 He stressed that the &#34trial of Saddam and his regime”s senior officials is an urgent security requirement because it will have an impact on the security situation of Iraq. There is a popular consensus to try him.&#34 He added, &#34Several charges have been made against the crimes of Saddam and his officials. The Iraqi Government has no concerns about the amount of evidence. Iraq as a whole is irrefutable evidence of the crimes that they committed against the Iraqis and neighboring countries.&#34

On the possible date for the trial, Zebari said, &#34We do not have a specific date for the trial, but there is an inclination to hold it before the end of this year. I do not think it will be held before the constitution has been prepared.&#34 He added, &#34Saddam has the right to appoint lawyers to defend him even though he did not give this right to his adversaries. The Iraqi Justice Ministry is the only party authorized to allow Arab and foreign lawyers to defend him and these lawyers should reach an agreement with it.&#34 He asserted that Saddam”s trial &#34will be fair and transparent despite his crimes against his people and he will have the right to defend himself.&#34

Zebari denied that there are any negotiations between the Iraqi Government and the US forces on one side and the armed opponents on the other side and said, &#34There are absolutely no negotiations or talks between the Iraqi Government and the outlaw armed groups. The Iraqi Government recognizes peaceful political opposition that does not use violence or murder and believes in dialogue. The government is ready to talk to such an opposition but it will not negotiate with the former regime”s supporters who are acting to destroy and bring down the authority and to return to power by force. As to the US dialogue with the armed groups, this does not concern the US authorities. All the negotiations held were contacts between the US forces and the local citizens in some areas to discuss their needs.&#34

In reply to a question about recent reports of the Iraqi Government”s intention to expel thousands of Arab residents, the Iraqi minister said, &#34There is a multifaceted security plan to achieve calm in Iraq and put an end to the violence and terrorist operations. There are large numbers of Arab citizens in Iraq and the government has issued new instructions on residency in its territories. It will apply these instructions so that only those who have a job or a permanent source of income will be allowed to stay. We will not let anyone at all live in Iraq illegally.&#34 He added that the reasons for this &#34are the terrorist groups” success in recruiting some Arab nationals and using them to carry out terrorist operations. The Iraqi Government has a lot of evidence regarding the involvement of some Arab elements in terrorist operations, but it is not eager to generalize. The presence of Arab elements that are involved in terrorist operations that are few in numbers does not mean that this applies to the Arab nationals in Iraq.&#34

After confirming that foreign gunmen continue to infiltrate into Iraq, Zebari said, &#34Terrorist elements are infiltrating from neighboring countries, particularly from Iran and Syria. We have asked the authorities of these countries to control their borders and stop the infiltrations, which are obvious to them. Though Iran and Syria have security organs capable of preventing the infiltrations, they are not stopping them. Iraq”s message in this connection to the neighboring countries at the recent meeting of their interior ministers in Istanbul was clear. Iraq asked them to stop the infiltrations into its territories and implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions that have become ink on paper.&#34 He added: &#34There is variation in the infiltrations from Iraq”s neighboring countries and the danger comes from Syria and Iran. The terrorists are killing innocent citizens and the Iraqi people are suffering too much from these operations. Statements coming from officials in some neighboring countries depict Iraq as the aggressor against these countries and not the victim.&#34

Regarding the status of Palestinians residing in Iraq, the foreign minister said, &#34Iraq supports the Palestinian people and backs the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Iraqi officials met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and discussed the conditions of the Palestinians residing in Iraq. The Iraqi officials asserted that there was no intention to increase the suffering of the Palestinians in Iraq whom we consider our dear brothers.&#34 He added, &#34Reports of the involvement of some members of the Palestinian community in terrorist operations are no more than individual cases that cannot be used to generalize all the Palestinians living in Iraq.&#34 He denied that Iraq has been asked to settle the Palestinian refugees and said, &#34This issue has not been raised at all.&#34