Accessibility links

Arab American Perspective from Kato Saadlla - 2003-04-10


VOA’s David Borgida interviews Kato Saadlla, Secretary General of the Iraqi National Front and member of the Civil Society and Public Outreach working groups for the future of Iraq.

MR. BORGIDA
Joining us now, Kato Saadlla, Secretary-General of the Iraqi National Front, one of the groups of Iraqi-Americans in the United States taking a very keen interest in what is going on, obviously.

Mr. Saadlla, we just ran a report, saying that Iraqi reaction around the world to the war in Iraq is rather mixed, with views strongly held on both sides. How would you describe and assess the mood of Iraqi-Americans into this third week?

MR. SAADLLA
I think all Iraqi-Americans here in the United States are very happy, especially yesterday when we saw some pictures in Detroit of how the Iraqi-Americans went in the street and people were greeting each other very happily. I received many calls.

So, what we see right now, the mix you are talking about, is not about we got free from Saddam, but the question is the next step. We have a big task ahead of us, going back to rebuild our country.

MR. BORGIDA
Before you do that, let me ask you this question. It's important for our audience to understand this. What would you say, Mr. Saadlla, to an Arab-American or someone else outside the country who views the U.S. efforts in Iraq as an occupation, as an effort to get Iraqi oil? What would you say to that person?

MR. SAADLLA
Well, what I would say is, look, this is my issue. I have been through that depression for more than 30 years. Iraq has been suffering, not you. And we deserve some freedom. We know very well you've been taking Iraq's fortune for so many years; Saddam has given you money. Of course, the people that get unhappy with this liberation, they are the ones who received money to act as a terrorist against a free people. There is no more money from Saddam Hussein to give it to terrorist groups.

So, they are the people that are unhappy. We're talking about Arab people who will miss or lose all this benefit that they were getting before from Saddam Hussein.

MR. BORGIDA
Interesting. Now, let's move on to the postwar, or at least this particular period now. What is probably one or two of the most important things that have to be done in Iraq now?

MR. SAADLLA
That's a good question. Actually, right now, after we saw the big picture yesterday, that President Bush said that right now Iraq got free from a dictatorship, we have a big task ahead of us. We need to go back and rebuild our country. And of course, it's not an easy task. Like we saw today, there are still some Iraqi cells, terrorist cells, inside Iraq, which we have lost our friend Mr. Abdul Majid Al-Khoei today in Najaf. So, we need a security environment to go and rebuild the country.

We do have a plan we worked out for many months with the State Department. The plan is ready to go, and we are waiting, once the security environment is cleared in Baghdad and all Iraq, we are going to go back and start working hard to rebuild.

MR. BORGIDA
Briefly, in the last 30 seconds or so, this is a tough question, I know, but politics, an important question inside Iraq. Do you see the process of coming together as a country to be very protracted or can it be accomplished in a shorter period of time?

MR. SAADLLA
I think nothing is easy. And after all these years of dictatorship, it won't be easy. But I am sure of one thing, that the Iraqis are able to come together and rebuild their country.

MR. BORGIDA
A very diplomatic answer. We appreciate that. In this short a period of time, a tough question.

Kato Saadlla, Secretary-General of the Iraqi National Front here in the United States. Thanks, sir for joining us.

MR. SAADLLA
Thank you for having me.

XS
SM
MD
LG