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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
COUNTDOWN TO HANDOVER: "Arab Pulse"
Aired June 21, 2004 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, CNN MODERATOR: The world counts down to the handover of sovereignty in Iraq and asks this question, what really will it change? There's a new interim government with a stamp of approval from the United Nations but the violence that before took aim at U.S. and coalition troops now takes aim at members of that new interim government. But by far, the highest casualties continue to be suffered by innocent Iraqi civilians.
There isn't much that people may agree upon about this situation but one point, it's likely to get a lot worse before it gets any better. This week, CNN will gauge Arab, European and American opinion on that question in three very special forums.
We begin in the Middle East, where the U.S. war in Iraq is sharply criticized. Dubai Media City is a center for regional journalists. And it's where we traveled to gauge the Arab pulse on Iraq's future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYAD ALLAWI, IRAQ'S INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: After 35 years of ruthless tyrannical regime and after the liberation of Iraq by the coalition forces, under the leadership of the United States, we are starting now our march towards sovereignty and democracy.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In time, Iraq will be a free and Democratic nation at the heart of the Middle East. This will send a message, a powerful message, from Damascus to Tehran that democracy can bring hope to lives in every culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: A free and Democratic Iraq, that's the promise. The reality is that today Iraq remains a battleground. Caught in the crossfire are 25 million Iraqis. They have endured bombings, sanctions and war. Today they are occupied and today they ask what difference June 30 will make in their lives and the lives of their children?
Hello and welcome. I'm Jim Clancy in Dubai Media City. And we want to welcome you to our program and welcome our panel are distinguished guests. Beginning with Imad Edin Adeeb, Egyptian talk show host of "On The Air." You can see it on the Orbit channel.
Rami Khouri a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist and executive editor of "The Daily Star" in Beirut. Samia Nakhoul, Reuters bureau chief here in Dubai.
Faris Couri, an MBC journalist -- of Iraq origin, we should note.
Shada Omar hosts "The Event," a talk show on the Lebanese Broadcasting Company.
Muhammad Khateer. Very well known here. Is an al-Arabiya journalist and presenter.
And of course (AUDIO GAP) Jamil Azar, one of their journalist.
And also joining us today, we are pleased to have Mohammed al- Douri, the former U.N. ambassador for Iraq. Mr. al-Douri left his post in April of 2003.
Also joining us today, we have a lot of guests here in the studio. Some of them will be participating, making some comments. They'll have their questions of their own. We're going to get to that a little bit later. Thanks for being with us.
Let's get to the first question. Samia Nakhoul, June 30, does it change everything? Does it change anything?
SAMIA NAKHOUL, REUTERS: The only thing it can change, is that it does give hope to the Iraqi people who have suffered so much from the massive invasion, from other wars, from the rule of Saddam, that maybe finally they have an Iraqi government, a transitional government that lets them pave the way to provide them with security , all this talk about freedom and democracy. I don't think the Iraqis, you know, are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) much hope on this. At this stage, they feel it's hollow. What they want is security, and they see that probably security in Iraqi hands is better than having it in U.S. hands.
So there is hope that the Iraqis want to have, you know, some security. And some Iraqis, dealing with their own problems. So we have to wait and see if this government is empowered enough, have enough, you know, independence to take the decisions that are beneficial for Iraqis.
CLANCY: Imad, does it have the authority, you think, to establish that kind of security?
IMAD EDIN ADEEB, ORBIT TV, EGYPT: No, I don't think, because I have to differentiate between handing over and transition of power. To hand over, it might look as if you are transitioning of power. But transition of power is that this Iraqi government have all and the full authority, and have the means and ways to implement security, to have its own national army, to have its own national police, and not look like a puppet government.
CLANCY: Faris, when you look at the situation in your home country, and you ask who will bring the security, there has to be a starting point someplace, doesn't there? This interim government has to pick up enough authority to reestablish the military, the security forces. FARIS COURI, MBC: Yes, it's true. But at the moment it is a symbolic move, by handing over the sovereignty to the Iraqi government.
CLANCY: Isn't it more than symbolic? I mean, isn't this going to lead to an election?
COURI: I can't see that within seven months that the Iraqis, with the little -- the little capabilities they have at the moment, with no proper army and police, can control the situation to an extent by January 2005 to create this fair and fair elections. It's going to be very difficult.
CLANCY: Shada, do you think the U.N. can do it?
SHADA OMAR, LBC: I think probably the U.N. is better than the U.S. in this matter...
CLANCY: But the U.N.'s going to need the U.S., aren't they?
OMAR: They're going to need the U.S., of course, but as long as you have U.S. authority between brackets and they are staying on the ground, fair and transparent elections, I think they are really hard.
CLANCY: Muhammad, you look at this situation. So what is it going to take for this interim government to have authority?
MUHAMMAD KHATEER, AL-ARABIYA: I don't think the June 30 date is any magical cut-off date that you will see the difference between day and night. I think the same problems that exist today will exist after June 30. It will take some time before things stabilize.
It's interesting, talking about the U.N., how the U.S. administration all of a sudden discovered that there has to be a role for the U.N. in Iraq. A year ago, we didn't hear this talk. Now, everybody is talking about having U.N. and having a U.N. role. I think U.N. is needed, but I think it's a little bit too late.
CLANCY: Jamil Azar, anything can happen in politics, and this probably won't. But I want to give you this scenario.
President Bush decides out of the blue that he needs a real Arab adviser on what to do with Iraq. You're asked to be that adviser. And the question of the president to you is, "What can I, as U.S. president, do for Iraq, for this government to really help the government, to really help the people of Iraq?"
What's your advice?
JAMIL AZAR, AL-JAZEERA: Well, I believe the first thing for the U.S. administration to do is to admit that they have made mistakes in Iraq.
And secondly, I would say that let what happened in Fallujah to be the Alamo of the Iraqis, not the Alamo of George Bush. And that would, I think, give the Iraqis a little bit of feeling that they can influence and even direct events in Iraq.
There should be speeding up of building the symbols of sovereignty in Iraq, like the army, like the police force and other symbols of sovereignty.
CLANCY: And the army, not just a symbol of sovereignty, but a real player in the security issue that is of such overwhelming importance to all Iraqis today.
Let's listen to what the prime minister had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IYAD ALLAWI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: These saboteurs are not freedom fighters. They are terrorists and foreign fighters, opposed to our very survival as a free state. Anyone involved in these attacks is nothing more than a traitor to the cause of Iraq's freedom and the freedom of its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Mohammed Al-Douri, who's behind the insurrection that you see in Iraq?
MOHAMMED AL-DOURI, FORMER IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, I have to start with the question of the sovereignty, handover of the sovereignty to Iraqi people. We have no now sovereign state. And after 30 June -- 30 June, we will still be under occupation.
So we have to find a solution for that question, a difficult question, the most difficult question for America. They have to leave the country. This is the only one condition with which we can live in peace and security in our own country.
CLANCY: But Iraq -- are you saying that you think the Iraqi military, that the Iraqi police are ready today for the U.S. and the British to pull out?
AL-DOURI: Well, you know, we are a very big country, we are a civilized country. We have our own...
AL-DOURI: So we can do it. We can handle it. Without Americans, but with the help of United Nations, with the help of Arab countries, I think we can do it very easily.
CLANCY: Rami Khouri, do you agree with that? I think I understand what Mohammed al-Douri is saying. He'd like the U.S. to be out. But if you've been on the ground in Iraq, that's not what the Iraqis are telling me.
RAMI KHOURI, THE DAILY STAR, LEBANON: If you just look next door at Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is now undergoing a rather frightening terrorism campaign by its own -- some of its own citizens. And one of the main reasons that Osama bin Laden and people like that started this process was to criticize the American military presence in Saudi Arabia. The Americans finally got the point and moved to Qatar.
The United States is saying that its military presence is necessary to provide security in Iraq, while in fact the lesson from Saudi Arabia is exactly the opposite. A large American long-term military presence, even on bases far away from the cities, is going to build up tremendous resentment among Iraqis, fuel anti-Americanism around the region and lead to greater insecurity.
So I think the critical point that the Americans must do is give a date when they will completely leave Iraq and trust the Iraqi people, who are wise, experienced and capable, they will find the balance between freedom, security, dignity, identity, stability and prosperity, that they will define, as an Iraqi people themselves. The critical point to get that going is to get the American presence completely out of Iraq in its military form.
ADEEB: The problem which we are facing, and we have to be very transparent and frank about it, is that if American troops left tomorrow, I don't think from a security point of view security will be achieved in Iraq.
It's a very tough question to talk about, but we have to be very realistic. And I think there is a moral obligation of the Americans that the way they have created this case, by dismantling the army and dismantling the police and creating a chaotic situation where nobody can really live now in Iraq, they should not leave before mending it, the security way, and then leave the whole transition of power and the whole power in the hands of a sovereign state and a sovereign government by Iraqis to be running their own selves.
CLANCY: I think that the sentiment that you talk about there, Imad, is echoed by Iraq's own foreign minister. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOSHIYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Any premature departure of international troops would lead to chaos and the real possibility of a civil war in Iraq. This would cause a humanitarian crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in our country and beyond our borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Mohammed al-Douri, that man would be your boss if you still worked at the U.N. today.
AL-DOURI: I'm happy that this is not the case.
But responding to my colleague, Mr. Imad and the minister of foreign affairs of Iraq, I think we have not and we should not find any justification for any presence or American army or other military power in Iraq.
More than one year after the occupation, and we're still suffering from all kinds of crimes committed by those Americans in Iraq. So please, don't find any justification to have those American and other people in Iraq.
We are a mature people and we can handle our future in a good way and a peaceful way.
CLANCY: Shada, there is a debate. I mean, a lot of people say you have to end the occupation.
But even some of the more extreme voices I hear inside the country, some of the people that are unequivocally calling for an end of the occupation, a withdrawal of forces, say, "Not immediately, not until our own military forces that you wrongly disassembled, that you wrongly dismantled are put back together again."
OMAR: Maybe the coalition forces cannot provide this help. Maybe they need multinational forces. And still, the Americans are -- they want the lead for the multinational force.
Maybe this thing can change with time, even if it's in the U.N. resolution. Maybe Iraqis have faith in other countries, maybe that have -- they have to roll this and to change this leadership. Maybe this will give confidence to the Iraqi people and also try to fight these foreign insurgents, because they are being very strong now in Iraq.
CLANCY: Rami Khouri, who do you appeal to? How do you stop this violence? Is there anybody that can do it?
KHOURI: The only group that can do it is the majority of the Iraqi people, through a process of the consent of the governed.
The reality in Iraq is that you had two rather debilitating and violent forces. One was the former Iraqi regime. The second one is the foreign, American, British-led army that came into Iraq. This has spawned a third group, which is the people who are fighting, killing Iraqis and killing foreigners.
The only antidote to this cumulative history of violence and -- and suppression is to implement the rule of law, to give the average Iraqi person a sense that they're being treated fairly and with dignity and with hope.
And it's only the Iraqi majority, the average middle class Iraqis, that will ultimately de-legitimize the kind of terrorism and violence that's taking place in Iraq. And that's what you have to build up, the rule of law and the sense of empowerment of the Iraqi majority.
CLANCY: Faris, I mean this sounds like we're waiting for elections for anything to happen.
COURI: One of the things that -- that invasion did not liberate Iraq from -- from the Ba'ath Party. It liberated the Ba'ath Party from Saddam Hussein.
Now it could -- it could -- now they are trying to adjust to the situation. Bringing back the apparatus of the mechanism of the government and the old army and the police, they can run the country efficiently. And over a period of time. It could not be done within a seven-month period. Probably could take years, to look at this apparatus and examine it. And then you could weed out the bad people and keep the right people.
I don't think a million persons, members of the Ba'ath Party were all bad and you have to get rid of them. It's not possible at all.
CLANCY: Everybody, stay right where you are. We're going to have to take a short break here. But when we come back, we're going to talk with our studio audience, give them a chance to ask some questions of their own.
How long is it going to take? What is it going to take for a real handover of sovereignty and power in Iraq?
CLANCY: Welcome back to Dubai Media City. I'm Jim Clancy. We're taking the ARAB PULSE. We're joined by a panel of distinguished journalists and guests. We're also joined by our studio audience who have some comments and questions of their own. Let's take the first one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Magash Khan (ph), and I'm a freelance journalist based here in Dubai. My comment or question is that one of the main aims of the coalition government, the U.S.-led coalition government, was to bring about security in Iraq, which clearly hasn't happened, with the Iraqi Governing Council being targeted itself.
One of the second aims was to bring about democracy and freedom to a war-torn Iraq. While the current interim government has the stamp of approval of the United Nations, what about the stamp of approval of the Iraqi people? When is that going to happen, and when is that going to matter?
CLANCY: Is that what June 30 is all about, Muhammad?
KHATEER: Let's not forget about the aim of this war. The aim of the war was to find weapons of mass destruction. This so far hasn't been done.
As far as the stamp of approval of the Iraqi people, this current government lacks legitimacy. They know that themselves. I think this will take some time. But you have to start somewhere. There is a vacuum right now in Iraq. You have to start from step one.
I think this is a good step. Hopefully, in the near future, by the end of 2005, we will have some process going on. And I think this is the only hope for the Iraqis. CLANCY: Do you -- maybe this is a time for everyone involved to say mistakes have been made, first and foremost, perhaps among them Washington and the White House. But at the same time, you have to move on from some point. June 30 would seem today to be that point. But I don't know.
What does our audience think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Hani Bhatish, I am a senior reporter with the "Halish Times" (ph). And I feel that the standard bearer of democracy, the United States, has not exactly set a good example for the Iraqi people. And there is a very big lack of trust between the Iraqi people and the United States.
So I wonder why right now, there is talk of bringing in the U.N., whereas that should have happened a long time ago.
CLANCY: Isn't that -- doesn't that go back to the mistakes that have been made? Yes, mistakes have been made. We all see that. I think there's -- if there's anything that people agree on in this panel, it is that very issue.
But the point is, where do you go from here? This is the question Iraqis want to know. When am I going to get security? How am I going to get it?
KHOURI: You must quickly give the Iraqis the opportunity to develop the means of their own security. It's going to be an insecure and violent country for a long time, probably. But the Iraqis will ultimately take control and -- and provide the security and a normal life.
The flip side to that is that most of the people in this region also want to de-legitimize the process of regime change, which the Americans and the British led. That these precedents that were set by the British and the Americans must be de-legitimized forever.
And you do that through a dual process of resisting what the Americans and the British have done, bringing up the role of the U.N. regional international legitimacy, empowering the Iraqis.
Those two things have to happen together, because we don't want to sit here 30 years from now and go through this again, just as our grandparents had to go through the British in Basra, 80 or 90 years ago, and the British are back in Basra, still doing the same thing, still leading to violence and failed states.
ADEEB: I have a question. What happens if next October, because we are all talking about the Iraqi elections. But what happens if the American elections came with a result with a president, whoever, Democratic or Republican, who felt that he should withdraw his troops immediately and swiftly by Christmas from Iraq?
The question to Ambassador al-Douri, the question, what if he came out, an American president, and said, "I'm out of Iraq by the coming December"? Could you handle the 30 militias who are operating, the 30,000 to 50,000 foreign troops who are inside Iraq, the millions of weapons who are circulating there without any authority to run it? Could you do it from -- only from an Iraqi national way?
And by the way, I'm against any occupation for one minute to Iraq, so that you don't understand me wrong.
AL-DOURI: My answer is that the Americans will not leave Iraq. American troops will remain in Iraq for several years if not decades. Their program in Iraq, their ambitions, their goals, are not the liberation of Iraq. It is far away from that, it's called saving (ph) the whole Middle East area.
And also, don't forget the oil.
But, about asking me about the Iraqi people: I'm confident that the Iraqi people can handle, has a future. Let us put our hope in Iraqi people, in free election and in the shortest time, putting a timetable.
ADEEB: Free election without security (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
AL-DOURI: We -- I think the Iraqi people are able -- always able to have -- don't put this as obstruction in front of Iraqi people, because the Iraqi people will understand it as a justification to the persistence of American troops in Iraq and foreigner troops. So please, give confidence to the Iraqi people. They can handle it.
CLANCY: That's the idea, an election, by January of 2005. But in the meantime, this interim government, this June 30th, I want to hear some more comments from our studio audience here, what you have to say or what questions you have for our panel about that issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my name is Talid Ramalli (ph). (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and I agree with Mr. Douri. We can do that what we say without any Iraqi army, any Iraqi police, not even any Arabian aid for Iraqi people. I believe that we have had enough legal (ph) credibility in Iraq.
CLANCY: Perhaps what I'm hearing a little bit from the panel, and from you, Mr. Al-Douri, is that there has to be a confession of sorts by the White House that this was a huge mistake, regime change force. You can talk about democracy and freedom, but this isn't the way to bring it. What this proves it doesn't give the Iraqis the answer they're looking for, when they will see some relief.
SAMIA NAKHOUL, REUTERS: If you are reciting what's happening now in Iraq, we have to look ahead, and there has to be a building of an Iraqi army, Iraqi intelligence, Iraqi security, that can take over security as the first step, to prepare for elections, to prepare to empower the government. How can anything prevent anything in Iraq without having the power, without having an army or without having security? So I think this is why people have to look at, and I think this is what the Iraqis -- how can they go to school if they're going to have their kids killed in car bombs, you know, on their way to school.
CLANCY: All right, let's get another comment now from our studio audience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name's Sanan Baradi (ph). I'm a student at the American University of Georgia.
I think that despite the fact that the American forces sort of present a huge source of tension in Iraq, however, there are many unsolved problems in Iraq. So I think there should be, like, a gradual change for the Iraqis to have absolute power, and I see this new government coming on the June 30th, and I see that many Iraqis have seen it with great hope.
CLANCY: Shada, you've been there. People see it with hope?
SHADA OMAR, LBC, LEBANON: I think they see it with a little bit of hope, but I think what's at stake here, the Iraqi people want the basic services of life. Let's talk about the Iraqi peoples wants. They want electricity. They want water. They want to live in security, and if this interim government can provide that, this will be a success, and Mr. Allawi. He's a former Baathist, and he was the head of the security commission all the way this past year, but he couldn't, and all of the others couldn't provide security, and this is at stake, this is the big question, who's going to provide security to Iraqis.
CLANCY: It is the question that they are asking. We're going to have to take a break here, but when we come back, we're going to be looking beyond Iraq's borders. There are a lot of people that think Iraq may eventually somehow, some way become an example for democracy across the region.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
CLANCY: Welcome back. I'm Jim Clancy.
We're taking the Arab pulse here in Dubai's Media City. What is going on in Iraq, this COUNTDOWN TO HANDOVER on June 30 is being seen in a much broader sense around the world, and some in Washington say it is really evidence of the possibility, the realization of democratic change not only in Iraq, but all across the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Reform is in the air. Everyone touches on it. Reform is needed by all of the nations of the region, and we can sense that there is a groundswell in this part of the world for reform, for political reform, for economic reform, for social reform. There's a groundswell in this part of the world for educational reform, to make sure that your young people are being prepared not for the challenges a few centuries ago but for the challenges of the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: The challenges of the 21st century? What kind of an example will Iraq be, Jamil Azar of Al-Jazeera television?
JAMIL AZAR, AL-JAZEERA: I think what Mr. Powell is implying, I believe, is over optimistic and unrealistic in this region. Also, talking about democracy in Iraq at this stage, I think is a luxury, really. I mean, it is a far-fetched -- in the present circumstances, a far-fetched goal. But having said this, it doesn't mean that nobody should really work for reform, whether in Iraq or in the whole region, and I don't believe that Iraq, if reformed, if it becomes democratic state, would necessarily mean that democracy is going to prevail in the region. Also...
CLANCY: Let me ask Faris to weigh in here a little bit, because when you talk to the Iraqi people, Faris, they seem to believe, yes, we really do have a chance and with Saddam Hussein, we know we wouldn't have had a chance.
FARIS COURI, MBC, DUBAI: Yes, well, obviously under a regime by Saddam Hussein, there was no chance at all. Now there is some hope, but it will take a lot longer than everybody is expecting. The political institutions in Iraq are not mature. Yes, probably you could bring about a government which could handle things, handle their security issues, bring about stability. But that does not create democracy.
Democracy needs to grow and it needs to grow from the inside. It needs to accept one another, and at the moment, you have, what, about 100 political groups in Iraq or even more. Some of them are armed, and imagine the situation where there is no real control, a weak government. There would be a real threat of civil war.
CLANCY: But there has to be -- at some point there has to be a spark to the imagination that says, it's possible. Shada, and I think we in the media see it that, you know, we are having situations being discussed. People are talking about democracy, how I can bring it in. Perhaps we have an example of how not to do it, but at least people are talking about it, aren't they?
OMAR: Yes, we are talking about it. In the Arab world we all want democracy, not only the Iraqi people, we all need it, I think. But you cannot impose democracy. You cannot come and attack and invade the country and then impose democracy. Democracy has to be from within, from inside.
I know when you have a totalitarian regime it's very hard, it's practically impossible to have democracy, but people resent it now in the Arab world because it's being imposed by Americans, especially because we have the anti-American thinking now. Most of the Arab people do not like Americans, and this brings us to the question, why do they hate us? The questions that Americans raise.
CLANCY: You know, I was talking to one of our colleagues here in Dubai this week who said, what troubles me right now is that Americans are the leaders of the world, and yet the Americans know so little about it. Rami?
RAMI KHOURI, "THE DAILY STAR," LEBANON: Well, it's true, and I think what you have seen historically in the last, probably, well, 230 years or so, since the American modern state was born, is the United States has dealt with the world mostly as markets or targets, markets to trade with and targets to bomb. Now the United States has to engage the world in a much more sophisticated way and it's showing that it still doesn't understand how to do that.
This simplistic, romantic and well-intentioned idea of bringing democracy to the region through regime change in Iraq clearly is going to take a long time, if it ever happens. The much simpler way is, why doesn't the United States government stand up tomorrow -- without $87 billion, 800 fine American young men and women dead, tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, why doesn't the United States get up tomorrow and say, look, the president of Tunis or the president of Egypt should not have a fourth and a fifth term.
And let's promote democracy through a more rational dialogue through people with whom we have good relations. The U.S. is very close to many regimes in the Arab world, in Morocco, in Jordan, in Yemen, in Kuwait, in Egypt, in Tunis, and all over the region. It doesn't have to do warfare to promote democracy.
CLANCY: All right. You know, and I don't know whether we can separate out the mistakes that have been made from the future of the Iraqi people. I want to go clear down to the other end and talk with a former U.N. ambassador, Mohammed al-Douri.
And, Mohammed, I know from all the trips that I've made into Iraq, how industrious the Iraqi people are, how they are able with their own hands to build and shape their own society, independent of the outside world. Sanctions proved this in large measure, just how much they were capable of doing in defiance of what was happening in the West. And somehow when I think of the process of democratization there, I think that the Iraqi people are uniquely qualified to forge their own democracy in their own country that will be a powerful influence. What do you think?
AL-DOURI: I have only to agree with you and your statement because really, I think yes, we have several elements, but I think now we are feeling that the success of our -- of Iraq, of the future, cannot be without democracy, cannot be without freedom, cannot be without free elections, cannot be without human rights, so really there, we are thirsty of that. We need that.
CLANCY: Imad, agree, disagree?
IMAD EDIN ADEEB, ORBIT TV, EGYPT: The issue is that we are having a dilemma now. The dilemma is that democracy is known to be a product of USA, made in USA.
CLANCY: And is it really?
ADEEB: It's not true because it's not only -- democracy was not invented in the USA. It was invented even before even the States was born, but the question is, this is the largest industrial democracy in the world, but because it's made in USA, occupation also now, America, for the first time, is an occupier in the Middle East, and they are ugly occupiers and they have succeeded.
Mr. Bush has succeeded to do the whole manual of how to be hated in the Middle East. He went chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, and he went religiously on this manual...
CLANCY: Will that hurt the start of democracy
ADEEB: Because it is the culture of the occupier, it is not marketable. You cannot market this while Americans are on the ground. You cannot market democracy, American democracy on the ground. And if this Iraq is the showcase which the Americans in the nation-building process want to export to us, we don't want this showcase. This is not what we want or we dream of. We want to build our democracy our own way. This is number one.
Number two, talking about reform, Mr. Powell was talking about reform.
CLANCY: Something new in the air.
ADEEB: No, but also we want Americans to reform. It's not a one-way process. You have a president who talks, we are against theocratic governments. And American is against theocratic governments. But what would you say about the president, Mr. Bush, who says that he gets commands from God. He's talking like Mullah Mohammad Omar and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Osama bin Laden.
NAKHOUL: There is no confidence in American democracy in the sense that they backed all these leaders in the Middle East, that are autocratic leaders. There is no democracy, and all of these lies, like you start from Egypt to Pakistan to -- you know, how can the United States want Arabs to believe it is democracy while it is supporting regimes that are undemocratic. They can start with their own allies in enforcing some reforms in the countries that they support and they finance with billions of dollars every year.
KHOURI: All of us seem to agree that it's not a credible process that the United States is pushing. But despite that, what I think we should all do is challenge the United States, call their bluff, say, yes, we all want to promote democracy and reform and pluralism and accountability and transparency all over the Middle East. We want do it consistently in all of the countries at one time, and not just starting with a militarily run regime change in Iraq.
Let's do it across the board, agree on a program to do this, have consistency, and let's do it as a joint venture. All of the values of democracy are ones that are deeply ingrained in both Arab culture and the Islamic and the Christian and the Jewish traditions of the Middle East. And these are wide widespread throughout Arab society. And I think we should challenge the U.S. to actually live up to its word and not just selectively use democracy as a weapon to beat us over the head when it's expediently self-serving for Washington. CLANCY: All right, everybody hold your thoughts. We're going to have to take a short break here. It's a matter of convincing someone. We've been listening to the Arab media, the Arabic media has had a lot of influence in Washington. We're going to look at what influence they may have as Iraqis look toward a handover of power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have been lied about, however, day after day, week after week, month after month the last 12 months in the Arab press, in Al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya. So there's an awful lot of people that already have a rather unfavorable impression of what the United States is doing in Iraq, and how you deal with that I don't know. The answer is the United States deals with it imperfectly. We tend to tell the truth, and we try to tell the truth, goodness knows, and they lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, they lie, we try to tell the truth. The U.S. secretary of defense there laying it on the line. We're in Media City in Dubai, we're with some Arab journalists and distinguished guests as well as our studio audience here as we look at the countdown to the handover and take the Arab pulse.
All lies? I want go to Muhammad and ask him, since you're from al-Arabiya and you have got Al-Jazeera sitting next to you, how do you respond to that?
MUHAMMAD KHATEER, AL-ARABIYA: Well, Jim, I don't know who is lying to whom to be honest with you. I think what I have to say about this is the following. I think the Arab media provided a fresh alternative to the domination of the Western media that took place for a long time. We at this stage broke the monopoly that the Western media had all over the region here. The Arab media finally provided a different perspective to the Arab viewers. The Arab viewer was dependent totally on CNN and on others for their sources of information. But finally, I think we were able to provide an alternative to that.
CLANCY: Jamil, I know you don't want to weigh in but I'm going to ask you to anyway, because Al-Jazeera is always singled out, that you glorify those who commit the suicide bombings at the expense of the Iraqi civilians, to blame the U.S. military, that in one way or another somehow you encourage the violence or you accept wild claims that the U.S. is behind bombing police stations. What's the reality in your view?
AZAR: Well, I think in a situation of war, when the sources of information would be very difficult to get at, really, there can be mistakes. I'm not saying that everything we say or cover is definitely perfect and so on. Everybody makes mistakes. On our part, I think the main thing is that we try to avoid any mistakes. Having said that, I believe that the way Al-Jazeera -- at least I talk about that Al-Jazeera covers the news, is that we cover the news as news is. If you see on our screens violent scenes, then the violent scenes have happened. And to...
CLANCY: Is it fair criticism, Jamil, for Iraqis to say? And they've told me this, they've said that somehow the Arab news networks, when they dwell on this violence and they dwell on it being the U.S. occupation, they are in one way or another depriving us of the aid. They help encourage the kind of insecurity and instability that prevents electricity from being restored, water service from being restored, that in a sense and in a way they feel they're being shortchanged.
AZAR: Well, Jim, I think if you compare your coverage of what happens in Iraq -- if you compare it with our coverage, with al- Arabiya and so on, I think you would find that there is a sense that the Arab media is concentrating on the suffering that is heaped over the Iraqis.
CLANCY: And I would have to concede here, and you know, I do this in front of our studio audience and everything, CNN does not devote all of its time to coverage of Iraq. There are other issues, global issues that come up, and we cover that, whereas the Arab media is much more focused on what is going on in Iraq today, but given it's devoting so much time, is it doing a good job, Samia?
NAKHOUL: I think it is doing a good job. In the sense, you know, before, Arabs never had satellite television to show them what was going on. I'll give you an example, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in '82, nobody would see what was going on in Lebanon. Now with Arab television, something is happening in Iraq, people can see it immediately, including the Western players. Even during the Iraq war, they were copying from our TV and taking footage and from other television. So maybe the U.S. administration is angry because these Arab televisions are having an impact on Arab viewers and on Western viewers, like what happened at our hotel, when they hit the Palestine Hotel. The Americans said that there were spotters in the hotel and this is why they were hit, why the...
CLANCY: You were hit in that attack?
NAKHOUL: I was hit, yes. And my colleague died and another colleague, while the footage -- the TV footage shows an American tank turning and posing and hitting directly the building. And there were no spotters, there were no snipers, nothing. There were 300 journalists there who were witnesses to just a bombardment, I don't know, by mistake, not mistake but there were no spotters. So this challenges the U.S. government.
CLANCY: So the Arab media has been -- helped form a line of truth for Iraqis to understand what's going on. Faris?
COURI: Yes, I would agree with that, we tried all the time to bring about the truth. It is -- actually, we are all overstrained and the Western media, before we worked in the Arab media, we were trained to do the right thing, to bring about the truth all the time. No one is expected to put together something which is not truthful. Whether the audience and the Arab media would accept that as a kind of promoting violence is something different. But what happened is the truth, and we are putting on the screen - is the total truth.
CLANCY: Is that truth? Do you think getting the Iraqi people closer to sovereignty, closer to taking back control, is it working, Imad?
ADEEB: Sir, you have to be reporting what you have seen. We're not saying that the Arab media is having the monopoly of always being right, but at least they are reporting what they are seeing. It's not only Washington who has the monopoly of being right and others are wrong. What's happening, in Iraq, yes, there are foreign insurgents. Yes, there are mercenaries. Yes, there are people whom we don't know. Yes, there are fanatics, but there are what you can call a resistance. There is an occupation, and there is Iraqi resistance and this should be reported.
CLANCY: Let's listen to our studio audience. We have some questions. Basama (ph), would you start us off?
QUESTION: Yes, Basama Semblah (ph) from a Riyadh newspaper. I would agree with Mr. Ambassador Mommahed Al Douri said earlier about the security issue in Iraq. A very simple question. The U.S. Army failed to provide Iraqi people with security. Would the Arab League lend their help to Iraqi people to provide them with security, to start again to build up the country? This is the question.
CLANCY: Faris, would that work?
COURI: With an intervention of Arab armies? Well, I would think if...
CLANCY: Would they even be willing to come in, let's be realistic?
COURI: That's the question that I'm going to throw. We should direct the question to the Arab governments and will they want to come at all and under what conditions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have to get out. They have to get out, because you have one Arab army went to Lebanon, until now they didn't go out.
COURI: Yes, that's the question.
OMAR: Yes, I think that it's very hard now to ask of the Arab leaders to send something to mend what's happening in Iraq. It's not their job to do this. Americans made mistakes there and they have to mend these mistakes. This is not the responsibility of the Arabs. I'm not defending the Arab leaders here but I'm talking about a reality. Mistakes have been made. The one... CLANCY: The pointing finger of blame, remember, when we started out this program, we asked, how are we going to help the Iraqis, how are you going to help lift them up? Our aim in here is never to figure out a way lift up the Americans, they have to make their own decisions. They have to come up with their own strategy. I have to come up with another question from our guests who have joined us here in the studio because I promised to listen to what you have to say too. Weigh in.
QUESTION: Actually, it's a question for the panel here. This is Mahmoud Sabri (ph) from Gulf News. Many people in the region believe that the U.S. media, the Western media is rightly or wrongly Jewish- controlled. And actually the question is for the panelists, the freedom of the press have come very recently here, and what do they comment about that? You know, because CNN, I think, is the media which has brought freedom of press to the region, because after that first Gulf War, the channels here really opened up.
CLANCY: Anybody want to comment, Khouri?
KHOURI: I think the issue of the freedom of the press in the Arab world is in its very early stages. There has certainly been a huge liberalization, commercialization and professionalization of the media sparked by first by the offshore printed press in Europe, and then by the satellite channels. And I think there has been a tremendous improvement in the quality and the range of media in Arabic.
But I think what you still see is that the mainstream Arab media, the satellites, the print, will not touch the two key sources of power in Arab countries, which is, who controls the military, and who controls the money. Until we start really looking into how power is exercised, and the peaceful transition of executive authority, where presidents don't stay in power for life and military coup leaders don't stay in power for life, until we deal with those real issues of how power is exercised, we will still be a press that deals with good news reporting, but doesn't really play the role of accountability.
CLANCY: Many of the questions that are being asked, the example that the United States gives in democracy, in the way that it has carried out the campaign, the occupation of Iraq, all come back to one of image, the trust that the people of Iraq have in the United States. And I can't help but refer back to something that King Abdullah had to tell to one of our correspondents recently. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDULLAH, KING OF JORDAN: American policy is under fire and what hurts me is, having been a product of an American educational system and having many friends in the United States, is to feel this anger and frustration throughout the Middle East and the region -- I mean, so with the international community, which is even more surprising, towards America. I'm beginning to sense this hatred for the first time that is being sort of turned onto the American people as opposed to American policy. And I am trying to make our friends, the United States, aware that there is this trend that is very disturbing to all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: The U.S. image, very disturbing to some people as they see a shift in trust but that trust is going to be needed in order to convert Iraq from the chaos that we see in the streets today, into a full-fledged democracy, capable of independence. I want to go very briefly down the line here about the optimism you may have for the Iraqi people and their future after this handover, Imad?
ADEEB: I can be optimistic about Iraq, and also neglect what's happening in Palestine. Both of them are two linked together. They are two stories linked together and I think this administration, this president is the main problem, and it's not that we are anti-American, or anti-American values. We are against the Bush administration foreign policy.
CLANCY: Faris, are you -- any optimism that you have as an Iraqi?
COURI: Yes, I do. I think -- I am optimistic about the future of Iraq, but given the American policies in the Middle East, given their policies in Israel, and their thoughts of imposing their will on the Middle East, is not encouraging at all.
AL-DOURI: Well, I think -- I can't be optimistic. I have only to be pessimistic because the occupying power is there, planning to stay in Iraq for a long time ahead. So I can be optimistic when the Americans decide that they will leave Iraq forever, and at that time, I will be optimistic.
CLANCY: We have to leave it there with our panel. But I want to ask our studio guests, with a show of hands, can you show me how many of you are optimistic about Iraq's future on this handover? How many of you think the Iraqi people are going to make democracy a success? Raise your hands. Come on. Not even one of you?
CLANCY: Al-Douri, did you pay them?
CLANCY: All right. Well, I want to thank all of you for being with us in our panel. Also, everybody in our studio audience. I don't know about you, but I'm a little bit surprised, only one tentative hand optimistic about June 30, what the handover will mean for Iraqis?
Having just returned from Iraq about a month ago, I found many more people inside the country were optimistic about their future, even experiencing firsthand many of the problems that we've been talking about today, the security and so many other things. But outside the country and the rest of the Arab world, it would seem people are more concerned, still concerned about what has gone on in the past.
I'm going to share with you just a little bit at the end of our taping of an exchange between the audience and one of our guests, the former U.N. ambassador.
AL-DOURI: I recognize that there are gross mistakes -- big mistakes, but not as big as the American occupation which you are defending.
COURI: I am not defending.
QUESTION: I am from Iraq and you said you are one of them. You are not one of them because you haven't been in suffering at all and all of your life...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we rolling?
AL-DOURI: I am a citizen, an Iraqi citizen. You know exactly what is my life, you know exactly how much money I have? You know how much money I have? You are richer than me, my dear, and he is richer than me.
COURI: But you still occupy your office...
COURI: You occupied your office.
AL-DOURI: I am representing Iraq and I am proud of that and I am will still, proud of that. I have no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for that, absolutely.
COURI: You wouldn't shed a tear on the mass graves and the people who were...
AL-DOURI: This is -- I discover it now, not before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on.
AL-DOURI: And you did that. And you did that. Madam, you did that. You discovered this now, because of the Americans. You know that very well.
QUESTION: Not one of your sons or your daughters.
AL-DOURI: Yes, I have. I have lost a lot, I have lost a lot. But I am Iraqi, I'm a real Iraqi. I defend my country. CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy and that is "The Pulse of the Arab World."
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