COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
IRAQI INTERIOR MINISTER SAMIR SUMAIDY
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004
(NOTE: Minister Sumaidy's remarks are through interpreter unless indicated
MIN. SUMAIDY: A week ago I have received a tremendous responsibility. That was
the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior in this hard time that our
country is undergoing, and the reactions that I received were all the same:
congratulations and God help you. By assuring on the second part, I know well
the magnitude of the mission that is confronting me and confronting the ministry
at this time.
Iraq is under an occupation situation and it's preparing itself to assume power
from the occupying forces, and preparing themselves or preparing the country for
an elected government. And I, as my ex-role as a member of the Governing
Council, I was part of this political path and I have forwarded whatever I can
that I can to direct it in a national direction towards pushing Iraq towards
building, towards dependency and constructing the facilities and the country and
the economy and building a new life for the citizens.
But this path that we have started a year ago was facing serious challenges, and
all the forces of setback and criminal and the recent guerrilla forces were all
unified from outside Iraq in the aim of thwarting this project, which is the
project of building a democratic and free country. These oppressive forces do
not want Iraq to uprise and do not want it to be open on the world and receive
assistance in its uprising, and most of the investments come from all over the
world to recruit the employments and the facilities would be improved and
prevail its security and everybody lives in peace and love no matter or despite
our religious or nationalities or our ideological/political tendencies.
All these powers, the terrorists and setback powers, are feeded by thugs and
gangs, including the gang that was ruling Iraq in the past and they have been
defeated on the 9th of April, 2003, and they were all dreaming of coming back to
strangle the Iraqis once again. That's why we have witnessed and we are
witnessing every day appalling attacks that has targeted all the facilities of
life and the stability factors under the motto of resisting the occupation. But
this motto is false. I'm saying that this is false, because they are doing --
whatever they are doing is rooting the occupation and prolonging it, and do not
let the Iraqi security factors to take its role, which is maintaining security
gradually from the occupation forces.
How can we put an interpretation for targeting the U.N. and the foreign
embassies and the Red Cross, the oil pipes, the electricity powers and the
police facilities and even the schools? How can we interpret intimidating the
civilians and threatening them to stop them from going to their works and
stopping the people from joining their colleges and their schools?
A country cannot stand up on chaos and cannot be prosperous, only under
supremacy of law. That is why the most important issue that is confronting the
Iraqis is the security issue and the supremacy of law.
MIN. SUMAIDY (?): Success in establishing the power of law on all requires two
conditions. First condition: that the citizens should cooperate with the
authority to confront the outlaws and criminals who are threatening their life
and the future. Second condition: that qualified security organs that -- capable
of performing their duties, working in a legal framework.
There are some who say that we'll not accept any authority that is established
under occupation. This is a beautiful speech. I don't want the state of
occupation to be perpetuated. Before two years, 90 percent of the Iraqi people
were wishing the utmost -- they wished that any power should come to help them
to eliminate the nightmare which was torturing them. This power has come and
eliminated the regime of Saddam and committed itself, through the resolutions of
the United Nations, to advance the country towards establishing an elected
government through a free election.
What do we want else? What do we find today? We find that a great number of
terrorists and criminals and ignorants who have been deceived -- and they don't
realize the consequences of their acts -- are confronting this authority, not by
reason but by intimidation, kidnapping and looting and destruction.
Let us ask ourselves, if by a miracle that these people were successful and they
gain victory in the war they wage against the new government, what will happen?
They will gain victory over the coalition forces by forcing them to depart; and
they will gain victory on the police forces by occupying the police stations and
looting them again; and they will gain victory over embassies, they will sweep
it away and kill everybody in it; and they will conquer the foreign companies,
such as the Russian companies working to reform the electrical network, to get
higher ransoms; and they will gain victory over the oil institutions so that the
exportation of oil will be stopped.
If they gain victory, what will the destiny of Iraq? What will be the destiny of
this people? We say that this will never happen and can't happen. We have cycled
through long years to get rid of a systematic, oppressive dictatorship, not to
transfer this to a number of anarchic dictatorships consisting of gangs of
criminals and groups of mentally retarded people. We call on all our citizens in
Iraq that they should realize the consequences of this impasse and they will
confront it by any means.
And now we come to the Ministry of Interior. After the collapse of the former
regime, many government institutions collapsed with it. Among them was the
Ministry of Interior. To maintain the ability to impose supremacy of law, we
need to rehabilitate this ministry on a sound basis, and we should get rid of
the negative aspects which we have inherited from the past regime, whether this
was the ways of working, or relationship with the people, or administrative
corruption, or violating laws and trespassing on human rights. We are now in the
process of working out a plan to develop this ministry, depending on the
qualified elements to raise the standard of performance, such as the equipment,
and the legal frameworks, and adopting new technology and taking advantage of
We have to reward the sincere and punish the offenders, and we should depend the
criteria of the service provided to the citizens to estimate the performance of
the ministry. And we should promote the policemen who have shown great courage
in facing all aspects of the challenge of law, and we should get rid of the
elements who do not want from joining the police nothing more than to receive
salary and they have nothing to do with their duty. We will not tolerate with
the criminals who are threatening the citizens' security and to attack them, and
we will deal decisively with those who allow themselves to stand against the
As for the responsible, peaceful citizen, he is the one who deserves all the
care and attention. So we hope to transfer the ministry with the cooperation of
the people and the employees to a new state where the people realize the results
in their daily lives. And through this major work, we congratulate the Iraqi
security forces for their role and for assuming the full security duty from the
coalition as soon as possible, and by this we would have done our job towards
our people and beloved country.
The Ministry of Interior was a symbol for the suppression and the violations of
the law. We want to reconstruct this ministry so it will be a symbol for the
people's service and their protection, and to put in power the power of law.
Therefore, we need a reorganization for this ministry, and we will do this by
A week ago, I took the rather daunting responsibility of minister of Interior in
these turbulent times. The Ministry of Interior in Iraq used to be a symbol of
oppression. (Short audio break) -- all good officials and responsible citizens
to transform this into a symbol of service for the nation, a symbol of the good
and correct enforcement of the law.
This transformation will take some time. The time that we are going through is
very difficult. We are facing challenges right, left and center. But I am quite
optimistic that we will be able to meet these challenges because Iraqis have
suffered long enough and now they really want to have stability, security and
normal life while enjoying their freedom.
Those extremists, terrorists and criminals who are challenging law and order in
Iraq will be defeated, and we will make absolutely sure that all the resources
are available to do it and that the citizens are aware of what we are doing. We
will run a transparent activity at the ministry. And I believe, with the active
cooperation of the majority of the Iraqi people, we will succeed.
I will now take your questions.
Q (Through interpreter.) Santa Mikhail (ph) from al-Shur (ph) television.
Recently there has been many cases of kidnapping, especially the sons of such
people. Some TV stations aired that the Ministry of Interior is not capable of
confronting the extremists and the gangs. What will you comment?
MIN. SUMAIDY: As for kidnapping, this is part of an increase in the rate of
crime. Some of these crimes is systematic and organized. This comes at a time
when political crimes are taking place too. The solution is to rehabilitate the
institutions of the Interior Ministry. I have ordered today to establish a
specialized unit; there is a unit specialized in dealing with kidnapping. We
have established a special unit to follow up cases of political kidnapping. The
foreign ambassadors are contacting us continually after each case of kidnapping.
This gives a negative impression about Iraq. I hope this will not continue.
The rehabilitation of the security forces is the answer to all this, and we will
escalate this operation.
Microphone, please. Microphone. Microphone.
Q (Off mike.)
MIN. SUMAIDY: Certainly the traffic issue is a reflection of the general
situation. If the traffic got organized, it will give a better feeling for the
citizens that things are going well. We have given this issue a great attention
and soon you will witness a very new initiative; you will see its effects in the
street. One of the problems facing quick reaction is that there isn't any valid
law for penalties, especially concerning traffic. We will perform this very soon
and we will solve this problem.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ambassador Carina Perelli talked about three kinds of
elections in Iraq during the coming weeks. How are you prepared for the law of
parties in Iraq? Can you give us an idea about the law of parties in Iraq?
MIN. SUMAIDY: I am speaking in my capacity as minister of Interior and not as a
member in the Governing Council. But as far as I know, I know that the election
law, we have not started discussing this law, although we have some ideas about
Q (Through interpreter.) The Ministry of Interior is an executive side, not a
legislative one. Al Manah channel. As the minister of internal affairs, what is
your opinion about the violent confrontations in different provinces in Iraq,
and what are your procedures against those who are committing the violent
MIN. SUMAIDY: As I've said, any attempt to put political will by the force of
violence is not in the well being of the Iraqi people. There are peaceful
channels to reach the political goals. As I said before, we are preparing for
elections, fair elections, organized/supervised by the U.N. So if any side would
like to take part, they are most welcome. There's no need for violence. As for
those who want to use violence to achieve their political goals, this represents
a breach of the national well being and we should deal with it decisively.
Q (Through interpreter.) Al Iraqiyah channel. My question is about the
percentage of unemployed people is high. Don't you think that this percentage
contributes about 50 percent of the deterioration of the security situation? And
also don't you think that the ministry -- as a new minister, don't you think
that depending on the previous security members and using their expertise would
come in handy?
MIN. SUMAIDY: Could you please repeat your question, the first question?
Q (Off mike.)
MIN. SUMAIDY: This is clear. The unemployment situation has many security
drawbacks. We do not deny this.
But what I am saying is that employing those unemployed, employments, is not
violence. The unemployed person who uses violence, he is actually delaying the
solution to his problem. If the situation was peaceful and stable, if we were
controlling the violence, we would have now been noticing an economical
We were predicting that at the end of 2004, we would have luck in servicemen and
workers. So there is no solution in violence.
Q (Through interpreter.) New Iraq Channel. You said that there are security
bodies to help the Ministry of Interior. Are you capable right now of creating
these security bodies?
MIN. SUMAIDY: This also is connected to the previous question. Yes, we are
capable of creating these bodies, and we should use all those people with
expertise in this field. But this should be done according to the rules and
We should do this as soon as possible, because every day that passes without
achieving any progress in this field, the situation will become worse.
Q (Through interpreter.) Al-Kharah (sp) newspaper.
Q (Through interpreter.) Dia (sp) newspaper. We notice that there are a lot of
policemen who have become biased towards a lot of militias during the recent
violent events. Those who have become biased, you said that they will be
subjected to punishments, and there are a lot of rules that have been released
against Muqtada al-Sadr. So how do you want to carry those out while you have
biased members in your police force?
MIN. SUMAIDY: After the change that took place one year ago, there was a
security vacuum. And the ministry, with its new formation has begun. It took a
while; there was a period where a number of members were appointed without any
thorough security check. During the last period we have seen a lot of
deficiencies and drawbacks in the service. So now we can take another look and
review the situation. And we should take the (quantitative ?) point of view
rather than the -- (word inaudible) -- point of view in choosing those members.
If there is a multiple -- (word inaudible) -- then this means the end of the
police force. We will get rid of all of those members who have shown biases
towards militias and political sides. Those who have proven that they do not
stand by the law but by other sides, they will be punished, and we will promote
those who have took a stand by the law and did not divert from their duty.
Q (Through interpreter) -- (inaudible) -- newspaper. The previous minister
announced that his ministry was suffering from a lack of equipment and even
weapons, and also moral authority. Have these matters been tackled, and is the
current ministry capable of assuming their responsibilities and of the security
MIN. SUMAIDY: Of course there was a large lack in the equipment, security
equipment in Iraq, police equipment, and this lack still holds to a certain
percentage. But there are certain procedures being taken now, quick procedures,
and I intend to tell you more details; in a soon-coming conference I will tell
you about the details of a new plan and about the equipment and weapons that
will be provided to the police force. The police force will receive all they
need to carry out their duty.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ali (sp), Al Murakha (ph) newspaper. In advance we tell
you may God be with you. The process of change that has taken place was not
because of deficiencies in the previous minister. Can you frankly tell us why
this change has took place and what are the effects in the political scene?
MIN. SUMAIDY: First, I would like to say from this position, from this (post ?),
that the previous minister, Nuri Badran, was a friend and still is a dear
friend. I have worked with him when he was a deputy for Mr. Ayad Alawi in the
Iraqi Governing Council, and I do not doubt his capabilities or qualifications.
I believe that, although he has left the ministry, but he is still capable of
giving and performing, and I expect that he will come back to cooperate with us
in building Iraq in a new position.
I was not a side in what happened to Mr. Nuri. But actually I was surprised when
this mission was offered to me, and after considering the situation I decided to
accept this mission. This is what I can tell you about this.
Q (Through interpreter.) Adnan Amal (ph) from Al-Hurriyah. The authority will be
transferred to the Iraqis. Is the Ministry of Interior ready to accept the
MIN. SUMAIDY: Our first mission is to prepare ourselves to take the security
mission when the new Iraqi government will assume power from the coalition
forces. All the internal security institutions will enable them to perform this
duty. I think that we'll cover a long term during the forthcoming months. I
don't claim that the security institutions will be capable of assuming the
security file. This depends on the participation of citizens. As far as I am
concerned, I will endeavor to reach the utmost state of responsibility for
Q (Through interpreter.) Your Excellency, there are extremist elements who
target the Iraqi scientists by assassinating them. Do you have any information
about the status?
MIN. SUMAIDY: I didn't get into the details. I spent the first week in getting
myself acquainted with the general situation in the ministry and working out a
preliminary plan to reestablish the Interior Ministry or to restructure the
ministry. Such details are not available with me now. I know that this
phenomenon should be washed out and resources should be devoted to follow up
such phenomenon. We should strengthen the intelligence side. The police deals
with the incident after it happens. We should try to prevent such incidents.
Prevention is better than cure.
Q (Through interpreter.) At the beginning of establishing the police forces, the
coalition forces did not adopt the policy of revealing the history of those who
came to join the forces. Do you have a plan to review the history of those?
MIN. SUMAIDY: We are going to review all the previous appointments, and we'll
get rid of the criminals who infiltrated the security forces.
Q Hamal Shujuri (ph) from al-Furat (sp). Al-Sadr forces have taken control of a
number of police stations in a number of governates. How do you regain these
institutions? Is it by confrontation or by negotiation?
MIN. SUMAIDY: The first issue is that there can't be more than one government;
the authority should be unified. This is the authority of the state. There can't
be a number of multiple centers of power.
Second point: we want to avoid bloodshed, at any expense. That's why we start
with finding a solution, a peaceful solution, to all problems. But it should be
clear that in all cases we should regain the authority and the supremacy of the
Q (Through interpreter.) Hul Jazeri (sp) from Al-Midbarat (sp). You said we are
in the process in the reconstruction of the Ministry of Interior. This means
that we need a new cadre of police. In the past, the coalition trained the
police. Will this continue, or will the Ministry of Interior take control of
training without the cooperation of any party?
MIN. SUMAIDY: The training issue is a very important issue. Police is a
profession. Not only in Iraq but all over the world, it has its requirements.
Training is similar. It is all alike, whether it was in Iraq, Saudi -- Egypt.
Now we have the training programs for certain aspects of the work of police.
These programs will be developed and completed.
In the early stages of forming the police station, there was a need to hurry up,
to graduate the police and police officers. But by practical experiment, we
discovered that they need more training and more detailed training, so that when
they graduate, we can be sure that they can deal with the situation. That's why
we'll develop and deepen the programs of training.
When I said reconstruction, I didn't mean that we are going to break down all
the structure. We are going to reconstruct the ministry to make it more
efficient in performing its duties.
Q (Through interpreter.) Jassem (sp) from Al Navah (sp). The tool is the most
important thing in performing law. The good tool for law is not available now --
in the past and now, because we have here that -- you said that all those who
made mistakes will be expelled. Will you expel those who were emotional, and as
a man of law who have graduated from the college of police, will you distinguish
between this state and that?
The other issue concerning the experts, the experts of the Ministry of Interior,
as the high institute for police and the institute for combatting drugs, which
belongs to the Council of the Arab Ministers of Interior, how will these
institutions have their role to secure the civilian security for the Iraqis?
MIN. SUMAIDY: This is a very long question. I said only one question. My dear
brother, we should set a criteria. If we start talking about expelling people,
we are not talking about something that depends on our mood. This should be done
according to criteria. Now, what is the minimum level required for good conduct?
This can be decided within a policy, and this criteria will be applied to
individuals and cases. We don't want to do injustice to anybody. We have
exploited many of these people, we have invested in them, but we cannot tolerate
this phenomena. We should differentiate between those who shoulder the
responsibility and defend his position, and those who do the contrary, he goes
from the back and attacks the police. As for the experts, no matter where these
experts come from, we are going to exploit this expertise. We want to raise the
level of the police, security forces in general. We should raise the ethical and
the technical level, the physical level. All these levels should be raised so
that we can establish a competent institution.
Last question, please.
Q (Through interpreter.) Hasam Ilbery (ph) from -- (inaudible). Salaam aleikum.
Since that you are the head of the high commission for the institution of
combatting terrorism, what's your role in combatting terrorism which comes from
outside Iraq, which is beginning to make the Iraqi street worry about that?
MIN. SUMAIDY: I'm very proud of this popular institution, and I call upon you to
look forward for the next conference, in which I will give you the details.
Q Najim al-Rubaie from Distor. Now you are the minister of Interior and a member
of the Governing Council --
MIN. SUMAIDY: I have given up my membership in the Governing Council.
Q -- I would like to hear your opinion. I ask you, who is responsible about the
security situation in Iraq? Is it the Governing Council or the coalition forces?
And many political and religious elements were ignored, that you didn't bring
them to the political process. These elements revolted against the political
process. Do you think that ignoring the local internal political trends is
behind this situation?
MIN. SUMAIDY: This needs a long analysis, but I can say two things. The
interpretation of this, there are a number of reasons for that. Whatever the
interpretation is, we cannot resort to violence in the situation.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ahab Abuseyh (ph) from Ambash Al-Trawsha (ph). How much
does the Ministry of Interior need to assume the or to take the security file?
And how will be the relation between the Ministry of Interior and the coalition
MIN. SUMAIDY: As I said, we are endeavoring to take the security file, the
entire security file when we assume power. But this is a very big mission, and
we cannot accomplish it completely for many reasons. But we should -- we are
going to perform the greatest part of it, and will continue the mission after
that. This depends on the cooperation of the citizens and the relationship
between the citizens and the internal security forces. It is our intention to
deepen this relationship, and we should be close to the people through the
media. And we want to hear the opinions of the citizens concerning any
suggestions to improve the security situation, and we should give much
Q (Through interpreter.) Last question. Abbas Falhei (ph) from al-Minar. We
congratulate you for this mission. I wish you success to achieve security for
As everybody know that the media and the press is the fourth authority in this
country now. You must assist the media to convey the truth to the people. Two
days ago, one of our colleagues was attacked by a police patrol. There was an
argument between him and the police patrol. They took his phone. And some
parties intervened. Were it not for these parties, he would have been in prison.
The reason why do you report the news of murdering the Iranian ambassador?
MIN. SUMAIDY: I cannot comment on a definite incident because I don't know the
details. But in general, we need the press and the media which convey the truth
in a balanced way and help the people to get acquainted. We should help the
media and the press. It is not -- it's wrong to insult any press or media. I
call on the police to deal with the press and the media as friends and allies.
We want to be close to the people and we want the people to be close to us, and
press and the media is the bridge between us and the people. We need the media,
and the media needs us.
Thank you very much.