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The Iraqi vice-president has said his country was prepared for a war of attrition and that this was part of their "plan and strategy". In an exclusive interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Taha Yasin Ramadan said that the Americans and the British had to change their original plans after realizing that the war would not be a "picnic". Ramadan also said that Iraq would not accept any negotiations and that America and Britain "must pay dearly for this tyrannical aggression". The following is the text of interview broadcast by United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi TV on 25 March
The Iraqi vice-president has said that the coalition forces were surprised by the level of the resistance shown by the Iraqis. In an exclusive interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Taha Yasin Ramadan said Iraq had adopted the strategy of a of attrition against the hostile forces.
Taha Yasin Ramadan - recording
Well, sometimes one should not talk about details because given the nature of the fighting we should not talk about everything. However, to sum it up I can say that everything that is taking place now is in accordance with the strategy we drew up. If the snake coalition forces has stretched itself some kilometres inside Iraqi territory it is because we wanted it to happen; and we hope it will continue for some more days. The main thing is that they have started to admit the principle of the long war after they regarded the war as a picnic which would last three days or seven at most.
The fact that they have made changes to their plan proves the failure of the strategy they came with and which they adopted and implemented. All the operations are reassuring and are going according to our strategy.
Unidentified reporter Sometimes they announce that the US army is only 100 km from Baghdad -
Yes, it is 100 m as heard from the spot where the plane came down. They measured this distance because the plane came down in Al-Hindiyah and from Al-Hindiyah to here there are 100 or maybe less, no, possibly 110 km. If the troops are there let them come to Baghdad. But what town or village? They are still in the desert. What town or village have they entered? None. So things are going well.
Reporter Since soldiers have been killed, US equipment has been destroyed and a large number of this equipment has been seized, and since there are also prisoners, it is possible that these prisoners could be used sometime in the future as a negotiating card?
Everything in its own time. Iraq will not accept any formulas, negotiations or return to the way things were before because America and Britain must pay dearly for this tyrannical aggression and this assault, as some honourable Arabs described it, this armed assault.
Let us talk about the political stance before we talk about the international stance. What do you think about the Arab stance and the statement issued by the Arab foreign ministers? Is it enough for you? Are you planning to ask the Arabs to implement the Arab common defence agreement?
I said a bit earlier at a news conference that it is very clear that this statement does not represent even the minimum. It might have represented the minimum before the aggression, when there was the threat of aggression, but at this stage of the aggression it does not represent the minimum. We hope that the Arab brothers, the official governments, will deal with this situation as soon as possible and move forward in a direction which is close to what the Arab masses are demanding.
The Gulf theatre is the closest to the lines of fire. In the past you did not express a clear stance about the countries which had US bases on their soil, now what is your stance about these countries which have become centres for military operations?
I will not talk about a stance; I say: Whoever participates and whoever provides facilities, directly or indirectly, with intelligence, administration, services, information technology or airspace, is taking part in the aggression.
Do you expect from the axis of peace, the major capitals such as Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Beijing, a stance which is more than a condemnation of the aggression? Are you asking for bolder measures?
Ramadan We will not ask anything from anyone. This matter is linked to world security and peace as you know, and when their stances were towards peace it was not out of sympathy or love for Iraq, as everybody knows, but they felt and were convinced that this US-British behaviour was only aimed at dominating the entire world and stressing and highlighting the logic of the single pole, and that consequently they too would be under domination and not just the Arab homeland, even if the Arab homeland would be under greater pressure. We believe that the steadfastness of the Iraqi people will push these countries to adopt a more advanced stance.
Something has turned the equation upside down to the extent that President Bush has said: We will probably change our military plans. They were expecting to be welcomed by the Iraqi people, especially in the south, with flowers and music. Now fierce battles are taking place; according to our sources, it is the people who are fighting. How do you assess this stance by the people? Did you expect this and will it continue?
We expect more than this. So far the Iraqi people have not expressed their readiness, their capability and their method of confrontation because nothing has happened yet. The entire people are waiting for them. What has happened is merely a sample and a taste of things to come. This was not beyond our expectations, on the contrary we are the children of this people. We are not in Washington or Britain, we are in Iraq; we are the children of Iraq and the men of Iraq and we know our people very well. Fighting in the south will be the fiercest compared to the north and the centre.
Are you prepared for a long war, a war of attrition?
This is our plan and our strategy.
What do you think about the media war which may take precedence over the military war, especially on the battlefronts? They have said that the president's family had been injured and that this campaign targeted you too. Is this intended to destabilize the political situation and the people?
They regard any of their media plan as a prelude to an aggression but I believe that six days on many of these things have now been exposed. If there was a proper Arab media activity I believe it could throw light on this and remind people of what they had said a few days before the aggression, what they said in the first days of the aggression and what the truth is. This would enlighten the Arab people further and enable them to know what the lies are. We have examples: there was the alleged occupation of Umm Qasr on the first day; on the second the occupation of Basra; and on the third the occupation of Al-Nasiriyah. But things turned out to be different later.
When planes come down, they say it was a technical failure; when a plane comes down in Al-Nasiriyah or in Baghdad, they say it was shot down by a Patriot missile . Come on. They want us to believe that a Patriot missile comes all the way from Kuwait and reaches Baghdad, the Tigris River, and shoots down a plane.
Are you pained by the Arab stance, that of the governments and of the peoples?
I am sad; sad about this stance of the Arab leaders.
Reporter Thank you.
Ramadan Thank you.
Copyright Abu Dhabi TV and BBC 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .