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Saudis Show Mixed Reaction to Saddam Arrest - 2003-12-15

There is no official reaction yet in Saudi Arabia, but the news of Saddam Hussein's capture met with mixed emotions in the capital, Riyadh.

A member of Saudi Arabia's parliament, the Majlis ash Shura, says cell phones started buzzing during the day's session and members started passing notes to each other as they received word of Saddam Hussein's capture.

Abdulmohsen al Akkas told VOA by phone it is a wonderful moment for the Iraqi people. But he says Iraq is still, as he puts it, not at peace with itself and he stressed the need for a functioning government soon that is acceptable to the Iraqi people.

University professor Khalil al Khalil says he had to stop class because his cell phone kept ringing with students and friends passing on the news. He says his students left class to watch TV and listen to the radio for more details.

Elsewhere here in Riyadh, reaction was mixed.

Lebanese businessman Rabiah al Amine says it's good news for Iraq but he does not expect the attacks against U.S. forces there to stop.

"In a way it's good news for everybody, for America, for Iraq and the Arabs, but from the other hand I don't think it will change a lot in Iraq because I don't think Saddam had too much [to do] with what is happening now," said Mr. Amine.

Saudi computer trainer Ali Zahrani says he was surprised and upset.

"I don't like Saddam," he said. "I think he's wrong, okay. But he's better than Americans. At least he is Muslim, he is Arabic." Mr. Zahrani says he opposed the U.S. led war to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

Businessman Abdulrahman al Zamil says he can understand some of the negative reactions to Saddam's capture by American occupation forces.

"There are a lot of people who look at this thing comparing American behavior vis a vis the Arabs and the Muslims in general," he explained. "So they don't accept anything from Americans. They are mad because Americans captured him. If Iraqis would have captured him it would have been different."

Mr. Zamil a member of the Saudi parliament says he welcomes the capture of Saddam Hussein as a psychological victory for Iraqis who, he says, can now concentrate on their future without fear of Saddam's return to power.