Iraq's Ex-U.N. Envoy: U.S. Sowing Chaos
By RAWYA RAGEH, Associated Press Writer
AJMAN, United Arab Emirates - Saddam Hussein's former U.N. envoy accused the United States of deliberately sowing chaos in Iraq to prevent democracy from taking hold.
In interviews with The Associated Press on Saturday and Monday, former Iraqi U.N. envoy Mohammed al-Douri denounced a U.S. plan to create an appointed legislative body in Iraq and demanded free, direct elections instead.
He accused the United States of creating chaos in occupied Iraq as an excuse to avoid direct elections of a new government because that vote could lead to the United States losing control of Iraq's oil wealth and strategic location.
Al-Douri said democratic elections would be preferable to an appointed body no matter who wins — even if his Sunni Muslim minority, which held favor during Saddam's rule, is defeated by Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority.
"For me what is important is Iraq, not the majority or minority. I'll accept anyone who is elected — a Shiite or even a Kurd, if that is the people's choice," al-Douri said. "The important thing is that the (Iraqi) people elect, and not have individuals appointed by foreign entities like the United States."
The United States has insisted it wants elections in Iraq, but says they are too complicated to organize immediately. Al-Douri — speaking in his chic, book-lined Ajman apartment with a panoramic view of the Gulf — disputed that claim.
"Elections pose a big threat to the future of America's presence in Iraq, and the Americans sense this," al-Douri said. The United States, he said, "fears that Iraqis would elect people who are against the American presence in Iraq."
Free elections should be held now, he said, "because the Iraqi people are really thirsty for democracy."
Such words may seem unusual coming from al-Douri, whose role as U.N. ambassador required that he defend Iraqi policies to the world. Saddam's government never held free elections and killed at least 300,000 Iraqis believed to oppose its rule.
But al-Douri was not a hard-core member of Saddam's Baath Party and is not wanted by U.S. authorities. He repeatedly describes himself as an academic.
Al-Douri was an international law professor for 30 years before Saddam appointed him to his first diplomatic post in 1999, and he said he never considered himself a politician.
"What concerned me was Iraq, my country, not Saddam," he said. "I was very worried, but Saddam seemed to think the war would never start."
Al-Douri — who is not related to the most-wanted Iraqi still at large, former Saddam deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — warned against what he said was an attempt by Sunni Muslims to unify "to face the so-called Shiite threat."
"If the Sunnis try to unify themselves as a power to face the Shiites, they will only fall in the trap the United States has built for us ... the trap of dividing Iraq," he said.
Al-Douri said he hopes Saddam will be "tried anywhere in a fair trial," though he is doubtful the trial will ever happen because of fears the former Iraqi dictator would publicly air too many secrets of his neighbors and the United States.
He said Iraqi resistance to the U.S.-led occupation is "only normal" and will continue until America pulls out. But he said it is based on feelings of nationalism, not any ties to Saddam's Baath Party.
"I do not think there is anyone now who defends Saddam as a former leader," he said. "I am not convinced that there are such Saddam loyalists. Saddam has ended."
Al-Douri said he has no contacts with the resistance or Baath Party members.
After Baghdad's fall, al-Douri accepted a loose agreement with Al-Arabiya television station under which he came to the United Arab Emirates and appeared on the network to comment on Iraqi affairs. The arrangement ended in November.
He has settled along the beachfront of one of the smallest and quietest of the emirates. He also has written a book titled "The Game is Over" — his famous statement acknowledging Iraq's defeat in April. He said it should be published soon.
Al-Douri said he has nothing to fear in Iraq, but it is not a "suitable time from all perspectives" for him to return home. He hopes that time will come soon, saying any truly democratic Iraqi authority should not oppose his return.
During the first interview Saturday, al-Douri had his television tuned to a political show discussing corruption in Lebanon in an open manner.
"If only such freedom existed in the Arab world a long time ago, we would not have fallen into these crises now," he said.
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
The WorldPeace Banner
To the WorldPeace Peace Page