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Saddam Gives Defiant Speech - 2001-01-17


Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has given a defiant speech to mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the Gulf War. The Iraqi leader's speech came after a demonstration in Baghdad against the U.S. and British governments.

President Saddam Hussein Wednesday proclaimed victory, saying Iraq has triumphed over the enemies of the nation and the Arab world.

The Iraqi president said he wants all his enemies to know that Iraq is his country and nobody can harm it, even, he said, if that person is an Iraqi. He called the Gulf War a glorious moment in history which disgraced and shamed Iraq's enemies.

Earlier, hundreds of people demonstrated in Baghdad to mark the beginning of the Gulf War, burning flags and chanting slogans against Britain and the United States, which led Operation Desert Storm.

The six-week war ended the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. It also seriously damaged Iraq's economy, destroyed a great deal of its military armament, and killed thousands of people, many of them civilians.

Other Iraqi officials in recent days have echoed their president's defiance. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz Tuesday said Kuwait got what it deserved because it was part of what he called the international conspiracy against Iraq. Earlier, President Hussein's son, parliament member Uday Hussein, urged parliament to change is seal to show Kuwait as a part of Iraq.

Kuwait's speaker of parliament, Jassem Mohammed al-Kharafy, reacted to the speech Wednesday while on an official visit to Egypt. He told VOA it shows that the confrontation between Iraq and Kuwait is not over.

The Kuwaiti official said he does not believe the battle between Iraq and Kuwait will end, because the issue of Kuwait's prisoners of war has not been resolved and because what he called Iraq's aggressive and threatening tone continues.

The anniversary passed quietly in Kuwait and little official notice was taken in other Arab countries. Although many Arab armies participated in Operation Desert Storm, there is growing sentiment in the region that Iraq should be readmitted to the Arab fold and the policy of containment should evolve to one of engagement.

In recent years, Iraq has made progress in ending its isolation in the region and has gained Arab support for ending sanctions imposed following its invasion of Kuwait. Criticism of the sanctions has also increased in other parts of the world, including in Britain and the United States, which are the strongest supporters of maintaining sanctions until Iraq proves it is not seeking to restore its military might.

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