News Release

Interviews Available: Critical Voices on Iraq

STEPHEN ZUNES
Associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and senior policy analyst and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project, Zunes said today: “Claims of Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda appear to be little more than a desperate effort by administration officials to convince the American public to support a reckless military adventure. Reports by the State Department, the CIA, the FBI and foreign intelligence agencies have all found no evidence to support such assertions. Osama bin Laden and his fundamentalist Al Qaeda movement have long demonstrated their hatred of Saddam Hussein and his secular Ba’ath Party, and the Iraqi dictator has been ruthless in his repression of Islamist opponents. Iraq’s support of international terrorism peaked during the 1980s and was limited to radical secular groups like Abu Nidal. (Ironically, the U.S. dropped Iraq from its list of states sponsoring terrorism during that period in order to provide Saddam’s regime with economic and military assistance!) Furthermore, Saddam Hussein is foremost a survivor. He knows that to give any support to Al Qaeda would provide the Bush administration the excuse it has been looking for to invade Iraq and topple his regime.”
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ANAS SHALLAL
A “Partner for Peace” with the Seeds of Peace program, one of the founders of the Mesopotamia Cultural Society and an independent Iraqi-American business owner in Washington, D.C., Shallal said today: “There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how most Iraqis feel about the situation. I currently have relatives from Iraq visiting me. They definitely want to see some change, but they don’t want it to come from outside. They want to be able to make that change themselves. The Iraqi National Congress is an unsavory group of people. They are tainted by all the CIA money they have taken and are not very well respected by the Iraqi mainstream. For any change to be credible, it has to come from within the society. Iraqis are under sanctions and this has taken a real toll, and they blame most of that on the West. The sanctions have also isolated Iraqis in terms of information and freedom of movement and that makes Saddam more powerful.”

PHYLLIS BENNIS
Bennis spoke on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. She is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-editor of Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167