Friday, June 04, 2004

April 9, 2003: Mohammed Al-Sahaf's Perspective

Starting in September and continuing on into October of 2003, Mohammed Al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Minister of Information, known popularly to the West as "Baghdad Bob," was interviewed by Jassem Obaid for Abu Dhabi TV. In total there were seven interviews. These interviews were then translated into English by Hassam El-Najjar, a Palestinian-American living and teaching in Dalton, Georgia. The following excerpts come from the sixth interview -- October 22, 2003 -- which includes questions from Abu Dhabi viewers.

Question 1 : How do you describe the cause of what happened on9 th of April,2003 ? Betrayal?

Al-Shahaf: No evidence of betrayal except some officers going to tell soldiers to go home, whether this was planned or not, we don't know.

Question 2 : Were these deals between Iraqi military leaders and the US? Or simply the loss of a military battle? Which one do you support?

Al-Shahaf: I lean towards the loss of the battle explanation, particularly weakness, dismantlement, then collapse. Iraqis planned to resist for a longer period. When this didn't happen, the plan failed.

Question 3 : Were there any modifications in the military plans after the losses in the south?

Al-Shahaf: Yes, using the "karr wa farr" (attack and retreat) strategy, which aimed at pushing the invaders as many times as possible, in order to lengthen the fighting period.

Question 4 : You have been accused by the media of hiding information during the previous five interviews. Is that true?

Al-Shahaf: No, I have not hidden anything that I know for sure. However, I know a lot more than I am not completely sure about. I need more time before I speak about it.

...

Question 12 : Can you think of any mistakes (that have cause the collapse on9 th of April)?

Al-Shahaf: Two main mistakes. First, the political and diplomatic work that we did was not enough. Second, we could have done more to lengthen the military resistance.

Question 13 : What could have been done?

Al-Shahaf: The invaders were successful in isolating Iraq? The political leadership was more influential on decision making than the technical elements in the foreign ministry. This should have not been the case.

...

Question 15 : Amer (from France): What have you achieved by destroying the Great Iraq? You led the country into wars with Iran, Kuwait, and into this war. What have you achieved?

Al-Shahaf: (No answer because the interviewer took another call).

...

Question 20 : Muhammed (UAE): (Addressing Al-Sahaf angrily): Don't you regret now? Yes, or No? Answer me!

Al-Shahaf: I refuse to answer it. It's a judgmental question.

(Note: Several callers were Iraqis who were opposed to the Saddam regime. They spoke harshly to Al-Sahaf without asking specific questions).

...

Question 30 : Nour Eddin (Ireland): What happened to the one-million man Iraqi Army? Where were they in the battlefield? What happened in the Baghdad airport?

Al-Shahaf: (No answer because the interviewer took another call).

Question 31 : Fayez (Germany): Do you support the argument that Saddam will show that he was right?

Al-Shahaf: (No answer because the interviewer took another call).

Question 32 : Ammar (UAE): Arab states in the Gulf are criticizing Iraq, which is unfair particularly because they supported Iraq (during the Iran-Iraq war). I agree with the previous caller (Fayez) on that history will record whether Saddam was right or not.

Al-Shahaf: (No answer because the interviewer took another call).

...

Question 34 : How did Saddam feel during the fighting?

Al-Shahaf: He was excited during the first four days of the war, particularly for the fighting in Basra. However, he got angry when he discovered that small Party units did not do well, later.

Question 35 : Abu Ali (Iraq): Has Al-Sahaf seen the beauty of Abu Dhabi City? Has he seen the services there? Has he compared that with Iraq before the war?

Al-Shahaf: (No answer because the interviewer took another call).



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