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Madrid Declaration: Road to Democratic Iraq

 

Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, right, inaugurates an international conference on the future of democracy in Iraq in Madrid, Spain. Seated is Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed Ali, one of the leaders of the Iraqi national congress.

Bernardo Rodriguez / AP Photo

Iraqis "will build their own future, choose their own leaders and enjoy their own bounty," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar during Spain’s sponsored conference held for prominent Iraqis from at least 9 varying political groups. Together in Madrid, the Iraqis continue to work through the tough political process in order to establish a democratic post-Saddam government.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Ana Palacio took part in the opening dialogue, and official Jorge Moragas told reporters, "Our role is really to facilitate dialogue..we realize that dialogue among Iraqi groups is complicated."

The meetings in Spain with over 100 Iraqi delegates usher in the Madrid Declaration which paves the way for more high level talks in Baghdad this week. The declaration carries with it an advancing banner of basic human rights and equality for all in Iraq. In Baghdad, the Iraqi leaders will work out more details of their government with interim government facilitator General Garner. There they will reach additional steps for a desired outcome to fully realize and maintain the freedom delivered to them by Allied nations for their people. The opposition to a democratic process is ever present in Iraq, such as those brought on by Iranian political activities amongst the newly freed Iraqis or those wanting an extremist religious state. Officials have said that such a position would threaten a return to a similar stranglehold regime as was seen in Saddam’s controlled Iraq.

On Abu Dhabi TV Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld addressed Iran’s attempts to disrupt the freedom in Iraq through such means as utilizing Iranian activists saying, "I believe that people naturally want to be free. I believe that the Iraqi people do too, they didn’t fight a long war with Iran because they’d like Iran to come in and run their country."

Rumsfeld also revealed information that has not been widely reported about some of the problems the Iraqi people and Coalition forces face in keeping peace in Iraq. He said of the munitions explosion that killed a U.S. soldier and Iraqis. "There are still people shooting; there are still people attempting to blow up things who are left-overs from the Fedayeen Saddam crowd, from the paramilitaries, and from the regime of Saddam Hussein." "They do things like that, and they do it to blame it on the United States and to blame it on the Coalition. And it’s important for people in television and in the press to understand that.

"We recently had a picture of a Red Crescent vehicle, and it had the big red crescent on it like a red cross in the United States and other countries, and we found it; we opened it up. There was no medicine, there were no stretchers; there was no assistance for people in need. What was in it? It was a military vehicle. It was a military vehicle pure and simple that had been redesigned and then they fraudulently put on it that it was a Red Crescent vehicle. And that’s been a pattern of that regime. It’s a pattern of people today, trying to do things that kill innocent Iraqis, and then try to blame it on other people, and it’s important for people in the media business to tell the truth about things like that."

These are the same types of problems that will likely continue through the meetings and conferences as the interim government with General Garner leaves and the new democratic Iraq emerges for all the political and religious groups in Iraq.

The Iraqi National Congress has been involved in the Madrid Declaration meetings and is another leading force in the Iraqi political landscape. It has played a key role in the arrest of at least seven of the 55 on the U.S. list of war criminals known as the ‘Most Wanted.’ The INC reportedly has a network of supporters who have been in Iraq before the war. The Iraqi people themselves have been highly interested in seeing the end of oppression and fear and many report to Coalition forces those known to be involved in terror, crimes against humanity, or agitators deliberately working to create chaos.

The London Sunday Telegraph reports that documents that were found in a building that housed Iraqi Intelligence offices show a direct link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Reportedly the locals aren’t surprised, and neither are the Coalition leaders, yet the discovered documents are being transported to Coalition officials for examination.

Coalition troops were killed by terrorists in Iraq; they posed as civilians and then detonated explosives they were wearing as they neared the soldiers. Iraqis led Coalition troops to the discovery of hundreds of custom made bomb laden vests.

In Madrid, several of the Iraqi delegates had reportedly said they want Saddam (if he is found alive) to be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Spain’s leadership has been key to the diplomatic process for Iraqi; the meetings in Madrid fostered an agreement between strong Iraqi political groups.

Last Week in London, Spain and Britain Discussed Iraqi Freedom; the Middle East "Road Map" peace process, Blair Addresses Alleged Saddam Regime Conspirator Labour Party Member George Galloway, Aznar Remembers Winston Churchill

Speaking after talks in London with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the Prime Minister of Britain stressed that the situation in Iraq continues to improve. He said:

"It is very clear, as we saw from the Shia pilgrimage to Karbala, that there are freedoms that people are enjoying in Iraq today, freedoms to agree and freedoms to disagree that they have been denied for many long years under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. It is also very clear from the discoveries that have been made just in the past few days just how fundamentally brutal this regime was."

Both Prime Ministers welcomed the agreement between Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen on the nominations for the new Cabinet of the Palestinian Authority.

Read the full transcript below:

Prime Minister Blair:

Good evening everyone and welcome to our press conference. First of all, can I extend the warmest welcome to President Aznar? I am delighted to see him here in Downing Street. I would like to pay a special tribute to his courage and to his leadership over these past few months, which has been of enormous benefit not just to the coalition, but I believe also to the security and stability of the wider world.

He and I have just finished a short time ago a conversation with President Bush where we discussed the present situation, the outcome of the coalition action, the future of Iraq and, also, the Middle East Peace Process. Perhaps I can just say a word about those issues.

Iraq continues to stabilise. It is very clear, as we saw from the Shia pilgrimage to Karbala, that there are freedoms that people are enjoying in Iraq today, freedoms to agree and freedoms to disagree that they have been denied for many long years under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. It is also very clear from the discoveries that have been made just in the past few days just how fundamentally brutal this regime was: the prisons where thousands of people were tortured and died; the mass graves of those who dared to disagree with the regime; the environmental degradation committed by Saddam’s forces; the sheer terror that that population lived under for many, many long years. And for all the difficulties, I have no doubt at all that it is both our duty and our opportunity to make sure that for the future people in Iraq can live free from fear, free from tyranny, and with a government genuinely representative of the Iraqi people. That is what we are working towards.

We are also doing everything we can to improve the humanitarian situation there and to usher in an era in Iraq where not merely do we achieve the same levels of facilities that they had before the conflict, but that we also enhance those facilities so that people have better access to the fundamental needs and services that they require. Again, what is very clear just in these past few weeks is that the Iraqi people – given the chance, given their character as a people, given the potential wealth of the country – could have a future of prosperity, justice and freedom for all.

In addition, obviously, we discussed the Middle East Peace Process. Again, I would like to thank President Aznar for his interventions that I think have had a significant and positive outcome on the discussions of recent days. We are delighted that the Palestinian cabinet has been agreed under the Prime Minister Abu Mazen. There is now every chance we can make progress in the Middle East. The appointment of the cabinet allows the Roadmap to be published – a set of proposals for peace in the Middle East drawn up by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN. I have no doubt at all that there is a genuine commitment the world over to make sure we can make a reality of the two-state solution: Israel, confident of its security and recognised by the Arab world, and a viable Palestinian state.

Finally, we also agreed on the essential importance of continuing the fight against terrorism in all its forms. This is an evil that both of our countries know and have experienced over many years. We are committed to redoubling our efforts, both in our own countries and abroad, to dealing with it.

So, José Maria, many thanks indeed for being here. We will have more talks later this evening. There will be an interlude for a certain match, the merits of which we will not go into at the press conference, but we are looking forward to that. Once again, many, many thanks for all you have done over these past few weeks and months; it has been of tremendous support and assistance.

Prime Minister Aznar:

Good evening everyone. I would like to thank Prime Minister Tony Blair for his welcome, his hospitality, once again. Very briefly, I would like to say to the Prime Minister that I would like to thank him personally for the work he has been carrying out throughout these last months and to congratulate him for the results of his work. It is a political task that I have seen him carry out from close up, so it is not a problem to recognise it. On the contrary, it is a great satisfaction to be able to congratulate him.

I would like to say firstly that I fully agree with what the Prime Minister has said so I have not much to add to that. With regard to the crisis originated by Iraq, I think we have done what we had to do. We have been up to our responsibilities and obligations; we have acted as good and loyal allies. We have known how to assume the challenges, the threats it meant for international security. At present, we are absolutely resolved to continue working together as good and firm allies in order to guarantee security, to project peace and security, not only for the Iraqis’ future, but for the entire region.

From that standpoint, I would like to say that Spain’s commitment is very firm in all the processes, both political and in participating in the reconstruction and stability processes in Iraq and in the entire area. Secondly, as Prime Minister Blair has expressed, I would like to join him about the agreement reached between Mr Arafat and Mr Abu Mazen. We think it is a fundamental step as we have said. We have had the opportunity to talk about this, and to intervene in a most positive way. All of which has given rise to a whole set of expectations for security and stability in the region, new expectations for peace and peaceful coexistence between two states in a harmonious way with security and with freedom both for Israel and Palestine. Our commitment and our determination is total and we have been working on this for a long time very intensively. We are going to continue doing so.

Thirdly, I would like to say I fully share the Prime Minister’s words with regard to the anti-terrorist struggle. As he said, it is a problem we know well. It is one of the world’s greatest problems and we are fully resolved to face up to it. Spain, at present, chairs the Anti -Terrorist Committee of the United Nations and we received the baton from the United Kingdom in the committee. We will continue working as hard as we can so that, from the standpoint of legislation, financing and commitment of states against terrorism, we can free the world of one of its most terrible scourges, which we assume is one of our responsibilities as well. I just wanted to say that in this, we were also in agreement.

In the meeting we have held, thanks to globalisation – the expression of globalisation is good communications, and thanks to them – we have held a very positive meeting with President Bush. I would like to reiterate my testimony of gratitude to Prime Minister Blair and recognition and congratulations for the work and his success.

Question:

Prime Ministers, I think you both have in common the fact that you have both had to battle against pretty hostile public opinion in your own countries against your policy towards Iraq. Even now, you are both, to a greater or lesser degree, continuing to face opposition. Prime Minister Blair, can I ask you, what do you say to those critics who say to you that, despite what you have just said about Iraq stabilising, what you have left behind is a mess and a recipe for long-term anarchy? And what do you propose to do about one critic in particular, George Galloway, who you have already said is a disgrace?

Prime Minister Blair:

In relation to George Galloway, I think this may be the subject of legal proceedings. I do not think it is right for me to comment on that; I do not want to intervene. I have made my views clear on what he had to say during the war, but on the allegations in the newspapers, I do not think it would be right for me to comment on that.

In respect of public opinion, this was a tough battle; it was always going to be. Let me say once again, I do not disrespect anybody who took a different point of view, but what I always had in my mind was the nature of this regime. When you read the details of the torture chambers, the prisons, the thousands upon thousands of people that Saddam killed, far more than any coalition action could ever do, then I think, even if people have disagreed with us going to war, they can at least see that the Iraqi people have greater freedom and greater hope today than they had in the years under Saddam. We have not left. We are going to help Iraq get on its feet, make use of the prodigious talent of the Iraqi people and let the Iraqi people create in Iraq a country of greater democracy, freedom and prosperity. They can do that and we will help them do that. So, for people who are still criticising us today, I just ask them: wait until you make your final judgement; wait and see whether we carry out the commitment we have given to Iraqi people not to desert them, but to help them. If we do, and if Iraq then becomes the country I believe that it can, then I hope even those that have opposed us, will at least recognise that our motives were sincere and our actions after the conflict have borne some testimony to that.

Prime Minister Aznar:

The advantage of democracies is that we can all have our opinion on what the government does and that is an asset of democracy, and that cannot be done anywhere where there is not a democracy. In Iraq, after 25 or 30 years, for the first time, part of the Shia population have been pilgrims in cities very important to them. That is because they have the freedom to do so. I think that the public citizens, who often have a different view from that of governments, in the end, what they do not accept is irresponsibility. A government may have to take difficult decisions, but they always have to think of everyone’s security and safety. That is something that citizens, in the end, understand.

Ever since I was small I learnt from a British Prime Minister whose portrait I saw coming up the stairs, Winston Churchill, that one has to be up to one’s responsibilities and I think that is something citizens appreciate.

Question:

Do you think that the sanctions should be lifted quickly? Do inspectors have to return, in your opinion, in order for sanctions to be lifted? Also, could you give a brief reflection on Iraq’s political future? Iraq has to be democratic. Does this exclude the possibility of it being an Islamic state, in your opinion?

Prime Minister Blair:

First of all, in relation to sanctions, of course we want to see them lifted as soon as possible. We are beginning the whole process of trying to identify the possible sites where there are weapons of mass destruction. I have no doubt at all that we need some independent verification of that process at that particular time. Exactly how that is done, as I have said before, should be discussed with the United Nations and with other key allies.

In relation to the political future of Iraq, the basic principle has to be this: it has to be, first of all, an interim authority that is genuinely representative of the Iraqi people, and then there will be – I have no doubt – out of that a new Iraqi constitution that, again, the Iraqi people should draw together. I think there will be many debates and many questions that they have, but it is surely better that they have the chance to decide their own future today than the situation there has been for the past 25, 30 or more years where they have had no opportunity to decide their future at all.

Prime Minister Aznar:

I substantially agree on the first and second part. It is a matter of building a political community. It is not the task of the coalition or the United Nations to build a religious community. I think one of the most significant things is that, in Iraq, there was not a state, but a despotic, personal regime. Now, it is a question of building the foundations of a truly democratic state with plurality corresponding to its condition.

Question:

Do you see any reason now why the Middle East Roadmap cannot be published immediately?

Prime Minister Blair:

No, absolutely. It will be published as soon as the formalities for the cabinet have gone through. We have said that when the Palestinian cabinet is properly in power, that is when the Roadmap will be published, and it will be. I hope people will see from that then that it sets out a genuine way forward for the Middle East. I think that one of the most positive things that can happen for the whole of the Middle East is that people really see progress in the Middle East Peace Process and that they recognise that a more stable and prosperous Iraq in only one part of a vision for the Middle East of greater freedom for people, greater prosperity and greater opportunity for peaceful coexistence between people of different faiths.

Question:

I have a question for both of you. Have you analysed in your conversations the current relations between France and the United States, especially after the statements by Colin Powell, and whether, in any case, it would be necessary for either of you or both of you to mediate?

Prime Minister Blair

The relations between two countries are relations for themselves. I am sure they will be able to handle any discussions they need to have in their own way. I think that is the best thing to say to you. But I hope very much that we can come to a clear understanding that the world works best when Europe and America are partners together – where we are not rivals, but partners – because if we do work in the spirit of partnership, I think the world is more secure and I think the opportunities to destabilise the world are significantly diminished. On the individual relations between countries, if you will forgive me, that is a matter for them.

Prime Minister Aznar:

I agree, and I have to say that I am convinced that our efforts towards a common understanding in any positive proposals to solve our current problem of stabilising and guaranteeing the future of Iraq were always positive. Any contribution and any effort is necessary. Sometimes we may have different positions. Sometimes some feelings may rise along the way, but what is truly important is the will to have common understanding and to strengthen these relationships, which are so important for the world’s peace and security. I think Europe has two vital, strategic decisions to take: one, to open up economically to the world; and, secondly, to have good allies. Our security and our prosperity lie in that, and also, to a certain degree, the world’s. I trust we will be able to do so.