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Interview with Nile Gardiner, Heritage Foundation - 2003-05-23


The UN Security Council vote to lift economic sanctions against Iraq is going to have both political and economic implications for the country. VOA-TV’s Carol Pearson discussed this with an analyst, Dr. Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.

CAROL PEARSON
Dr. Gardiner would you say that lifting of the economic sanctions against Iraq after 13 years is a victory for the United States and Britain or is it a common sense thing to do to lift sanctions against a government that doesn’t exist anymore.

DR. NILE GARDINER
Well, I think it was certainly was a considerable victory of the UN Security Council but it was also a victory for common sense because these sanctions apply specifically to the Saddam Hussein regime. And are clearly no longer applicable to a liberated Iraq. So all in all, I think that the Security Council made a very sensible decision but also is was a considerable diplomatic victory for Washington and London.

CAROL PEARSON
In what way?

DR. NILE GARDINER
Well, the French and the Russians for example were threatening to hold up the lifting of sanctions. They were talking about suspending sanctions. Moscow and Paris saw these sanctions really as a bargaining chip, as a means through which they could try to advance their own economic and strategic interests in Iraq. Clearly, I think the Russians and French have failed to do so.

CAROL PEARSON
There are some people who would say that the United States is trying to advance its own economic interests in Iraq.

DR. NILE GARDINER
I don’t think so at all actually. This was a war fought for two key reasons. First, to liberate the people of Iraq from a brutal dictator. Secondly, to deal with a rogue regime that acted as a state sponsored terrorism that also produced weapons of mass destruction. So I don’t think that economics or a grab for oil featured at all with the thinking of Washington policy makers on this.

CAROL PEARSON
There haven’t been any of substantial weapons of mass destruction that have been found. So other critics say that this was not a justifiable war to begin with.

DR. NILE GARDINER
Well, I think that it’s in its early days at the moment. I do believe that we will find weapons of mass destruction. I believe the Iraqis may have already destroyed some chemical or biological supplies or have shipped them off to Syria. But I do believe that ultimately we will find substantial quantities for example of chemical or biological weapons. It’s just a matter of time really.

CAROL PEARSON
Part of what this vote did, UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said that it gave the United Nations, the international community a legal basis for activity in Iraq. To what extent, would you expect the United Nations to become involved in rebuilding Iraq?

DR. NILE GARDINER
Well I think that the UN will have a very limited role in post-war Iraq. Kofi Annan will be represented with a special UN representative. But that representative will have minimal influence over the actual decisions taken by the U.S. and British governments in the form of the authority, as they are known. Therefore, I believe that the UN role will be primarily focused upon humanitarian intervention plus a considerable role in reconstruction. But as for the actual running of post-war Iraq, I believe that the UN role will be extremely limited.

CAROL PEARSON
At what point would you expect the Iraqi people to feel the benefit of the lifting of the sanctions and the oil money from Iraq to be able to reconstruct their country?

DR. NILE GARDINER
I think that we will start to see the benefits flowing through in the next few months definitely. A big question remains as to whether the 13 billions dollars in contracts signed between for example French and Russian companies and the previous Iraqi regime will be honored. So there is a huge amount of money being held by the United Nations. I hope that that money will be returned to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.

CAROL PEARSON
And finally, Syria was not present for the Security Council vote although Syria is currently a member of the Security Council; do you read anything into that?

DR. NILE GARDINER
Well the Syrians boycotted the vote, I think Syria has quite a lot to hide in terms of its cooperation with the previous Iraqi regime also Syria is a state sponsored terrorism. It’s producing weapons of mass destruction. And therefore, the Syrians, I think, are very sensitive about various allegations being made about Damascus at the moment. And they have stayed away from this very important security council debate but obviously I think they have a great deal to hide.

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