THE following are excerpts from an interview with Muhammad al-Mashat, Iraqi ambassador to the United States, who spoke with editors and writers at the Monitor last week.
What shocks us in Iraq [is] the speed as well as the nature and the volume of the American offensive forces that came into our midst with no reason whatsoever....
America wanted to wage war from the Holy Land against an Arab and Muslim country without that country doing anything to America, or touching American interests....
Our analysis is that [the presence of] US forces [is] motivated by internal US politics, and ... by the Israeli lobby. The pretext was that all these troops are necessary to protect the American way of life.
It is surprising that you saw nothing in the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait that might have been of concern to the US.
Is Kuwait part of the US? Does the US have an alliance with Kuwait? Does the US have a defense agreement or strategic alliance with it in order to come to its defense? Kuwait is an Arab country, and an Arab problem. This is the domain of the Arab family, Arab League, and the UN....
The Kuwaiti problem will be solved if America honors its own principles, and honors its own value system by having one standard, not a double standard. Israel has been occupying the West Bank since 1967, annexing Jerusalem, annexing part of Syria in the Golan Heights. Since 1982, they have been occupying part of Lebanon.
Now, if you are talking about a new world order, first you have to follow one principle: implement Security Council resolutions; have sanctions on the countries that are defying those resolutions; force them to go out through the UN flag.... We are ready to solve the Kuwaiti problem and the so-called Gulf crisis.
Do you mean Iraq invaded Kuwait because of the West Bank situation?
No. ... This has nothing to do with the reasons why we took action....
We had a problem with Kuwait.... We consider that they have waged an economic war on Iraq, and we were forced to take military action.... Who deals with the result of any military action? The Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution on similar occasions, but it was left without sanction or implementation.
We preferred to solve [the problem] within the Arab arena. If we did not succeed, OK, then it should be the UN arena.
But you have said that while the Arabs are a culturally united people, they are politically divided. How in that context can there be a viable solution?
Everywhere you find political division, even in the US. But if we are left alone without exterior intervention, we are able to solve our own problem....
After we took military action, ... it was agreed to have an immediate Arab summit in Saudi Arabia.... And it was agreed that it would be the evening of Aug. 4 or the morning of Aug. 5. The morning of Aug. 5, King Fahd suddenly changed his mind. And then later on as the situation unfolded, [US Secretary of Defense Richard] Cheney was on his way to Saudi Arabia.
We feel ... that you planted in the Saudi leader's head that we are threatening Saudi Arabia. And people said that you forced Saudi Arabia, twisted their arm,that [you said] you are coming anyway.
How do you see this situation being resolved?
We put forth our initiative on Aug. 12, in which we said ... that there should be an evenhanded implementation of all Security Council [resolutions] in the area because we would like to have peace once and for all....
Do you not feel that the Saudi government had some legitimate concern about a massive movement of Iraqi military into Kuwait?
No, for a very simple reason: ... We had had excellent relations with Saudi Arabia. We made an nonaggression pact with Saudi Arabia which we don't have with Kuwait. We have no claims over any piece of land of Saudi Arabia.
Do you see any time frame in which a resolution needs to be reached?
No. That depends upon the US. If the US acts for its real national interest, not to be goaded by the Israeli lobby to destroy Iraq, ... I think we can arrive at a peaceful solution....
Look at [French President Fran,cois] Mitterrand's initiative. We said that this is the first time we see a positive initiative, although we do not agree with all of it.... We are going to contact the French in order to present them our views. If we were completely uncompromising, we would have rejected that out of hand.