1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 1998
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS
MARTIN S. INDYK

[

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REP. GILMAN We also have serious concerns about how to address the 
ongoing threats of Iraq. And as you know, just a few days ago the 
committee marked up a resolution finding Iraq in material breach of its 
requirements of the post-war cease-fire. We differ also with the 
administration over how to support opposition efforts. . . .

REP. HAMILTON  Finally, we here, all of us, agree on the goals and 
United States policies toward Iraq; achieving full compliance with the 
U.N. resolutions. But Congress and the president, I think, have to work 
to try to speak together with a single voice.  These are really major 
differences between the Congress and the administration with respect to 
Iraq. There is no silver bullet to change Iraq, either.  Containing 
Iraqi military power, reaching out to the suffering of the Iraqi people 
and making a clear road map for bringing Iraq back into the 
international community, I think, represent the best policies at an 
acceptable cost, to protect and promote American interests. We welcome 
you, Mr. Secretary.  We look forward to your testimony. . .

MR. INDYK Iraq, under the brutal rule of Saddam Hussein, continues to be 
a potential source of instability in the region, but recent revelations 
about Saddam Hussein's continued deceit concerning his weapons of mass 
destruction program have reinforced our argument that Iraq is far from 
complying with the Security Council resolutions, and these revelations 
have helped counter pressure to lift sanctions.  Meanwhile, the expanded 
U.N. program to ensure that the basic humanitarian needs of the Iraqi 
people are being met, that program is in place and the situation of the 
Iraqi people is now continuing to improve.  Using money appropriated by 
this Congress, we have also developed a program of overt support for the 
Iraqi opposition designed to make it more politically effective and to 
assist in its efforts to document Saddam's war crimes and to prepare the 
ground for an indictment of Saddam Hussein as a war criminal...
REP. LOIS CAPPS (D-CA) I want to ask a question which I broached with 
you during the break regarding the hardship being suffered by the Iraqi 
people.  It is estimated that there are a million and a half Iraqi 
people, including a half-million children, who have died as a result of 
the U.N. sanctions, since 1990.  Despite the fairly recent increase in 
the oil-for-food program, this is continuing.  And I have reports from 
my constituents who tell me of first-hand knowledge of terrible 
sufferings that are going on there.  And I want to know if there is any 
way we can be doing more, or we can be doing something to keep the Iraqi 
military contained (and) at the same helping to alleviate the suffering 
of the Iraqi people.  And if there's time, I have another short question 
about Jordan.

MR. INDYK: Yes.  First of all, I think it's important to note that there 
is no sanction on the importation of food and medicines to Iraq, and 
Saddam Hussein has always had the ability to spend money on meeting the 
basic needs of the Iraqi people, and he has chosen not to do so.  He has 
chosen, instead, to build these unbelievable, uninhabited palaces as 
mausoleums to his ego, and then play on the suffering of the Iraqi 
people for propaganda purposes. Out of recognition that he would not 
meet their basic needs because it served his purposes not to do so, we 
introduced this concept, under Resolution 986  

REP. CAPPS: Mmm-hmm. (In acknowledgement.)

MR. INDYK: -- of allowing Iraq to sell oil, putting the money from those 
sales of oil into a U.N. escrow account and making sure that that money 
was spent for humanitarian supplies, including medicines for the Iraqi 
people.

   The secretary-general recommended an expansion of that program, and 
we supported that to the point where Iraq is now allowed to export $11.2 
billion worth of oil annually to meet the needs of the Iraqi people.  By 
U.N. estimates, that far exceeds the amount of money necessary to 
provide for food and medicine for the Iraqi people, and some of that 
money will be spent on upgrading hospitals and schools and the 
electricity infrastructure, and so on.  So that the program, as it kicks 
in, is going to go beyond that basic humanitarian need to improving the 
conditions of the Iraqi people, and we're doing that under U.N. control, 
control of the money, control of the contracts, monitoring of the 
distribution.  We're doing it because Saddam Hussein himself will not do 
it.  

   And one of the disturbing developments in this regard -- there was a 
story in the New York Times yesterday -- I don't know whether you saw it 
-- in which they reported that because this program is now working and 
is alleviating the plight of the Iraqi people, Saddam Hussein is 
considering cancelling it, cancelling cooperation with it, because we 
are in the process of denying him the propaganda benefit of, you know, 
babies in caskets on the tops of taxis, which he made great play of in 
the last crisis.

REP. CAPPS: Right.

MR. INDYK: I believe that within the next six months, if this program 
goes forward, as I hope it will, we will see a significant improvement 
in the conditions of the Iraqi people.  And we certainly are very 
concerned to meet that requirement. . . .

REP. SALMON: Thank you.

The chairman did have a few questions.  I appreciate your patience in 
staying here so long.  The chairman did have a few questions if you 
wouldn't mind. What is the administration's assessment of the prospects 
of overthrowing Saddam Hussein?

MR. INDYK: It's always difficult to make an accurate assessment when 
you're faced with a ruthless -- totalitarian personality, in control of 
an effective security apparatus, who has succeeded in thwarting various 
efforts to overthrow him in the past.

  So I'm loath to make a prediction about the certainty of his demise or 
the longevity of his horrendous rule.  I think that if and when he goes, 
it's likely to be sudden and unexpected.  But beyond that, it is hard to 
say.  He certainly is not a popular leader in Iraq.  If the people of 
Iraq were able to have their say, then I think he would have been long 
gone.  And the question is, how can we work with those who oppose his 
regime to manifest an effective alternative to him that may help in the 
process of undermining his hold on power?

REP. SALMON: What would be the prospects for a civil war if the -- in 
Iraq if the diverse exile opposition groups succeeded in ousting him?

MR. INDYK: You know, there have been some very dire predictions about 
what would happen in those circumstances.  I personally tend to be more 
sanguine.  I think that there is a lot more cohesion to the Iraqi state 
and to the Iraqi people than is normally given them credit for. There 
was, after the Iran-Iraq -- I'm sorry -- after the Gulf War, there was 
great concern that the Shi'ite rebellion in the South would lead to the 
breakaway of the South under Iranian tutelage.  I think that fear was 
much exaggerated and unfortunately led to or had an influence on the 
calculations of Iraq's southern neighbors and of Washington about 
whether to support that rebellion or not.  So I don't think that we 
should be overly concerned about that.  
 
   We obviously have long argued that it is important that -- the unity 
of Iraq is important and we want to see the territorial integrity of 
Iraq.  We think that concerns about its disintegration are much 
exaggerated.