US embassy cable - 90BAGHDAD4237 (original version)

SADDAM'S MESSAGE OF FRIENDSHIP TO PRESIDENT BUSH (original version)

Identifier: 90BAGHDAD4237
Wikileaks: View 90BAGHDAD4237 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1990-07-25 12:46:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: MOPS PREL US KU IZ
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
O 251246Z JUL 90
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4627
INFO AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY KUWAIT IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE
ARABLEAGUE COLLECTIVE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 BAGHDAD 04237 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS: MOPS, PREL, US, KU, IZ 
SUBJECT: SADDAM'S MESSAGE OF FRIENDSHIP TO PRESIDENT BUSH 
 
1. SECRET - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2. SUMMARY: SADDAM TOLD THE AMBASSADOR JULY 25 
THAT MUBARAK HAS ARRANGED FOR KUWAITI AND IRAQI 
DELEGATIONS TO MEET IN RIYADH, AND THEN ON 
JULY 28, 29 OR 30, THE KUWAITI CROWN PRINCE WILL 
COME TO BAGHDAD FOR SERIOUS NEGOTIATIONS. "NOTHING 
WILL HAPPEN" BEFORE THEN, SADDAM HAD PROMISED 
MUBARAK. 
 
--SADDAM WISHED TO CONVEY AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO 
PRESIDENT BUSH: IRAQ WANTS FRIENDSHIP, BUT DOES 
THE USG? IRAQ SUFFERED 100,000'S OF CASUALTIES 
AND IS NOW SO POOR THAT WAR ORPHAN PENSIONS WILL 
SOON BE CUT; YET RICH KUWAIT WILL NOT EVEN ACCEPT 
OPEC DISCIPLINE. IRAQ IS SICK OF WAR, BUT KUWAIT 
HAS IGNORED DIPLOMACY. USG MANEUVERS WITH THE UAE 
WILL ENCOURAGE THE UAE AND KUWAIT TO IGNORE 
CONVENTIONAL DIPLOMACY. IF IRAQ IS PUBLICLY 
HUMILIATED BY THE USG, IT WILL HAVE NO CHOICE 
BUT TO "RESPOND," HOWEVER ILLOGICAL AND SELF 
DESTRUCTIVE THAT WOULD PROVE. 
 
--ALTHOUGH NOT QUITE EXPLICIT, SADDAM'S MESSAGE 
TO US SEEMED TO BE THAT HE WILL MAKE A MAJOR PUSH 
TO COOPERATE WITH MUBARAK'S DIPLOMACY, BUT WE MUST 
TRY TO UNDERSTAND KUWAITI/UAE "SELFISHNESS" IS 
UNBEARABLE. AMBASSADOR MADE CLEAR THAT WE CAN 
NEVER EXCUSE SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES BY OTHER THAN 
PEACEFUL MEANS. END SUMMARY. 
 
3. AMBASSADOR WAS SUMMONED BY PRESIDENT 
SADDAM HUSAYN AT NOON JULY 25. ALSO PRESENT 
WERE FONMIN AZIZ, THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE 
DIRECTOR, TWO NOTETAKERS, AND THE IRAQI 
INTERPRETER. 
 
4. SADDAM, WHOSE MANNER WAS CORDIAL, 
REASONABLE AND EVEN WARM THROUGHOUT THE ENSUING 
TWO HOURS, SAID HE WISHED THE AMBASSADOR TO 
CONVEY A MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT BUSH. SADDAM 
THEN RECALLED IN DETAIL THE HISTORY OF IRAQ'S 
DECISION TO REESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS 
AND ITS POSTPONING IMPLEMENTATION OF THAT 
DECISION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR, RATHER THAN BE 
THOUGHT WEAK AND NEEDY. HE THEN SPOKE ABOUT THE 
MANY "BLOWS" OUR RELATIONS HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO 
SINCE 1984, CHIEF AMONG THEM IRANGATE. IT WAS 
AFTER THE FAW VICTORY, SADDAM SAID, THAT IRAQI 
MISAPPREHENSIONS ABOUT USG PURPOSES BEGAN TO 
SURFACE AGAIN, I.E., SUSPICIONS THAT THE U.S. WAS 
NOT HAPPY TO SEE THE WAR END. 
 
5. PICKING HIS WORDS WITH CARE, SADDAM SAID 
THAT THERE ARE "SOME CIRCLES" IN THE USG, 
INCLUDING IN CIA AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT, 
BUT EMPHATICALLY EXCLUDING THE PRESIDENT AND 
SECRETARY BAKER, WHO ARE NOT FRIENDLY TOWARD 
IRAQ-U.S. RELATIONS. HE THEN LISTED WHAT HE 
SEEMED TO REGARD AS FACTS TO SUPPORT THIS 
CONCLUSION: "SOME CIRCLES ARE GATHERING 
INFORMATION ON WHO MIGHT BE SADDAM HUSAYN'S 
SUCCESSOR;" THEY KEPT UP CONTACTS IN THE GULF 
WARNING AGAINST IRAQ; THEY WORKED TO ENSURE 
NO HELP WOULD GO TO IRAQ (READ EXIM AND CCC). 
 
6. IRAQ, THE PRESIDENT STRESSED, IS IN SERIOUS 
FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES, WITH 40 BILLION USD DEBTS. 
IRAQ, WHOSE VICTORY IN THE WAR AGAINST IRAN 
MADE AN HISTORIC DIFFERENCE TO THE ARAB WORLD 
AND THE WEST, NEEDS A MARSHALL PLAN. BUT "YOU 
WANT THE OIL PRICE DOWN," SADDAM CHARGED. 
 
7. RESUMING HIS LIST OF GRIEVANCES WHICH HE 
BELIEVED WERE ALL INSPIRED BY 
"SOME CIRCLES" IN THE USG, HE RECALLED THE 
"USIA CAMPAIGN" AGAINST HIMSELF, AND THE 
GENERAL MEDIA ASSAULT ON IRAQ AND ITS PRESIDENT. 
 
8. DESPITE ALL THESE BLOWS, SADDAM SAID, AND 
ALTHOUGH "WE WERE SOMEWHAT ANNOYED," WE STILL 
HOPED THAT WE COULD DEVELOP A GOOD RELATIONSHIP. 
BUT THOSE WHO FORCE OIL PRICES DOWN ARE ENGAGING 
IN ECONOMIC WARFARE AND IRAQ CANNOT ACCEPT SUCH 
A TRESPASS ON ITS DIGNITY AND PROSPERITY. 
 
9. THE SPEARHEADS (FOR THE USG) HAVE BEEN KUWAIT 
AND THE UAE, SADDAM SAID. SADDAM SAID CAREFULLY 
THAT JUST AS IRAQ WILL NOT THREATEN OTHERS, IT 
WILL ACCEPT NO THREAT AGAINST ITSELF. "WE HOPE 
THE USG WILL NOT MISUNDERSTAND:" IRAQ ACCEPTS, 
AS THE STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN SAID, THAT ANY 
COUNTRY MAY CHOOSE ITS FRIENDS. BUT THE USG KNOWS 
THAT IT WAS IRAQ, NOT THE USG, WHICH DECISIVELY 
PROTECTED THOSE USG FRIENDS DURING THE WAR--AND THAT 
IS UNDERSTANDABLE SINCE PUBLIC OPINION IN THE USG, 
TO SAY NOTHING OF GEOGRAPHY, WOULD HAVE MADE IT 
IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE AMERICANS TO ACCEPT 10,000 DEAD 
IN A SINGLE BATTLE, AS IRAQ DID. 
 
10. SADDAM ASKED WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE USG 
TO ANNOUNCE IT IS COMMITTED TO THE DEFENSE OF 
ITS FRIENDS, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY. 
ANSWERING HIS OWN QUESTION, HE SAID THAT TO IRAQ 
IT MEANS FLAGRANT BIAS AGAINST THE GOI. 
 
11. COMING TO ONE OF HIS MAIN POINTS, SADDAM 
ARGUED THAT USG MANEUVERS WITH THE UAE AND KUWAIT (SIC) 
ENCOURAGED THEM IN THEIR UNGENEROUS POLICIES. THE 
IRAQI RIGHTS, SADDAM EMPHASIZED, WILL BE RESTORED 
ONE BY ONE, THOUGH IT MAY TAKE A MONTH OR MUCH 
MORE THAN A YEAR. IRAQ HOPES THE USG WILL BE 
IN HARMONY WITH ALL THE PARTIES TO THIS DISPUTE. 
 
12. SADDAM SAID HE UNDERSTANDS THAT THE USG IS 
DETERMINED TO KEEP THE OIL FLOWING AND TO 
MAINTAIN ITS FRIENDSHIPS IN THE GULF. WHAT HE 
CANNOT UNDERSTAND IS WHY WE ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO 
ARE DAMAGING IRAQ, WHICH IS WHAT OUR GULF MANEUVERS 
WILL DO. 
 
13. SADDAM SAID HE FULLY BELIEVES THE USG WANTS 
PEACE, AND THAT IS GOOD. BUT DO NOT, HE ASKED, 
USE METHODS WHICH YOU SAY YOU DO NOT LIKE, 
METHODS LIKE ARM-TWISTING- 
 
14. AT THIS POINT SADDAM SPOKE AT LENGTH ABOUT 
PRIDE OF IRAQIS, WHO BELIEVE IN "LIBERTY OR DEATH." 
IRAQ WILL HAVE TO RESPOND IF THE U.S. USES THESE 
METHODS. IRAQ KNOWS THE USG CAN SEND PLANES AND 
ROCKETS AND HURT IRAQ DEEPLY. SADDAM ASKS THAT 
THE USG NOT FORCE IRAQ TO THE POINT OF HUMILIATION 
AT WHICH LOGIC MUST BE DISREGARDED. IRAQ DOES NOT 
CONSIDER THE U.S. AN ENEMY AND HAS TRIED TO BE 
FRIENDS. 
 
15. AS FOR THE INTRA-ARAB DISPUTES, SADDAM SAID 
HE IS NOT ASKING THE USG TO TAKE UP ANY PARTICULAR 
ROLE SINCE THE SOLUTIONS MUST COME THROUGH ARAB 
AND BILATERAL DIPLOMACY. 
 
16. RETURNING TO HIS THEME THAT IRAQ WANTS 
DIGNITY AND FREEDOM AS WELL AS FRIENDSHIP WITH THE 
U.S., HE CHARGED THAT IN THE LAST YEAR THERE WERE 
MANY OFFICIAL STATEMENTS WHICH MADE IT SEEM THAT 
THE U.S. DOES NOT WANT TO RECIPROCATE. HOW, FOR 
EXAMPLE, SADDAM ASKED,CAN WE INTERPRET THE 
INVITATION FOR ARENS TO VISIT AT A TIME OF CRISIS 
IN THE GULF? WHY DID THE U.S- DEFENSE MINISTER 
MAKE "INFLAMMATORY" STATEMENTS? 
 
17. SADDAM SAID THAT THE IRAQIS KNOW WHAT 
WAR IS, WANT NO MORE OF IT--"DO NOT PUSH US TO IT; 
DO NOT MAKE IT THE ONLY OPTION LEFT WITH WHICH WE 
CAN PROTECT OUR DIGNITY." 
 
18. PRESIDENT BUSH, SADDAM SAID, HAS MADE NO MISTAKE 
IN HIS PRESIDENCY VIS-A-VIS THE ARABS. THE DECISION 
ON THE PLO DIALOGUE WAS "MISTAKEN," BUT IT WAS 
TAKEN UNDER "ZIONIST PRESSURE" AND, SADDAM SAID, IS 
PERHAPS A CLEVER TACTIC TO ABSORB THAT PRESSURE. 
 
19. AFTER A SHORT DIVERSION ON THE NEED FOR THE 
U.S. TO CONSIDER THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF 200,000 
ARABS WITH THE SAME VIGOR AND INTEREST AS THE HUMAN 
RIGHTS OF THE ISRAELIS, SADDAM CONCLUDED BY 
RESTATING THAT IRAQ WANTS AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP 
"ALTHOUGH WE WILL NOT PANT FOR IT, WE WILL DO OUR 
PART AS FRIENDS." 
 
20. SADDAM THEN OFFERED AN ANECDOTE TO ILLUSTRATE 
HIS POINT. HE HAD TOLD THE IRAQI KURDISH LEADER 
IN 1974 THAT HE WAS PREPARED TO GIVE UP HALF OF 
THE SHATT AL-ARAB TO IRAN TO OBTAIN ALL OF A 
PROSPEROUS IRAQ. THE KURD HAD BET THAT SADDAM WOULD 
NOT GIVE HALF THE SHATT--THE KURD WAS WRONG. EVEN 
NOW, THE ONLY REAL ISSUE WITH IRAN IS THE SHATT, AND 
IF GIVING AWAY HALF OF THE WATERWAY IS THE ONLY 
THING STANDING BETWEEN THE CURRENT SITUATION AND 
IRAQI PROSPERITY, SADDAM SAID HE WOULD BE GUIDED 
BY WHAT HE DID IN 1974. 
 
21. THE AMBASSADOR THANKED SADDAM FOR THE 
OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS DIRECTLY WITH HIM SOME OF 
HIS AND OUR CONCERNS. PRESIDENT BUSH, TOO, WANTS 
FRIENDSHIP, AS HE HAD WRITTEN AT THE 'ID AND ON 
THE OCCASION OF IRAQ'S NATIONAL DAY. SADDAM 
INTERRUPTED TO SAY HE HAD BEEN TOUCHED BY THOSE 
 
22. AMBASSADOR RESUMED HER THEME, RECALLING THAT 
THE PRESIDENT HAD INSTRUCTED HER TO BROADEN AND 
DEEPEN OUR RELATIONS WITH IRAQ. SADDAM HAD REFERRED 
TO "SOME CIRCLES" ANTIPATHETIC TO THAT AIM. SUCH 
CIRCLES CERTAINLY EXISTED, BUT THE U.S. ADMINISTRATION 
IS INSTRUCTED BY THE PRESIDENT. ON THE OTHER HAND, 
THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT CONTROL THE AMERICAN PRESS; 
IF HE DID, CRITICISM OF THE ADMINISTRATION WOULD NOT 
EXIST. SADDAM AGAIN INTERRUPTED TO SAY HE UNDERSTOOD 
THAT. THE AMBASSADOR SAID SHE HAD SEEN THE DIANE 
SAWYER SHOW AND THOUGHT THAT IT WAS CHEP AND UNFAIR. 
BUT THE AMERICAN PRESS TREATS ALL POLITICIANS 
WITHOUT KID GLOVES--THAT IS OUR WAY. 
 
23. WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS 
VERY RECENTLY REAFFIRMED HIS DESIRE FOR A BETTER 
RELATIONSHIP AND HAS PROVEN THAT BY, FOR EXAMPLE, 
OPPOSING SANCTIONS BILLS. HERE SADDAM INTERRUPTED 
AGAIN. LAUGHING, HE SAID THERE IS NOTHING LEFT 
FOR IRAQ TO BUY IN THE U.S. EVERYTHING IS 
PROHIBITED EXCEPT FOR WHEAT, AND NO DOUBT THAT WILL 
SOON BE DECLARED A DUAL-USE ITEM- SADDAM SAID, HOWEVER, 
HE HAD DECIDED NOT TO RAISE THIS ISSUE, BUT RATHER 
CONCENTRATE ON THE FAR MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES AT HAND. 
 
24. AMBASSADOR SAID THERE WERE MANY ISSUES HE 
HAD RAISED SHE WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON, BUT 
SHE WISHED TO USE HER LIMITED TIME WITH THE 
PRESIDENT TO STRESS FIRST PRESIDENT BUSH'S DESIRE 
FOR FRIENDSHIP AND, SECOND, HIS STRONG DESIRE, SHARED 
WE ASSUME BY IRAQ, FOR PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE MID 
EAST. IS IT NOT REASONABLE FOR US TO BE CONCERNED 
WHEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE FOREIGN MINISTER BOTH 
SAY PUBLICLY THAT KUWAITI ACTIONS ARE THE 
EQUIVALENT OF MILITARY AGGRESSION, AND THEN WE 
LEARN THAT MANY UNITS OF THE REPUBLICAN GUARD 
HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE BORDER? IS IT NOT REASONABLE 
FOR US TO ASK, IN THE SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP, NOT 
CONFRONTATION, THE SIMPLE QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR 
INTENTIONS? 
 
25. SADDAM SAID THAT WAS INDEED A REASONABLE 
QUESTION. HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT WE SHOULD BE 
CONCERNED FOR REGIONAL PEACE, IN FACT IT IS OUR 
DUTY AS A SUPERPOWER. "BUT HOW CAN WE MAKE THEM 
(KUWAIT AND UAE) UNDERSTAND HOW DEEPLY WE ARE 
SUFFERING." THE FINANCIAL SITUATION IS SUCH THAT 
THE PENSIONS FOR WIDOWS AND ORPHANS WILL HAVE 
TO BE CUT. AT THIS POINT, THE INTERPRETER AND 
ONE OF THE NOTETAKERS BROKE DOWN AND WEPT. 
 
26. AFTER A PAUSE FOR RECUPERATION, SADDAM SAID, 
IN EFFECT, BELIEVE ME I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING: WE 
SENT ENVOYS, WROTE MESSAGES, ASKED FAHD TO 
ARRANGE QUADRAPARTITE SUMMIT (IRAQ, SAG, UE, 
KUWAIT). FAHD SUGGESTFD OIL MINISTERS INSTEAD AND 
WE AGREED TO THE JEDDAH AGREEMENT ALTHOUGH IT WAS 
WELL BELOW OUR HOPES. THEN, SADDAM CONTINUED, 
TWO DAYS LATER THE KUWAITI OIL MINISTER ANNOUNCED 
HE WOULD WANT TO ANNUL THAT AGREEMENT WITHIN TWO 
MONTHS. AS FOR THE UAE, SADDAM SAID, I BEGGED 
SHAYKH ZAYID TO UNDERSTAND OUR PROBLEMS (WHEN 
SADDAM ENTERTAINED HIM IN MOSUL AFTER THE BAGHDAD 
SUMMIT), AND ZAYID SAID JUST WAIT UNTIL I GET 
BACK TO ABU DHABI. BUT THEN HIS MINISTER OF OIL 
MADE "BAD STATEMENTS." 
 
27. AT THIS POINT, SADDAM LEFT THE ROOM TO TAKE 
AN URGENT CALL FROM MUBARAK. AFTER HIS RETURN, 
THE AMBASSADOR ASKED IF HE COULD TELL HER IF 
THERE HAS ANY PROGRESS IN FINDING A PEACEFUL WAY 
TO DEFUSE THE DISPUTE. THIS WAS SOMETHING PRESIDENT 
BUSH WOULD BE KEENLY INTERESTED TO KNOW. SADDAM 
SAID THAT HE HAD JUST LEARNED FROM MUBARAK THE 
KUWAITIS HAVE AGREED TO NEGOTIATE. THE KUWAITI 
CROWN PRINCE/PRIME MINISTER WOULD MEET IN RIYADH 
WITH SADDAM'S NUMBER TWO, IZZAT IBRAHIM, AND THEN 
THE KUWAITI WOULD COME TO BAGHDAD ON SATURDAY, 
SUNDAY OR, AT THE LATEST, MONDAY, JULY 30. 
 
28. "I TOLD MUBARAK," SADDAM SAID, THAT "NOTHING 
WILL HAPPEN UNTIL THE MEETING," AND NOTHING WILL 
HAPPEN DURING OR AFTER THE MEETING IF THE KUWAITIS 
WILL AT LAST "GIVE US SOME HOPE." 
 
29. THE AMBASSADOR SAID SHE WAS DELIGHTED TO HEAR 
THIS GOOD NEWS. SADDAM THEN ASKED HER TO CONVEY 
HIS WARM GREETINGS TO PRESIDENT BUSH AND TO 
CONVEY HIS MESSAGE TO HIM. 
 
30. NOTE: ON THE BORDER QUESTION, SADDAM REFERRED 
TO THE 1961 AGREEMENT AND A "LINE OF PATROL" IT 
HAD ESTABLISHED. THE KUWAITIS, HE SAID, HAD TOLD 
MUBARAK IRAQ WAS 20 KILOMETERS "IN FRONT" OF THIS 
LINE. THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SHE HAD SERVED IN 
KUWAIT 20 YEARS BEFORE; THEN, AS NOW, WE TOOK NO 
POSITION ON THESE ARAB AFFAIRS. 
 
31. COMMENT: IN THE MEMORY QF THE CURRENT 
DIPLOMATIC CORPS, SADDAM HAS NEVER SUMMONED AN 
AMBASSADOR. HE IS WORRIED. 
 
ACCORDING TO HIS OWN POLITICAL THEORIZING 
(U.S. THE SOLE MAJOR POWER IN THE MIDDLE EAST), 
HE NEEDS AT A MINIMUM A CORRECT RELATIONSHIP 
WITH US FOR OBVIOUS GEOPOLITICAL REASONS, 
ESPECIALLY AS LONG AS HE PERCEIVES MORTAL 
THREATS FROM ISRAEL AND IRAN. AMBASSADOR 
BELIEVES SADDAM SUSPECTS OUR DECISION SUDDENLY 
TO UNDERTAKE MANEUVERS WITH ABU DHABI IS A 
HARBINGER OF A USG DECISION TO TAKE SIDES. 
FURTHER, SADDAM, HIMSELF BEGINNING TO HAVE AN 
INKLING OF HOW MUCH HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ABOUT 
THE U.S., IS APPREHENSIVE THAT WE DO NOT 
UNDERSTAND CERTAIN POLITICAL FACTORS WHICH 
INHIBIT HIM, SUCH AS: 
 
--HE CANNOT ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE PERCEIVED AS 
CAVING IN TO SUPERPOWER BULLYING (AS U/S HAMDUN 
FRANKLY WARNED US IN LATE 1988); 
 
--IRAQ, WHICH LOST 100,000'S OF CASUALTIES, IS 
SUFFERING AND KUWAIT IS "MISERLY" AND "SELFISH." 
 
32. IT WAS PROGRESS TO HAVE SADDAM ADMIT 
THAT THE USG HAS A "RESPONSIBILITY" IN THE 
REGION, AND HAS EVERY RIGHT TO EXPECT AN 
ANSWER WHEN WE ASK IRAQ'S INTENTIONS. HIS 
RESPONSE IN EFFECT THAT HE TRIED VARIOUS 
DIPLOMATIC/CHANNELS BEFORE RESORTING TO 
UNADULTERATED INTIMIDATION HAS AT LEAST THE 
VIRTUE OF FRANKNESS. HIS EMPHASIS THAT HE 
WANTS PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT IS SURELY SINCERE 
(IRAQIS ARE SICK OF WAR), BUT THE TERMS SOUND 
DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE. SADDAM SEEMS TO WANT 
PLEDGES NOW ON OIL PRICES AND PRODUCTION TO 
COVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS. 
 
 
GLASPIE 

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