Jon Stewart's guest on the 2014-06-19 episode of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was Hamid al-Bayati, who served as Iraq's permanent respresentative to the U.N. from 2006 to 2013. They talked about recent events in Iraq. Embedded video and transcript of the broadcast segment, and links to the extended interview on the Comedy Central website, after the fold.
Jon Stewart: My guest tonight was the permanent representative of Iraq to the United Nations from 2006 to 2013. Please welcome Hamid al-Bayati.
How are you doing? Have a seat. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for joining us. We very much appreciate your being here because on American television there are a lot of talking heads saying what's going on in Iraq, but we don't — boy, I don't know how to put this — know that much about it. You perhaps might know more. So, what happened?? What's going on there right now?
Hamid al-Bayati: Jon, definitely I know more than most of the Americans. [audience laughs]
Stewart: That kind of goes without saying. I figured that. So hit me: what happened?
al-Bayati: The Iraq I was born in and grown up in is the Iraq of unity. People — the majority of people — love to live in peace and harmony, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, [inaudible] they lived for centuries. However, there are minority who are extremist [or "a minority, far extremist,"], unfortunately do high noises, louder noises, and the media pick up these noises and make it bigger. Now, there is a fact that there is a spillover from instability in Syria. ISIS is al Qa'eda in Iraq and Syria, in the beginning. Then al Qa'eda consider them too extreme and they —
Stewart: Al Qa'eda considers this ISIS group —
al-Bayati: — too extreme for them. Imagine, you know.
Stewart: So, al Qa'eda, the group responsible for 9/11, they see these guys and go, Nah, I can't work with them.
al-Bayati: Exactly. They are too much. So now we are facing this group who are brutal. United Nations report that they are committing war crimes, they execute thousands of people, including civilians, in Mosul and other areas.
Stewart: But let me ask you: so, the reports that we get is [sic] — we leave Iraq, everybody says Iraq is ready, [from the perspective of a hypothetical Iraqi:] "We're going to take over the security and governance of this nation [of Iraq]." You were there during that time; you felt good about that arrangement, everybody felt good. These guys [ISIS] roll in and the Iraqi army seems to disperse, and they take over this area in Mosul, and the local people — because it seems like they've now joined up with the original Ba'athists from Saddam's old group, and they seem to be allied now. Is that what's happened?
al-Bayati: Yes, not only ISIS. ISIS is 5, to 6,000 personnel —
Stewart: Five to six thousand? Seriously? That's it?
al-Bayati: The highest estimation is 10,000. However, the Ba'ath Party members headed, or led by Izzat al-Douri [عزة ابراهيم الدوري], who was vice president for Saddam, the insurgency group like Naqshbandi group [جيش رجال الطريقة النقشبندية] and other groups are joining.
Stewart: So this is similar to what had occurred in the Anbar Province —
Stewart: — in 2006, 2007?
al-Bayati: Yeah, exactly. But the most important thing that the Iraqi army was not well equipped. We asked for, for example, jet fighters. We didn't receive them yet. The Congress approved F-16's since many years, we haven't received them. Now, we ask — this is why the Iraqi government officially request an air strike by American forces. Now, President Obama announced today [2014-06-19] that they would take certain targets, precise attacks, whenever they feel it's important. I think it is important that we gather together to fight this extreme group, because they are like a cancer.
Stewart: So, you would like us to join the fight?
al-Bayati: I said this is the Iraqi government's request —
Stewart: The Iraqi government would like us to join the fight?
al-Bayati: Yes. They request American air strikes, not to send troops, ground troops. That's a difference between — only Americans and drones in Yemen, in Pakistan, in other areas.
Stewart: This is what — You would like our drone program. We have many different packages. What would you like? So, let me see: let me get your order right.
Stewart: The Americans would — you know, I feel like we're in a very strange position, in that we did destabilize you —
al-Bayati: Thank you.
Stewart: You're welcome. [audience laughs] I think Americans feel like we had spent an awful lot of money, a lot of blood, for reasons that — you know, we can fight about whether or not it was right to go in or not [sic], but that maybe we do have a moral obligation to the Iraqi people after doing that, but our ability to withstand sort of being the fabric that holds the country together from these sectarian violence issues and these extremist violence issues, is not a tenable position for us to be in.
al-Bayati: Well, there is an imporant factor: that Abu Musad al-Zarqawi [أبومصعب الزرقاوي] — and by the way —
Stewart: Zarqawi was the old leader of the group, the Jordanian that was killed a while ago.
al-Bayati: Yes, exactly. ISIS originally was part of Zarqawi's group, who was separate than al Qa'eda. Zarqawi wrote a letter to Osama bin Laden when he announced allegiance to him, saying that if the Iraqi government gets any stronger and controls the situation, we will have no option but to pack and leave, as we did in Afghanistan, and the only solution is to bring sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi'a. This is why they —
Stewart: So they're fomenting this war? They want this larger sectarian war.
al-Bayati: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [أبو بكر البغدادي], whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri [ابراهيم عواد ابراهيم علي البدري], his side to play that sectarian problem.
Stewart: He wants to foment this war. Well, let's do this: let's take a break. Can you stick around for a little bit? Because what I want to talk about when we come back is, would he be able to inflame that sectarian war if the Maliki government had been more open to power-sharing with the Sunni minority, and has that played a role in this; so when we come back, we'll talk a little bit more about that. A lot more with Hamid al-Bayadi after this. So [fades out]
Links to the extended interview:
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