September 19, 2007
Contact:
Emily Hellewell, NPR
   

MAJOR GENERAL WALTER E. GASKIN
DISCUSSES THE FUTURE OF IRAQ
AFTER THE DEATH OF SHEIKH SATTAR
ON NPR NEWS NEWS & NOTES
TOMORROW, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

GASKIN SAYS THE POSSIBILITY OF CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ
IS “LUDICROUS”

EXCERPT BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT WWW.NPR.ORG


September 19, 2007; Washington, D.C. – In an interview with Farai Chideya, airing tomorrow on NPR's News & Notes, Major General Walter E. Gaskin, commander of the Multi-National Force West in Iraq, says “as tragic as the death of Sheikh Sattar that we have seen nothing that indicates that his movement and the awakening for the Sawah Allah Iraq will fragment or be broken. Matter of fact, the evidence I’m seeing is that the Iraqis as well as the tribal leaders are more intent on fighting al Qaeda and prolonging and using his death as a means for getting on with the business of ridding their country of al Qaeda.”

On the possibility of civil war in Iraq once coalition forces leave, Maj. Gen. Gaskin says: “They are not fighting for me or the coalition forces; what they’re fighting for is their own country. The idea that they are somehow going to return to the fighting among themselves is ludicrous. They have a purpose and that purpose is to reclaim their country.”

Maj. Gen. Gaskin on how being an African American has helped him reach out to the different ethnicities in Iraq: “I think when we said that we learn cultural experiences in order to better understand the Iraqis, having had a cultural experience myself, having been in a minority, having had the chance to really realize that you are a leader of all regardless of color, background, and being able to talk to the Iraqis just with the proper respect and dignity based on who they are instead of where they are, where they live, and what their circumstances are, I think that experience has helped me well. And I fully understand it.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News News & Notes. Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be made available at www.NPR.org at approximately 4 PM (ET) on Thursday, September 20. For a complete transcript of interview, contact information is below.

News & Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya from the NPR West studios in Culver City, Calif., is heard by nearly 700,000 listeners each week and explores fascinating issues and people from an African American perspective. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations