Alhurra Television’s correspondent Raed Fakih conducted an in-depth interview with the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the Alhurra program Al Youm. Mr. Rumsfeld discussed the Arab uprising, the Syrian regime crackdown of protesters and the death of Osama bin Laden. The following are some excerpts of Donald Rumsfeld’s interview. Another part of the interview that addressed the terrorist attacks on September 11th will be aired during Alhurra’s special coverage commemorating the tragic event.
Rumsfeld on the Arab Revolutions
“Well, we’ve got of course a lot of friends in the region. The United States has and has had very good relationships with most of the countries. What is happening there, I think, is a reflection of the fact that we are into the information age, the 21st century. And there are a lot of people, young people, young men frequently in those countries that go and look on television and see Twitter and Facebok and they realize that other countries have more opportunities. There are more jobs, there is more dynamism and creativity going on in other countries, and they want something better for themselves. My impression is that a lot of countries in that region have been too slow in moving towards freer economic systems and freer political systems. Not that they ought to have a government like ours or like Western Europe. They are going to have governments that fit them…It would be wonderful if the kinds of opportunities we have here and the existing ones in Western Europe, in many countries that have free political and free economic systems, if those opportunities were available to more people, I think there would be fewer of these revolts and revolutions that are taking place.”
Rumsfeld on the fear of instability in the Middle East due to revolutions
“I think any rational person looking at what is going on in that part of the world knows that we don’t know how it is going to come out. You have people that are looking for free economic opportunities. There are people worried of having a greater freedom politically. You have people, radical Islamists that are determined to take over those countries and turn them into governments and systems that fit their models of what they would like. Who is going to win in all of that? We do not know. We know you could have a Cedar revolution in Lebanon and have it end up with Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, providing the leadership in Lebanon. You could have energy and revolution in Iran, a proud country and an important country historically, and end up with a handful of Ayatollahs running that country. So, you can’t predict when that kind of uprising is taking place, how it is going to turn out. We don’t know about what is going to happen in Libya, for example.”
Rumsfeld on the Syrian Regime’s crackdown of protesters
“I think that they have had demonstrated thus far that they are willing to very brutally put down an uprising and I think the people around the current leadership are beneficiaries of the current government and they will be very slow to adjust and allow a freer political system and a freer economic system. They are very satisfied of the iron grip they have on the country. I suspect that it will be very difficult to change them.”
Whether Rumsfeld was surprised that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan
“No, I wasn’t surprised at all. I was pretty sure that he wasn’t in Afghanistan. Pakistan was logical. He has a lot of support in Pakistan, Al Qaeda did and the Taliban.”
Rumsfeld on whether the death of bin Laden will make a change in Al Qaeda
“Sure, bin Laden was the face of terror, the face of Al Qaeda. He was important in recruiting, fundraising and planning. He will be replaced to be sure by some body, but it would be different and the people involved who succeed him will know that they are better to be very careful, because there will be people looking for them”
Rumsfeld on the whether the Pakistani government had knowledge of the presence of bin Laden
“I don’t know that they did not know. But if you think about it, the worst thing he would have done is to tell someone in Pakistan where he was… his best interest was not telling anybody.”
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