What If Iraqis Chose Anti-American Leaders?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Dec. 9, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, there is an insurgency that is a difficult one and that is raging. That's why we're increasing the number of troops we're going to have during this election period.

We're going to do everything we can to create conditions throughout the country so people can vote.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Secretary of State Colin Powell (search). Democracy is coming to Iraq, anything better than Saddam, but what if Iraqis choose leaders who are anti-American, or who have a different idea than we do about what's best for Iraq's future? Is it even our business anymore?

I'm joined now by freelance journalist Bartle Bull (search), who has spent some time over there.

So, does that seem to be likely that democracy will result in an anti-American government in Baghdad?

BARTLE BULL, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Yes, I don't think that the Shias like us very much. I'm not sure though, that we went in there to set up a puppet government. I think that the great result will be that this will give a legitimate government to Iraq. We'll have this new Shia front, that's been this party, that's been announced. It's going to probably get 60 percent of the vote.

GIBSON: This is big news today: a grand alliance among the Shias putting up 230 candidates, I believe, in some grand political alliance. So, who's in this Shia alliance? Does it include Sadr, the guy, Muqtada, that gave us all this trouble?

BULL: It does include him. It also includes Ahmad Chalabi's group, the INC. It includes also the two biggest of the old Shia opposition parties that still have quite a lot of prestige from the days when they stood up to Saddam. Although, it's really Muqtada al-Sadr (search), the young firebrand...

GIBSON: OK. Now, the idea here is — I mean, I think from the American point of view, correct me if I'm wrong — the idea is, "Well, OK. The Shias have got a big political alliance: 230 candidates out there, they look like they're going to win. This is supposed to be impetus to the Sunnis to get involved in the political process and stop shooting. Right?

BULL: Yes. And I think to an extent, that's happened. Tomorrow is the final official due date for the submission by parties of their lists. So that's when we'll know for sure who's running. But they've almost all already submitted their lists. There's only one or two outstanding. And most of the big Sunni groups are already included. They've already thrown their hat in the ring.

GIBSON: A quick question before we end it: is there a chance that Zarqawi gets elected? I don't mean himself, but people representing him?

BULL: No, I don't think there's any chance at all. They're really very unpopular, those guys. They've caused a lot of trouble for their fellow Iraqis. He's not Iraqi, of course, he's Jordanian.

GIBSON: That is good.

Freelance journalist, Bartle Bull. Spent a lot of time over there. Mr. Bull, it's always good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

BULL: Thank you. Good to be back.

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