Latvian official expresses his opinion about the military campaign in Iraq
“Saddam Hussein is a dictator, but he is the president of the sovereign state, he was elected for that position legally. I do not like him, but there are moral rules, which say: never hit a man when he is down,” – Riga mayor’s adviser Alexander Mirsky commented on the war in Iraq.
You have been to a lot of countries of the Middle East, what do you think of the sentiments in the Arab world?
I think that the vast majority of Arabs hate the USA, they are afraid of it too. Such countries as Iran, Iraq, Syria have already released statements like that. I talked to the officers of the Arab Emirate army during my trip to attend sky-diving contest in Saudi Arabia in 2001. They did not conceal that their attitude to the United States was extremely negative. Oil extracting countries depend on America: the US dictates oil and gas prices to them, they become something like an attachment of raw materials to the USA. The paradise that has been built in the Emirates is very fragile, it is based on oil only. Common Arab people hate the USA, they perceive it as a source of danger on account of aggressive actions of the American administration.
What do you think of the Iraqi military power? How long will Baghdad manage to resist?
There are soldiers in Baghdad, but there is no defense technology. T-55 and T-62 tanks are not capable of approaching an American tank in order to shoot it. Iraqi tanks are totally out of date, so their number does not matter. In addition to that, there is no aviation. MiG-21 jets and French Mirage pursuit planes will not be able to fight F-16 or F-14 jets. Everyone has already noticed that there are no air fights in Iraq. The ABM system includes out of date antiaircraft emplacements Strela-1 and Strela-2. These systems are absolutely not efficient, they are good for downing farmer jets only. American troops invaded Iraq with up-to-date weapons of the XXI century. This is not even a war, this is more like beating, since Iraqi servicemen can not strike back. American troops have problems when they reach a settlement that is defended by Iraqi soldiers. Tanks are useless, so are planes, infantry has to move forward, although it leads to casualties. That is why it is so hard for coalition forces to seize major Iraqi cities. Iraqi servicemen wage war on the aggressor, they defend their fatherland, a lot of them are ready to die for it.
What will be the outcome of the war?
Americans will win, they have the military advantage. Iraq has no shots to stand it alone. This is like a fight between a heavyweight boxer and a teenager. This is a bad war, Hussein was ready to disarm the country completely, no one found any weapons of mass destruction there, so what is the point of all of that? Everything is very simple – oil, politics, influence. Why doesn’t George W. Bush make a commotion about Pakistan or India? These countries have weapons of mass destruction. More importantly, their weapons of mass destruction are capable of hitting a target.
Where did you get so much military information?
I am a free-lance instructor of a special unit of the Latvian army (laughs).
The Latvian stand regarding the conflict is rather original.
No, the position of the Latvian government is neither original, nor logic. The cabinet of ministers does not have a common sense about the situation in Iraq. Latvia supports the American administration, which means that Latvia is a companion in crime. Probably, the Latvian prime minister hopes that they will give him a couple of tankers full of oil. They surely won’t. Germany, France, Denmark and Austria might change their opinion about Latvia’s presence in the European Union. By the way, Russia, China and France voted against the war too. Is UN an authority for the Latvian government?
Since you are flying to the USA tonight, will you take part in anti-war demonstrations?
I was invited to come to the States to visit my friends – veterans of the American Gold Kings special military unit. They stand against this war. I believe that one should separate the American government and American people. Americans are against this war, so I hope that the insanity in Iraq will be over soon.
Sergey Tyschenko Vesty Segodnya (Latvian newspaper)
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov