HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE[
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 1998
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS
MARTIN S. INDYK
Text courtesy of Iraq News. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie . ]...................... REP. GILMAN We also have serious concerns about how to address the ongoing threats of Iraq. And as you know, just a few days ago the committee marked up a resolution finding Iraq in material breach of its requirements of the post-war cease-fire. We differ also with the administration over how to support opposition efforts. . . . REP. HAMILTON Finally, we here, all of us, agree on the goals and United States policies toward Iraq; achieving full compliance with the U.N. resolutions. But Congress and the president, I think, have to work to try to speak together with a single voice. These are really major differences between the Congress and the administration with respect to Iraq. There is no silver bullet to change Iraq, either. Containing Iraqi military power, reaching out to the suffering of the Iraqi people and making a clear road map for bringing Iraq back into the international community, I think, represent the best policies at an acceptable cost, to protect and promote American interests. We welcome you, Mr. Secretary. We look forward to your testimony. . . MR. INDYK Iraq, under the brutal rule of Saddam Hussein, continues to be a potential source of instability in the region, but recent revelations about Saddam Hussein's continued deceit concerning his weapons of mass destruction program have reinforced our argument that Iraq is far from complying with the Security Council resolutions, and these revelations have helped counter pressure to lift sanctions. Meanwhile, the expanded U.N. program to ensure that the basic humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are being met, that program is in place and the situation of the Iraqi people is now continuing to improve. Using money appropriated by this Congress, we have also developed a program of overt support for the Iraqi opposition designed to make it more politically effective and to assist in its efforts to document Saddam's war crimes and to prepare the ground for an indictment of Saddam Hussein as a war criminal... REP. LOIS CAPPS (D-CA) I want to ask a question which I broached with you during the break regarding the hardship being suffered by the Iraqi people. It is estimated that there are a million and a half Iraqi people, including a half-million children, who have died as a result of the U.N. sanctions, since 1990. Despite the fairly recent increase in the oil-for-food program, this is continuing. And I have reports from my constituents who tell me of first-hand knowledge of terrible sufferings that are going on there. And I want to know if there is any way we can be doing more, or we can be doing something to keep the Iraqi military contained (and) at the same helping to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. And if there's time, I have another short question about Jordan. MR. INDYK: Yes. First of all, I think it's important to note that there is no sanction on the importation of food and medicines to Iraq, and Saddam Hussein has always had the ability to spend money on meeting the basic needs of the Iraqi people, and he has chosen not to do so. He has chosen, instead, to build these unbelievable, uninhabited palaces as mausoleums to his ego, and then play on the suffering of the Iraqi people for propaganda purposes. Out of recognition that he would not meet their basic needs because it served his purposes not to do so, we introduced this concept, under Resolution 986 – REP. CAPPS: Mmm-hmm. (In acknowledgement.) MR. INDYK: -- of allowing Iraq to sell oil, putting the money from those sales of oil into a U.N. escrow account and making sure that that money was spent for humanitarian supplies, including medicines for the Iraqi people. The secretary-general recommended an expansion of that program, and we supported that to the point where Iraq is now allowed to export $11.2 billion worth of oil annually to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. By U.N. estimates, that far exceeds the amount of money necessary to provide for food and medicine for the Iraqi people, and some of that money will be spent on upgrading hospitals and schools and the electricity infrastructure, and so on. So that the program, as it kicks in, is going to go beyond that basic humanitarian need to improving the conditions of the Iraqi people, and we're doing that under U.N. control, control of the money, control of the contracts, monitoring of the distribution. We're doing it because Saddam Hussein himself will not do it. And one of the disturbing developments in this regard -- there was a story in the New York Times yesterday -- I don't know whether you saw it -- in which they reported that because this program is now working and is alleviating the plight of the Iraqi people, Saddam Hussein is considering cancelling it, cancelling cooperation with it, because we are in the process of denying him the propaganda benefit of, you know, babies in caskets on the tops of taxis, which he made great play of in the last crisis. REP. CAPPS: Right. MR. INDYK: I believe that within the next six months, if this program goes forward, as I hope it will, we will see a significant improvement in the conditions of the Iraqi people. And we certainly are very concerned to meet that requirement. . . . REP. SALMON: Thank you. The chairman did have a few questions. I appreciate your patience in staying here so long. The chairman did have a few questions if you wouldn't mind. What is the administration's assessment of the prospects of overthrowing Saddam Hussein? MR. INDYK: It's always difficult to make an accurate assessment when you're faced with a ruthless -- totalitarian personality, in control of an effective security apparatus, who has succeeded in thwarting various efforts to overthrow him in the past. So I'm loath to make a prediction about the certainty of his demise or the longevity of his horrendous rule. I think that if and when he goes, it's likely to be sudden and unexpected. But beyond that, it is hard to say. He certainly is not a popular leader in Iraq. If the people of Iraq were able to have their say, then I think he would have been long gone. And the question is, how can we work with those who oppose his regime to manifest an effective alternative to him that may help in the process of undermining his hold on power? REP. SALMON: What would be the prospects for a civil war if the -- in Iraq if the diverse exile opposition groups succeeded in ousting him? MR. INDYK: You know, there have been some very dire predictions about what would happen in those circumstances. I personally tend to be more sanguine. I think that there is a lot more cohesion to the Iraqi state and to the Iraqi people than is normally given them credit for. There was, after the Iran-Iraq -- I'm sorry -- after the Gulf War, there was great concern that the Shi'ite rebellion in the South would lead to the breakaway of the South under Iranian tutelage. I think that fear was much exaggerated and unfortunately led to or had an influence on the calculations of Iraq's southern neighbors and of Washington about whether to support that rebellion or not. So I don't think that we should be overly concerned about that. We obviously have long argued that it is important that -- the unity of Iraq is important and we want to see the territorial integrity of Iraq. We think that concerns about its disintegration are much exaggerated.