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Professor Higgins

Ex-fm Of Iraq Says Wmd Meant For Iran

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Tariq Aziz: 'Britain and the US killed Iraq. I wish I was martyred'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/05/iraq-us-tariq-aziz-iran

• WMD an illusion was to deter Iran, says former minister

• Nostalgia for Saddam Hussein rule – but he calls on US to stay

"..........Being a member of the government, I had a moral responsibility to defend the government," he said. "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 the decision was taken, I said to him, this is going to lead to war with the US and it is not in our interests to wage war against the US. But the decision was taken. I was the foreign minister of the country and I had to defend the country and do everything possible to explain our position. I stayed on the side of right."

Aziz's influence after the 1991 Gulf war rose substantially, largely because of the loyalty he had shown. Through 12 years of sanctions and the lead up to the Iraq invasion in 2003, he claims he knew every one of the regime's secrets – including that there was no secret weapons program, and no will to resurrect one from the ruins of Iraq's three bombed nuclear reactors and adjoining research laboratories.

He said that he and Saddam were convinced that the US was going to invade by late 2002, and his job of escorting sceptical UN inspectors around Iraq was largely futile. "I was trying to prove a negative."

Aziz says the events of 9/11 were shocking to him and Saddam.

"

We were against that at the time, but we were not speaking to the American government. Saddam Hussein called me and said he would like me to write a letter to Ramsey[Clark, a former US attorney general] and say that we condemn the attack. I did that."

But he did not foresee that that day would lead to the fall of Baghdad 18 months later.

"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.

"Bush and 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."

Via his TV, Aziz monitors developments in Iraq, which he says will be better off if it is returned to r

ule by an Arab strongman. "There is nothing here any more. Nothing," he says. "For 30 years Saddam built Iraq, and now it is destroyed. There are more sick than before, more hungry. The people don't have services. People are being killed every day in the 10s, if not hundreds. We are all victims of America and Britain. They killed our country."

When asked why Saddam kept the US guessing about his weapons programme, he confirmed the dictator's account to his captors that he had been playing to Iran, not to the west. "Partially, it was about Iran [the deterrent factor]," Aziz said. "They had waged war on us for eight years so we Iraqis had a right to deter them. Saddam was a proud man. He had to defend the dignity of Iraq. He had to show that he was not wrong, or weak.

"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?"

Pressed on whether pride over wisdom had been a main factor in his country's destruction, Aziz replied: "We are Arabs, we are Arab nationalist. We must be proud."

Aziz has a perhaps surprising request of the US commander-in-chief, whom he initially welcomed as a clean break from George W Bush. Aziz now wants the occupation to continue.

"He cannot leave us like this. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves," he said. "When you make a mistake you need to correct a mistake, not leave Iraq to its death."

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"They had waged war on us for eight years so we Iraqis had a right to deter them. Saddam was a proud man. He had to defend the dignity of Iraq. He had to show that he was not wrong, or weak.

Man's barking mad.

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