Following are excerpts from an interview with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on March 30, 2006:
Jalal Talabani: There are some patriotic Iraqis who have driven by certain circumstances to take up arms. Let me tell you a secret, sister Giselle. I have contacts with these brothers who call themselves the Honorable National Iraqi Resistance. They are not connected with the Saddam and Al-Zarqawi supporters. I think that they have begun to understand the need to act politically and to stop the armed operations, because they do not serve anyone, nor do they serve their purpose.
Interviewer: You said that you have connections with the so-called Honorable National Iraqi Resistance. Who are these people, and what kind of operations do they carry out in Iraq?
Jalal Talabani:I cannot tell you who they are, because the meetings are confidential, and a final agreement has not been signed, and therefore I cannot expose them. However, they include free Iraqi officers, whom I know from the past, from the days of our joint struggle against the dictatorship. They include intellectuals and respected tribesmen. There are also religious scholars who support them. These brothers have begun to feel the need to cease the armed struggle, and to reach results with the Americans and with the Iraqi government, so they too can start participating in the democratic political process.
Interviewer: What resistance fighters in Iraq do they represent? If we take into account all the armed men who oppose the state - what percentage of the armed groups in Iraq do they constitute?
Jalal Talabani:Those with whom I have contacts believe that they represent the vast majority of the armed men, and they say that they are capable of enforcing security and stability in the Sunni Arab regions.
Interviewer: Are they responsible
for some of the car bombs,
for some of the assassinations,
for some of the resistance operations against the coalition forces?
Jalal Talabani: No, they claim that they are against car bombs, against the killing of peaceful people, and against blowing up cars in mosques, Shiite seminaries, in schools and markets. They consider these operations to be terrorist operations. Likewise, they condemn terrorism. But, they did what they did... in the hope of bringing about the speedy withdrawal of the coalition forces. Now they have become convinced that the presence of the coalition forces in Iraq must be solved by political and democratic means, and not military.
Interviewer: Mr. President, since when have you
been in contact with these people?
Jalal Talabani: Sister Giselle, as you may recall, I declared a long time ago that as President of Iraq, I am responsible for every Iraqi citizen, even those who are in prison or displaced. As president, I have announced that my door is open to every Iraqi who wants to address the government, or to address me. These brothers have some trust in the President of Iraq, and they think favorably of him, and therefore, they contacted me directly two months ago, and before that, there were indirect contacts, through mediators.
The resistance [fighters] who call themselves the Honorable National Iraqi Resistance, have begun to realize the futility of fighting the Americans.
Interviewer: Are they the ones who kidnapped the foreigners, and perhaps Arabs of other nationalities?
Jalal Talabani: Sister Giselle, there are three types of kidnappers. Some of them are former criminals who were released, and who kidnap people for money. We call this ransom in Iraq. They take money for releasing the hostage. Some of them are Al-Zarqawi supporters, and some are those who call themselves the Honorable National Iraqi Resistance.