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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Iraq MOI Falah Al Nakib and Iraq MOD Hazem Sha' Alan Friday, June 25, 2004
June 25, 2004

MIN. AL-NAKIB:  We decided to have a joint press conference.  In addition to that, our country is going through a difficult period against Iraq and the Iraqi people.  In addition to that, as to what we said before, there are two points. The first point, to mention to the Iraqi people our united country, one Iraq.  There are very many good people, men of Iraq, and they've decided to stand against the attacks against the Iraqis.


The second point:  There is coordination between the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, headed by the prime minister.


The circumstances Iraq is passing through now very sensitive and precise.  But we are confident that the Iraqi people are standing as one and we will be victorious shortly with the help of Allah.


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  We wish you a constructive time, so that you can get whatever you want for the information you require.


MIN SHA'ALAN:  As the secretary of interior said, there is total coordination between the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior. This coordination is backed by the prime minister and by the president of Iraq.  Both these gentlemen, both these parties, the minister of defense and the minister of interior, have a heavier responsibility, and that's to confront the beastly attacks from outside the borders of this country with certainty.  We have potential to develop the forces and to say to the others that the Iraqis are now aware of the dirty games that these foreign, alien forces are playing.  And with God's help, and with the greatest of help, we will pursue these people, and we will keep the Iraqi people safe and secure and establish democracy in Iraq.


We have been tortured a lot, and they've destroyed our tradition and our cultures, and we have -- other people have taken advantage of us.  But today is the day for the Iraqi people to say to these traitors the time has come for a duel.  And with God's help, it will be a great duel, a great contest in which the Iraqi people will ultimately be victorious.


We now leave to you, ladies and gentlemen, the questions.


Q:  And the minister of interior -- the minister of interior will have initiative as the Ministry of Interior will in fact have the front line in this, with the full support of the Ministry of Defense.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  I should like to remind people that within the last 48 hours Iraq has sacrificed many civilians -- men, Iraqi men -- sacrificed by and killed by killers who are determined to slaughter the Iraqis and Iraqi people, and we send our greatest condolences to all the Iraqis who have stood to protect the Iraqi people.  They are the ones who will protect this country, and we are proud of the, and we will not short-change them and their families.  And this is our duty and responsibility, because they have protected the Iraqi people, apart from the civilians who have also suffered.


Q:  Sami Hassan (ph).  The question is you always mention about foreign aliens involved in these fights.  I have no doubt as soon as possible we will provide you with evidence to that.  We are waiting for the role of the Interior Ministry.  The traffic police does not have equipment, and generally police don't seem to have adequate equipment.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  It's true we have many deficiencies.  We have effectively started to reorganize the police.  All the security forces obviously should have adequate weapons.


Q:  Al Minar (ph).  I have a question to you, to the minister of interior and one to the defense.


MODERATOR:  No, just one question.


Q:  After a few days Iraq will have sovereignty.  The Iraqis are very concerned about the suicide operations that have been carried out.  The Ministry of Interior is responsible for that.  What can they do?  What can you do to reassure the Iraqi people in order to stop these beastly attacks?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  In fact, it's not an easy operation.  At this early stage, as the police, the structure of the police, we have commenced to revisit various objectives and aims in dealing with this problem, and we expect there will be more attacks.  We are trying our best to develop the police forces, and improve their structure.  There is a very important point.  The police on their own cannot do anything without the participation of the people.  There are many Iraqis who know about these operations, and we urge them to inform us of this in order to be able to do deal with it. It is the responsibility of every Iraqi to cooperate with us in order to remove these kinds of myths.  From the beginning, in order to reorganize the police and to prepare them, we have started in a very short period of time major steps. We have overcome many obstacles, and hopefully in the near future you will see evidence of that and that the Iraqi people will be pleased with our progress.  But without that you cannot expect the police to do it on their own.  There are organized grounds and organized crimes that have been developing themselves over a long period of time.  If you like, their primary stage is over.  Now we are in the next stage, and we feel confident that from your colleagues, my colleagues here, that they will be at the front line in this war.


Q:  Jordanian Press.  Interior minister, it's about the visa.  The visas, what are the visas to be issued for foreigners, and does that include the neighboring countries?  He says it seems to be the Arabs in the airport are discriminated against.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  From now on we are prepared to issue visas, one.  Two, they will be able to get it on the border as well, visas.  Of course we do not wish to discriminate anyone, but we have an emergency situation.  We are not trying to prevent anyone from coming.  Quite on the contrary, we welcome people from the neighboring countries in order to help us.  But there are many steps that are being taken that will be announced to facilitate this problem.  But we are facing terrorists that are coming from the neighboring countries, so obviously we are more strict in dealing with people who are arriving that way, or from these countries.  This is hundreds of thousands of people who enter from various countries that have caused the problems that we are facing, and we will try to help neighboring countries with facilities in this respect.


Q:  Herat (ph) newspaper.  A defense minister question.   What you call on terrorists -- do you expect in the next few days there will be some military operation to be carried out against limited or specified objectives?


INTERPRETER:  He says the question is for the interior or defense.  In fact, he says he doesn't mind who answers.  The minister of defense is going to answer.


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  Thank you, my friend.  I said it's a duel.  It is indeed a duel.  As far as the Defense Ministry is concerned, we will be the back-up to the Ministry of Interior and their forces, and we will -- we bear a great responsibility relating to these attacks, and we have new objectives in dealing -- in cooperating with the minister of interior.  We have plans in this respect in order to stop these destructions. We will certainly go through this duel against the criminals, which will be the joint responsibility of these two ministries.


Q:  Al Arabiya.  Mr. al-Sadr has asked people to surrender their arms.  Would you use them to protect public buildings?


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  (?) The answer is we will not -- militias, we will not deal with anyone who has arms.  We will not deal with specific militia or take responsibility of one area.  They are welcome as individuals who want to protect themselves within the government's institutions, not -- without any doubt they will not be given the chance to act arbitrarily.  We have an army that represents the whole of Iraq.  We have police that represent all Iraqis. We do not discriminate against tribes, ethnicity or religions in any of these institutions, in accordance with the instructions of the government as a whole.


Q:  Zana Murad (ph), German Television.  There were many attacks, specifically in five cities.  Although the means of carrying them out was different, but do you think there was coordination?  Is there one party that is really controlling all these different events?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  According to me there are several if you like sites that are carrying out these activities.  It's not always the same organization that is doing it.  But the nature of the work and the way they're developing does indicate that maybe one or more sides that are doing this.


Q:  Asaman (ph) Newspaper.  I noticed lately there's a different way that the Iraqi police are dealing with the problems.  Is there a problem in that in how to deal with a specific kind of attack?


Secondly, we have some police that will be punished because they are arbitrarily behaving.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  Let me explain it to you in detail.   First, the Iraqi people during the last 14 months it was gathered in a very speedy matter, and because of that there have been many defects.  Then of course, partly because of economic reasons, some of them didn't -- really did have no desire -- nor did they have the capability of joining the police, but they did so for economic reasons.  Despite that, those who volunteered who now feel they want to do something else, we will also adequately award them if they wish not to stay in the police, or if they  are not capable of being in the police.


Q:  Iraqi Television.  Is there a plan to protect the police stations generally?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  (?) Firstly, the plan is we have -- there were many defects in the organization of the police.  But we have already plugged many holes.  There are many officers, previous officers, in the army or the police, who are now beginning to be recruited and they are professionals and they've had no direct dealing with the previous regime in terms of crimes or killings.  And we do depend on Iraqi expertise which is available.  And we do use former senior officers in a consultancy role, even in Baghdad.  Each area has to be looked at differently and treated in a local manner.  We hope in the near future you will see some development in this matter.


Q:  Korea -- sorry, Italian.  At which point will we be ready to face terrorist attacks without the American troops?  We saw yesterday in Mosul, in Baqubah and others places the Americans intervene on the ground to help your forces to fight against the fighters.  When?  At what point will you be able to do it alone?  Thank you.


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  For the coalition forces, we commence to deliver the responsibility to the official Iraqi position gradually, up to the 31st of July.  But practical, in practice, the Iraqi forces has already started during the last few days.  The provident view is that the Iraqi forces will not be able to control the situation.  We say the Iraqi forces has already received the initiative in this matter.  And when the minister of interior asks us to interfere in any particular operation, we will take the necessary steps and measures in coordination with the Ministry of Interior.


We have started.  But with coordination we hope it will be effective.


Q:  I have a question.   We are in full control.  There is a leadership for the security situation.  There is the prime minister and there is the minister of interior and there is the minister of defense.  This is a united command and its steps are coordinated.  In the last few days we are developing this joint work, and that's how it will be developed.  There is direct control by this leadership and command, which is the prime minister, minister of interior and defense.  In the last year many Iraqis and Arabs were arrested by Americans, and they were interrogated by the American intelligence, CIA and CPA.  Do you have any idea as to what has happened, and why  we haven't had any results from these interrogations?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  Well, the fact is it is more than one subject you're covering.   We are currently studying this matter.  There are -- we know it is a fact there are people who have been arrested who have previous convictions.  So we are reviewing the entire situation.  There are people who have been arrested not related to a particular crime.   And there may be some innocent people.  And this is what we are working on.  In fact, there's more than one subject.  It's a very complicated matter.  Some of these people who carry out activities have previous convictions, so of course that had to be looked at differently.


There is a committee with the Ministry of Justice that is involved in this.  But in the first place it is the Ministry of Justice who are really looking at it in detail.


Q:  (Question in English.) Stephen -- (inaudible) -- London Times.  Who do you hold responsible for the organizational defects, the holes, and the recruitment of unsuitable people that you talk about?  Is it the coalition?


MODERATOR:  Would you please repeat your question, please?


Q:  Do you blame the coalition for the organizational defects, the holes in the structure of your organizations and the unsuitable people who were recruited, the things you have mentioned earlier on?


MODERATOR:  (?) That's a question totally to the minister of interior.  That's our duty to revise the quality of the police that have been employed lately, in the last 14 months, and that's purely to the Ministry of Interior.


Two questions.  Here?


Q:  I just wanted to ask you, Mr. Interior Minister, if I could, what role do you envision for Iraq's young new intelligence services in helping combat this wave of terrorism?  If you could just detail it, thank you.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  They're doing very well.  They're working very well, and people are -- we are coordinating very close with our intelligence service, and hopefully it will come --  I mean, already actually we have been cooperating in many areas which has got very positive results.


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  (?) Some people say there are people from these criminals inside the administration.  The truth is -- look, in any country in the world you may have some people inside the administration.  But we cannot really arbitrarily say this is the case.   We are -- we work closely with various agencies.  I want to clarify that especially in respect of the satellite Arabic and Iraqi stations, because there are rumors -- 90  percent of them are not true.  So let's take a balanced picture.  The real reason for these rumors are just to really cause -- divide the people in Iraq and prevent their progress.   I hope that the Iraqi -- and regretfully and the Arab satellites -- they should look at the positive picture of Iraq.  If there is one case of gang stealing, then it is suddenly shown as resistance.  Someone dies, which is sometimes on a private basis -- somehow it's called resistance.  So  Iraq -- Iraq has paid a heavy price with its sacrifice with the war against the Iran, the Iraqis.  As many Iraqis were tortured by Saddam and the previous regime -- hundreds of thousands.  His war -- the war with Kuwait caused many casualties.  And there is the economic sanctions.  When the non-Iraqis were with Saddam to help them against Iraq, the poor Iraqi people suffered.  Also when he went to Kuwait, it's the poor Iraqis who had suffered.


Now it's the same:  it's the poor Iraqis who always suffer.  So I don't know why -- what we have done to any neighboring countries, Iraqi, Arab or otherwise -- why is it always the poor Iraqis are targeted?  It's tortured for 35 years -- arrests, torture, and then it's the supposed to, these Arabic countries and neighboring countries, are supposed to stand with the Iraqi people.  This is no -- Saddam Hussein just really made everyone suffer.  But the Iraqis stood with the Arab people and the Islamic people in the past.  Let's hope they will reciprocate by helping the Iraqi people during this period.


Q:  Have you reached an agreement about the people in prison with the Americans?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  Yes, we have.  After the 1st of July all these detainees will be under the Iraqi government control.  It's not going to be under the allied administration.


INTERPRETER:  This is to the defense minister.  The Kurdistan military command -- send our condolences.  It wasn't a question -- just a commentary.  He said without a doubt -- you know our feeling about all this.  Of course we are all very upset.  So of course we have capability to make sure the victims will no longer suffer.  We are determined to take all the rights that anybody  has been abused of, or people who have died.  We will try and give them their rights.  He says is the Peshmurga participation acceptable. He says, Yes, without a doubt -- they are part of Iraq, and they are part of the national guard.


He said the Kurdish leader is determined to cooperate and to secure the place in Kurdistan, and we hope that the rest of Iraq will be the same as Kurdistan.


Q:  You say there's a major duel.  That means weapons. Do you have light weapons?  Has the Defense Ministry got medium or heavy?


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  We have light -- medium and heavy equipment, and this is very clear.


Q:  (Off mike) -- Times.   Just a quick question.  Many of the Assyrians, as well as some of the (other minorities ?) are quite concerned about the current situation and the future.  Could you give them assurance that in the future they will be treated exactly the same, and they have a future in Iraq along with everybody?


MIN. AL-NAKIB (?):  Who are living here, the Syrian who is living here?


Q:  Assyrians and other minorities.  That they will be equally protected and they have a future in Iraq?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  This is the place.  They have rights the same as any citizen.  And from the Assyrians, who were the beginning of the history of Iraq, so if you like an integral part of Iraq.


Q:  There are some specific areas that are terrorist areas.  Can you specify them?  And the second question is to the minister of interior:  According to the Geneva Convention that once occupation expires detainees should be released and then were arrested by the new government.  So how are you dealing with that?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  We are starting this now, sir.  We are starting a record of each of the detainees, and we will obviously deal with it in a legal manner.  So if they were accused with a specific crime the Iraqi courts will deal with it.


Q:  How about my first question about specified areas with problems?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  We have no specific areas or non-critical areas.  If there is criticism, wherever it is we will deal with it.  So there is no specific area.  But there are some organized criminals which we have red lights.  We don't want to call them crisis areas, because the poor people who live there will suffer.  There are organized crimes that have come from overseas, and there are some gangsters, local gangsters.  And local people do inform us about this.  It's not specific areas.  It is these gangsters.


Q:  These areas, you call them as critical areas or crisis areas.  No, but they are using them as refuge for these gangsters or criminals.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  But we'll deal with them.


Q:  This is no longer a question for the interior minister, but now defense.  The prime minister talks about the state of emergency.  What happened yesterday there were problems in  six different areas, provinces, and some of these people controlled many areas.  As the prime minister said, there is a state of emergency that will be imposed in any area?

MIN. SHA'ALAN:  It depends on the degree of danger in any particular area.  That's what the prime minister said.  We will follow it that way.


Q:  Is there an agreement between the Ministry of Defense and NATO about NATO supplying the Ministry of Defense with any equipment or training?


MIN.  SHA'ALAN:  The answer is no.


Q:  New York Times -- (off mike) -- (in English) -- capacity to enforce the law, do you need aid from the Americans?


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  The fact is that we have certain criteria, in accordance with the Iraqi law, and there are no infringements of the law, absolutely no infringements of the law in terms of if there is a state of emergency.  So we are well prepared for that, especially in these operations.  And the minister of justice will accompany us, if you like, with the minister of interior, and we will coordinate these matters to ensure that we will comply fully with the law.  There is no way in order to break the law when there is a state of emergency.


Q:   (Off mike) -- state of emergency?


MIN. SHA'ALAN:  Yes, without a doubt we can deal with these matters.


Q:  (Off mike) -- will the state of emergency be declared nationwide, or will it be only in specific areas?   And, if so, what are those areas?   If you also could just elaborate on how you envision security to be enforced in ways different from that -- than the Americans have done over the past 15 months?  Thank you.


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  As far as that is concerned, the Army will be the main protector behind the police.  There is a -- we have an urgent plan for Baghdad, also state of emergency for other provinces.  And it's joint.  As we said, it's joint action between us.


Q:  (Question in English.)  BBC.  Could you give us some details of what you will do in the state of emergency?  Will there be curfews?  Detentions?  And do you think you have the wide support of the Iraqi people to enforce harsh measures  like these, like capital punishment?


MIN. AL-NAKIB:  We have not taken any decision on declaring a state of emergency.  Of course we'll inform everybody.  So it might be a limited areas, it might cover more than one or more area.  It depends, yes, on the state of emergency that we may decide upon. The decision -- but it will be the joint command, God willing.


With reference to what the people thought about us declaring a state of emergency, it's the people who want stronger measures in Iraq in order to -- but we are just considering it.  We have come to build democracy, and building democracy requires patience.  But when they kill people, innocent people on the street, we have a command -- have to have patience also, and we will -- in due course we will announce any measures we will take in the interests of all the people.


Thank you very much for coming.  We hope you have learned something about the Iraq security.  We can't of course tell you all the details of what we're doing.



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