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CNN LIVE ON LOCATION

Interview With Sheikh Saud al-Sabah

Aired April 9, 2003 - 15:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now here in Kuwait City, a special guest, the former Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Sheikh Saud al-Sabah.
Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for joining us. A lot of our viewers will remember you from the first Gulf War when you were the ambassador in Washington. This must be so exciting for you to see the downfall of Saddam Hussein given what his regime did to your country a dozen years ago.

SHEIKH SAUD AL-SABAH, FRM. KUWAITI AMB. TO U.S.: Thanks, Wolf, for inviting me. It's always good to see you and to talk to our friends in the United States.

Let me first of all express our deep condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in this war, our sympathies go to them. And our congratulations to the coalition forces led by the United States for the victory that has been achieved, which has been magnificent. And also our congratulations to the Iraqi people right now who have gained their freedom and liberty out from the tyrant, Saddam Hussein and his regime.

BLITZER: So how excited is the Kuwaiti government, the Kuwaiti people right now? You despised Saddam Hussein since a dozen years ago when he invaded your country.

AL-SABAH: It's an understatement saying we despise him, despise the guy. I mean he obliterated Kuwait. He tried to wipe Kuwait out of the map. And now that the -- I'll be talking about the new world order which was started by former President Bush by liberating Kuwait, now the current President Bush now is liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

So he's been kicked out of Kuwait, he's being kicked out of Iraq right now. We are, to say the least, we jubilant that the Iraqi people have their freedom again, but we are looking ahead to find somehow a coexistence, a peaceful coexistence with any oncoming Iraqi government that will be chosen by the Iraqi people which is an internal domestic issue.

We have to be careful with this problem. To choose the right with the right government which will be acceptable to the Iraqi people and to the world community.

BLITZER: How long will it take, do you think, before the U.S. military -- there are more than 100,000 troops now in Iraq -- how long will it take before they can leave and there will be a democratic stable regime in Baghdad?

AL-SABAH: This is for the U.S. administration to decide when they really feel confident that law and order and security has been obtained in Iraq, a new government is in place, and maybe the process of a new constitution and new elections in Iraq where they will have the freedom to choose their own representatives and their own government, their own leadership in Iraq.

Unless and until that is done, I believe it would be premature, my personal view, for the U.S. and British to leave prematurely before it is achieved because it might cause disarray inside Iraq if there is no controlling power supervising the whole administration side of Iraq.

BLITZER: Will the rest of the Arab world -- Kuwait has been strongly aligned with the United States in this initiative, in this war. Will other Arab countries, moderate Arab countries, Jordan, Egypt and others now join Kuwait, do you believe, in supporting what the U.S. and British coalition forces have done?

AL-SABAH: Well, Kuwait took a frontline position, no doubt about that. Kuwait has been a front line. We have risked our -- the lives of our people, our country, air space, everything for coalition forces. I have always said we spearheaded this coalition.

Now, I cannot speak on behalf of the other Arab countries, but I believe they see the victory here and they see the jubilation of the Iraqi people after liberation. And I think this is expressive of how the Iraqi people feel, that they want to get rid of this regime and they are thankful for the decision taken by the United States and Britain to come in and liberate them.

Now, I think for the -- those governments who speak for themselves and also for the public opinion of the Arab world to see the jubilation of the Iraqi people and learn from it and take a lesson from it because this is the freedom of the people, the freedom of expression of the people, which is the most important, I believe as we saw on our screens on television today.

This is just a small and minor thing. You will see much larger expression of thanks to the coalition forces. And it's surprising to see people carrying the U.S. flag and British flags in Iraq. I mean this is something nobody, I believed, would have happened. Now we're seeing it. We're seeing the reality. We're seeing a new world order coming into place. Freedom, democracy and the liberation completely of the tyrants and dictators in our region.

BLITZER: Sheikh Saud al-Sabah, thanks so much for joining us. I know you speak for a lot of Kuwaitis, if not all of the Kuwaitis. A very, very happy day for you and your country and your people. Thanks so much for joining us.

AL-SABAH: It's happy day for everybody, especially, I believe, for the people that risked their lives for this operation. And thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Sheik.

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