Skip to comments.Iraqi opposition leader condemns France, Germany- Wants UN inspectors to interview GERMAN scientists
Posted on 02/10/2003 6:23:16 PM PST by HAL9000
Iraqi opposition leader lashes out at France, Germany
SULAYMANIYA, Iraq, Feb 10 (AFP) - A prominent Iraqi opposition leader Monday lashed out at France and Germany for blocking US war plans, saying the French were only seeking to protect their oil contracts and that German scientists should be interviewed by UN inspectors.
But Ahmad Chalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress (INC) umbrella opposition group, said he was convinced the United States would go to war even if some powers continued to resist a second UN resolution authorising force.
"France's policy is driven by French commercial and oil interests, they are allied to Saddam Hussein and they are trying to save him in the hope they can preserve their illicit contracts with him," Chalabi told AFP in Sulaymaniya, one of the main cities in Kurdish-held northern Iraq.
"France is not popular among the Iraqi people. They are supporting a dictator. The Iraqi people are incensed at this massive French diplomatic support for Saddam," said the US-backed leader, currently on his first visit to his country in four years.
Chalabi also hit out at Germany for what he said was its major role in developing President Saddam Hussein's illegal weapons programmes.
"It is curious that Germany should say this now," he said.
"The UN weapons inspectors should interview some of the German scientists and engineers who actually participated in the development of these weapons of mass destruction, and some of whom actually continue to participate until this day."
Russia, he said, was "much smarter, and distancing itself from Saddam Hussein."
But despite Franco-German opposition to a second UN resolution authorising the use of force, he said a US-led attack would take place unless Saddam fled the country.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell "produced a compelling case about Saddam Hussein's terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction. It goes well beyond what is necessary for the international community to act on this imminent danger," Chalabi said.
"It is not useful to pursue this line that we need more evidence and more inspections."
Asked to elaborate on the signals he was receiving from the US administration, Chalabi said it was Washington's aim for regime change and not the UN's bid for disarmament that was the core issue.
"President George W. Bush is committed to the implementation of the Iraq Liberation Act, which makes it US policy to help Iraqis replace Saddam," he said.
Chalabi also said he believed Washington had ended its years of fruitless efforts to stage a coup against Saddam Hussein. The INC has played a major role in US efforts to plot a coup, all of which have ended in embarrassing failure.
"The US has informed opposition leaders that they will not deal with a coup d'etat that takes place in Baghdad. They have told us very clearly that they will not replace a dictatorship with another dictatorship," the INC leader said.
Chalabi is visiting northern Iraq under close guard to prepare for an opposition conference to follow up on a London summit during which the anti-Baghdad groups formed a 65-member committee -- to which a further 10 names were later added -- that could form the basis of a new Iraqi government if Saddam is ousted.
The already twice postponed follow-up meeting is now tentatively scheduled to take place on February 15 in Arbil, which is controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Massoud Barzani.
Sulaymaniya is the stronghold of the KDP's rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
"It is very important for us to hold this meeting. Firstly, we must start our commitment to the independence and territorial integrity of Iraq," said Chalabi.
"Secondly, we must assert that we are the allies of the United States, not the agents of the US. And thirdly we must elect a leadership of the opposition to take charge of this transitional phase."
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