JIM LEHRER: Judy Miller, welcome.
JUDITH MILLER: Hi. How are you, Jim?
JIM LEHRER: Just fine. What's the most important thing to come out of the meeting?
JUDITH MILLER: I think what we've really seen is the Iraqi opposition finally coming into its own. These people understand that this is the endgame, that this is their moment, that they have to make a cogent, coherent statement, they have to have people believe them, and they have to walk a very fine line between asserting their independence, not being America's pawns, and yet still not angering the country to which they're going to owe the liberation of their country.
JIM LEHRER: Have they pretty much accepted the fact that the United States is going to run the country for a while, at least after the removal of Saddam Hussein? Are they accepting that?
JUDITH MILLER: You know, they really haven't accepted it. And I think the message that has come out of here is that, "You don't want to do that, America. You don't want to become the colonial occupiers. You need, from the very beginning, some Iraqi faces to tell other Iraqis who've just been liberated that this is not an occupation."
And they've delivered that message very strongly to Zalmay Khalilzad, who is President Bush's representative who traveled here at great difficulty to kind of reassure the opposition. Now they are telling him privately, not publicly, that America can't go it alone, that the Iraqi opposition has to be there from the beginning.
JIM LEHRER: What was Mr. Khalilzad's reaction to that message?
JUDITH MILLER: Well, he was available to the press yesterday, and today he has kind of been rather unavailable to us. I think it's hard for him, also, to kind of walk this fine line between making clear to the Iraqis that there is going to be a role for them, but that in the beginning many of the major tasks, like security, ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and even the political life in the beginning is going to have to be a kind of American show.
Neither group's mission is easy, neither the American delegation, nor the Iraqi opponents who've come here to kind of really take a stand on Iraqi soil in favor of the liberation of their country.
JIM LEHRER: Is there any doubt among this group that Saddam Hussein's days are, in fact, numbered?
JUDITH MILLER: There really isn't any doubt about that in these corridors. You almost feel the sense of victory here, impending victory. There is great concern about what's going to happen to Iraq and their fellow Iraqis, but, in effect, what's really odd is that the concern of this group is beginning to shift away from Saddam Hussein. His ouster now seems to be a foregone conclusion, and these people are beginning to worry much more what's going on on their northern border with the Turks.
JIM LEHRER: Lay out their concerns about the Turks.
JUDITH MILLER: Well, they know that the Americans want a two-front war against Saddam Hussein, and they know that the Americans want to base American forces out of Turkey. And the Turks, for their part, want to be able to come into northern Iraq to both, they say, prevent the flow of refugees up into their country — and that's what happened the last time; over a million people kind of headed for their corridor — and they also want to have some control over this area, where in the past the PKK, which is a kind of terrorist group, at least according to the American State Department, has staged offenses and acts of terrorism against Turkey. They want a presence here, and that really terrifies the Iraqi opposition.
And it's not just the Kurds who live in this region. Today the Iraqi opposition issued a statement saying that they would all send a delegation to Ankara to talk to the Turks about respecting the sovereignty of this country and its territorial integrity. So this is no longer just a Turkish-Kurdish dispute. Now the Iraqi opposition as a whole has embraced this Kurdish cause and says the sanctity, the territory of Iraq cannot be breached; we must all pull together as Iraqis to make sure that the American liberation does not result in the domination of northern Iraq by Turkey. That's a very strong concern here among the Iraqi opposition figures.
JIM LEHRER: And was that expressed to Mr. Khalilzad?
JUDITH MILLER: This has been expressed to him loud and clear, but he, too, is in a very difficult situation because America knows that the best way to oust Saddam Hussein is probably through a two-front war, that is, one group of people moving in from Kuwait and other countries and another moving in from the north. If America doesn't have those two fronts, it can still prevail according to the military people I have talked to, but it will be harder. Therefore, those Turkish bases are really important, Jim, and they're willing to pay a price for them. What the Iraqi people have said here at this conference is, "Fine, pay a price, but just make sure that it's not our independence and sovereignty."
JIM LEHRER: All right. Judy Miller, thank you very much.
JUDITH MILLER: Thank you. It's my pleasure.