Members of the Middle East Council met at the Iraqi mission on Dec. 9, 1992, with Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations in New York and that country's senior diplomat abroad.
Among other things, they heard a number of friendly signals during the course of the meeting. When reading the following statements by Ambassador Hamdoon, however, recall the old adage about a diplomat being someone paid to lie on behalf of his country.
Why did the Iraqis not withdraw partially from Kuwait before January 15, 1991? Because Saddam was skeptical that the Americans would really go to war; and if they did, he believed the first casualties would undermine their will to continue. What actually happened, in short, came as a monumental surprise.
The Iraqi government controls "over two-thirds" of Iraq.
Saddam Husayn attacked Israel to win Arab support. Peace with Israel will be possible as part of a regional settlement.
Baghdad should eventually be prepared to initiate confidence-building measures, including the peace process with Israel and other regional issues, oil matters, human rights, elections, and the development of a constitution.
Baghdad accepts ongoing monitoring by the U.N. but seeks to have economic sanctions lifted. Iraq is not going back to nuclear weaponry "or all that stuff."
The continued claim to Kuwait as Iraq's 19th province comes from the media only, not from officials, and so does not represent government policy.
The Kurds will eventually have to negotiate with Baghdad, in part because the U.S. government will once again disappoint them.
Sep. 21, 2003 update: I published an "Obituary for Nizar Hamdoon (1944-2003)" today in the Middle East Quarterly.