Saddam Hussein’s Deputy Speaks Out About The Situation In Iraq
August 6, 2010
Iraq (ChattahBox) Tariq Aziz was the right-hand man of Saddam Hussein for decades, as well as his closest friend and ally. He is now serving the first of many coming convictions of crimes against humanity, and he spoke for the first time in an interview with The Guardian about his position in the regime, his reaction to 9/11, the U.S. invasion, the U.K.’s part in the war, and his treatment as a prisoner.
It was a fascinating interview from a man who has caused a great deal of speculation, mainly of his own part in the atrocities committed under the 30 years of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He, however, claims that he was never a part of the decisions his president made.
“All decisions were taken by president Saddam Hussein. I held a political position, I did not participate in any of the crimes that were raised against me personally. Out of hundreds of complaints, nobody has mentioned me in person,” he said.
“Being a member of the government, I had a moral responsibility to defend the government. If you go back to the history, I asked Saddam Hussein not to invade Kuwait, but I had to support the decision of the majority.”
When it came to the 9/11 attacks, he confirmed reports that Hussein was shocked, and claimed he was, as well. Under order of the dictator, he wrote a letter to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark condemning the attacks, of which there was no connection to Iraq.
But he says that it wasn’t long before they realized it wouldn’t matter.
“Some things became clear to both myself and the president as the world leaders increased their rhetoric against us. They were going to invade anyway.”
A great deal of what he said on the matter of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 was what most people seem to know (or have guessed) already. But his view of the motives are different than most… he blames Israel.
“[George W.] Bush and [Tony] Blair lied intentionally. They were both pro-Zionist. They wanted to destroy Iraq for the sake of Israel, not for the sake of the US and Britain.”
When asked why Hussein didn’t allow open information about their nuclear weapons program (which, at the time of invasion, was not active), he confirmed that it was the threat of Iran.
“Iran was our biggest enemy. We had to defy them whatever the cost. Now Iran is building a weapons programme. Everybody knows it and nobody is doing anything. Why?”
He admits several times in the interview that mistakes were often made, such as Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and the treatment of prisoners under the regime. But he will not speak out against his president…yet.
“If I speak now about regrets, people will view me as an opportunist. I will not speak against Saddam until I am a free man. Wisdom is part of freedom. When I am free and can write the truth I can even speak against my best friend.”
As for his own treatment, he was surprisingly positive about the prison where he is held, saying thing it is clean, the food is good, his wardens are respectful, and he gets time outside in the prison garden to exercise; it is a far cry from the treatment suffered in Iraq as a prisoner, which he admits.
But his final message was the most striking, when he called to current President Barack Obama to refrain from withdrawing troops from the country.
“He cannot leave us like this. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves. When you make a mistake you need to correct a mistake, not leave Iraq to its death.”