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Saddam Says Efforts to Topple His Government Will Fail - 2002-08-08

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein says he is not frightened by any effort to topple his government, instead promising victory. However, in a nationally televised speech, he indicated he is interested in seeking peaceful dialogue.

The Iraqi leader called on all Arabs to repel any aggressor, and he said that "anyone who attacks Iraq will die in disgraceful failure."

He said, "the evil people would carry their coffins on their backs so that they die because of the agony of their failure."

However, in his speech marking the 14th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein also called for "peaceful dialogue based on international law and international resolutions."

He asked that the United Nations Security Council "honor its obligations under its own resolutions," referring to sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 when it invaded Kuwait. The United Nations says the sanctions can be lifted when Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and met other requirements. Iraq has long said it has fulfilled those conditions.

The Iraqi leader's speech follows offers this week to the U.S. Congress to send a fact-finding team to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction and an invitation to the chief U.N. arms inspector to begin discussions aimed at resuming weapons inspections in Iraq.

Middle East analysts say the Iraqi leader's speech was aimed at gaining regional support.

Abdel Moneim Said, the head of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, says Saddam Hussein's speech was "an extension of recent efforts to avoid a military strike and was aimed at trying to win the war through diplomacy."

"We have to remember that it was preceded by his call on U.N. inspectors to come to Baghdad in order to decide what they will do with the inspections," he explained. "At the same time, sending his foreign minister to Jordan to meet with the foreign minister of Turkey, at the same time Iraq has been trying to be conciliatory toward Kuwait and other Arab countries. So now it seems to me that Saddam Hussein is trying to bend his head for the win."

Hassan Nafae, director of the political science department at Cairo University, says Saddam Hussein's speech "was aimed at generating regional and international support against a military attack."

"They don't want to give any excuse at all to the American administration to strike Iraq. They do understand now that it is very serious and they have to win as much political support as they can, not only international support from the European community, Russia, China, but especially and mainly from the whole Arab countries," he said.

Arab leaders are adamantly opposed to a U.S. led military strike and key U.S. allies have been urging the United States to seek a diplomatic resolution rather than a military effort to oust the government in Baghdad.