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Kuwaiti minister calls Iraq 'failed state'

Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah talked to CNN's Aaron Brown on Monday.
Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah talked to CNN's Aaron Brown on Monday.

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KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (CNN) -- Kuwait's minister of state for foreign affairs on Monday said Iraq is a partitioned "failed state" that cannot be put back together so long as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is in power.

Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah told CNN's Aaron Brown that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein only has firm control over the middle of his country. The north, he said, is ruled by the Kurds. The south is "lawless."

"What we need to do is put the country back together," said Sheikh Mohammed.

He said Iraq "with a proper government" can be a moderating influence in the region, but that if Saddam remains in power there will be "more wars, more bloodshed, more agony for the Iraqi people."

He called Saddam a "serial liar" and said that there is no dealing with the Iraqi leader.

"We have absolutely no illusion about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," he said. "We have no illusions about the intent of Saddam Hussein to use these chemical weapons. We have no illusions that in the event of a war that Saddam is going to use these weapons against us, against Kuwait. This is our primary concern."

The minister said that the other five nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council agree. Kuwait is a member of the loose political and economic alliance, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

"That is why they are sending their boys to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Kuwaiti army," he said. "Nobody would shed a tear if that regime is gone."

Dashed hopes for change from within Iraq

Asked about concerns expressed in some Persian Gulf countries about what changes in Iraq might do to the region's stability, Sheikh Mohammed said a post-Saddam Iraq is a concern not only for the Gulf but for Washington as well.

start quoteNobody would shed a tear if that [Iraqi] regime is gone.end quote
-- Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah, Kuwaiti minister of state for foreign affairs

"We all know how war starts. I don't think there is a person in this world that knows how war ends," he said.

"Honestly, we were hoping for change from inside Iraq," he said, after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

But he said Kuwait had "underestimated the brutality of this regime."

Chances are slim that war with Iraq can be avoided, Sheikh Mohammed said, and the decision rests with Saddam.

"The matter is up to Saddam Hussein. He has the power to save his people from such agony," he said.

If Saddam were to go into exile, the minister said, it would "certainly open a big window and a big opportunity to solve this issue without a war."

Sheikh Mohammed said Kuwait is ready to help its Iraqi neighbors if there is a war. The number of refugees, he said, will depend on what happens.

If there is a chemical attack on Iraqis in the south, he said, refugees could number "in the millions." But if there is a conventional war, he said, "I don't believe there will be a large exodus because it will be a process of liberation and people will be celebrating their freedom."

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