Iraq's Odious Debts

Pachachi for Arab identity in Iraq

Nadim Kawach
Gulf News, United Arab Emirates
June 5, 2003

A former Iraqi foreign minister who met U.S. rulers in occupied Iraq last week said yesterday the Americans pledged to push for the creation of an interim Iraqi government but warned against procrastination on such a vital issue.

Adnan Al Pachachi, who had served before ousted President Saddam Hussain seized power during 1970s, stressed that Arab states must play a key role in the reconstruction of Iraq and reshaping its political and economic future after the end of the occupation.

In a late night lecture in Abu Dhabi, the former minister said Iraq must maintain its sovereignty and Arab identity or it will risk its future as a state.

“We met Paul Bremer in Baghdad and discussed the deteriorating security and the need to create a provisional Iraqi government to run the country … Bremer and other U.S. officials told us their aim is to push for the creation of such a government,” Pachachi said in the lecture at the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up.

“I have made contacts with many Iraqi politicians, intellects and other personalities and found that their main demand now is to restore security and essential services, and establishment an interim government as soon as possible.”

He said a political committee would be set up soon as part of what he called an interim administration in Iraq to draft an election law.

The next step, he added, is to put the draft constitution to a referendum under international supervision before the elections.

“Their early promise of holding a congress of all representatives and setting up an Iraqi government representing all political groups and forces was not fulfilled on the grounds this will take a long time… let us wait and see now what they will do regarding this political committee and administration…we will soon be in a position to judge their commitment and seriousness about an interim government.”

Pachachi, who returned to Iraq last month after an absence of more than 30 years, said he was visiting the UAE and other Arab states to press for a greater Arab role in Iraq.

“The most important thing is that Arabs should play a key part in the reconstruction process and the future of Iraq…we need their support and assistance…I met the president his highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and he was very sympathetic and assured me of the UAE’s full support for Iraq,” he said.

“I also stress here that Arabs should also help Iraq in safeguarding its sovereignty…we need a government as soon as possible so that Iraq will be represented in the Arab League and other organisations and have diplomatic missions…without this, its sovereignty is in danger and I don’t think there is any justification for the state of Iraq to disappear.”

Pachachi, who is expected to be involved in the forthcoming interim government, said Iraq needs huge funds for post-war reconstruction, adding that revenue from oil exports and the country’s frozen assets of more than $10 billion would not be enough.

“What we need is external help, including measures by major creditors to write off Iraq’s debt….Iraq should also be exempted from paying war damages under UN resolutions as it badly needs those funds for its future,” he said.

In a question-and-answer session after the lecture, he was asked whether the US-led war against Iraq was justified and if present investigations in the U.S. and Britain about the real motives of the war would affect Iraq’s future.

He said: “The Iraqi people are no longer interested in knowing whether the reasons of this war are legitimate or not … their main concern now is their security, livelihood and future…as you see, Iraq is facing today a very serious economic and security situation which needs more efforts from the coalition forces in Iraq.”

He added:” It seems they (coalition forces) are not ready to deal with the deteriorating security situation…the best solution for them is to regroup the police force by giving police men good salaries … the problem is that there are a lot of weapons with the Iraqis…what we need is to collect those weapons from the streets not by storming houses.”

Pachachi said lack of security and worsening economic and social conditions were creating frustration, which he attributed for the recent spate of anti-U.S. attacks.

“At the end of the day, I can say that I am optimistic about the future of Iraq,” said the former minister, who is flying back to Baghdad aboard a UAE special flight in the next two days.

“The Iraqi people have gained experience from wars and become immune to their effects…I have full confidence that they will overcome this plight.”

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