As Americans debate whether to go to war with Iraq, two representatives from Iraqi opposition groups Monday urged students to support U.S. intervention in helping overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Qubad Talabani, U.S. representative for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Ghalib Bradosti, a representative for the Iraqi Tribal Coalition, said most Iraqis want a regime change, a move they said requires U.S. intervention. Talabani and Bradosti spoke to about 40 students in Pierson College at a Master’s Tea titled “What Iraqis think about war in Iraq.” Many audience members expressed surprise at the two representatives’ pro-war position.
Talabani said Iraq urgently needs to be liberated from Saddam Hussein’s regime. He said the United States must first help oust Hussein from power and remain in Iraq to help rebuild the country.
“It is required that the U.S. help Iraqis rebuild their lives,” Talabani said. “We urge the U.S. to stick it through because we seek a fundamental change in the way Iraq is controlled.”
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is a Kurdish political party in Iraq.
Bradosti said it is the United States’ responsibility to put its own people at stake for Iraq.
“More than 24 million people need to be liberated,” Bradosti said. “Iraqi people are upset by the anti-war movement and there is no way to explain the suffering they are going through.”
Talabani added that sending forces to help liberation causes is something that the United States, in its role as a super power, needs to do.
“My people are in danger and we look to the U.S. as a ‘big brother’ and we need its help,” Talabani said. “With U.S. aid can come about the liberation of millions of people in an entire region and brings the possibility of building a bridge between the U.S. and Iraq.”
Students questioned Iraq’s ability to sustain a democracy should the Hussein regime end, focusing on the nation’s oil industry.
One student said Iraq’s large oil industry threatens democracy because of the possibility for government corruption. Talabani responded with a proposed idea for a change in the oil industry.
“Iraq’s oil has been a curse on our people,” Talabani said. “There has been talk about taking the oil out of the government’s hand and putting it in the control of private companies.”
Another student said the only way the United Nations and the United States could strike is if there were an “imminent threat” to the United States. He asked Talabani and Bradosti to give an example of an “imminent threat” against the United States.
“I will say to that: Do not look for a smoking gun, look for a gun that is being loaded,” Talabani said. “Iraq has shown potential for bio-terrorism, international terrorism, and will not think twice about attacking the U.S. That is an imminent threat.”
Talabani said U.S. military protection is necessary for members of the Iraqi oppositon.
“We are grateful to the protection that the U.S. provides and know that it is crucial,” Talabani said.