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Defiant Saddam spurns U.S. threats

Saddam Hussein is defying U.S. attempts to oust him from power  

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- President Saddam Hussein has mocked U.S. attempts to end his grip on power.

Hussein, marking the 34th anniversary of the revolution which brought the Ba'ath Party to power, said the U.S. and its allies would never be able to bring his government down.

U.S. President George W. Bush said last week that Washington would make every effort to topple Hussein and has branded Iraq part of an "axis of evil" supporting terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told reporters on Wednesday that President Bush believes a regime like the one in Iraq "is a danger we can't afford to live with indefinitely."

CNN Access: Scott Ritter 
CNN's Rym Brahimi outlines Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent speech in which he proclaims he will not be defeated. (July 17)

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But Hussein defiantly declared in his speech Iraqis were ready to defend their country against any military assault.

Reuters news agency reported him as saying: "Temmuz (July Revolution) returns to say to all evil tyrants and oppressors of the world: 'You will never defeat me this time.'

"Never! Even if you come together from all over the world, and invite all the devils as well, to stand by you.

"Temmuz also returns armed with swords, bow and spear, carrying its shield or gun and cannon... or poised in its battle trench which may, through caution and alertness, save life from schemes, conspiracies, and perfidy, and protect all our dear men."

CNN's Rym Brahimi said the rhetoric had been escalating in both Baghdad and Washington and Hussein used the anniversary speech to send out the message he would not be deposed.

"He vowed in his speech to preserve the independence of the country," she said.

Hussein, who has maintained his vice-like grip on power in Iraq for 23 years, made his speech amid mounting signs the United States is seeking to use its military might to try to oust him.

U.S. seeks help from Turkey

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit on Tuesday that U.S. military action against Iraq is a distinct possibility whether or not Turkey, a major regional ally, supports the move, Turkish foreign ministry sources said.

On Wednesday he said a regime like the one in Iraq "that is hostile to the United States, that supports terrorism, that has weapons of mass destruction and is developing more weapons of mass destruction is a danger we can't afford to live with indefinitely."

"What I think is that there's no question about is that when there is a democratic Iraq -- an Iraq that truly cares for the welfare of its own people -- it won't be only the people of Iraq that benefit from that, it will be the whole world and very much this region.

"Turkey stands to benefit enormously when Iraq becomes a normal country."

Turkish diplomatic sources told CNN's Jerrold Kessel "a sharp difference of opinion" existed between Turkey and the U.S. over the issue.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told Wolfowitz that he believed military action in Iraq would "lead to chaos in the region, would be destabilising, and cost Turkey very dearly in economic terms," Kessel said.

Turkey is already economically fragile, relying on a $16 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Bush signed an order earlier this year directing the CIA to increase support to Iraqi opposition groups and allowing the possible use of the CIA and Special Forces against Iraq's leader.

Wednesday's address came a day after Hussein, in his first newspaper interview in years, said he believed the entire Arab world, rather than just Iraq, is threatened by the United States.

Iraq is under tough U.N. economic sanctions imposed following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

They cannot be lifted unless U.N. inspectors verify it has no weapons of mass destruction, the capability to produce them or the long-range missiles that could deliver them, The Associated Press reported.

U.N. weapons inspectors left the country ahead of U.S. British strikes in December 1998 and Baghdad have barred them from returning since then.

The United Nations has so far failed to persuade Iraq to allow them back and Bush has warned Saddam of unspecified consequences if he does not.

Iraq's parliament voted unanimously on Monday to back military preparations to repel any U.S. attack aimed at toppling the Iraqi government, Reuters said.




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