White House dismisses Saddam speech
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's defiant speech to his nation Thursday didn't appear to faze the Bush administration, with a senior aide saying, "We've all seen it before."
The Bush aide, who asked not to be identified, said, "The regime in Baghdad knows what it has to do. It must live up to its obligations to disarm that it agreed to in 1991." (Full story)
Those U.N. obligations, agreed to at the end of the Persian Gulf War, called for Iraq to rid the country of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
In a nationally televised speech, Hussein said a U.S. attack on Iraq would be "doomed to failure."
In the speech -- marking Great Victory Day -- the 14th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Hussein said Western threats didn't frighten him and that his country was ready to repel any attack.
Wearing a civilian gray suit, Hussein criticized what he called the "arrogance and greed" of his potential aggressors.
Using quasi-prophetic language, he predicted oppressors who seek to commit "a heinous act" would "fall to hell," adding that Allah would always help "a just cause prevail over injustice."
Leaving an option open for the United States, he urged potential attackers to "think again." But he warned that any nation that struck Iraq would be "consigned to the dustbin of history."
"All empires and bearers of the coffin of evil have found themselves buried in their own coffins with their sick dreams when they have sought to harm Arab and Muslim nations," the Iraqi leader said in the 22-minute taped speech carried on state television.
"This inevitable outcome awaits all those who try to attack the Arabs and Muslims."
In his speech, Hussein did not mention the United States and Britain by name but referred to them as the "forces of evil" -- a phrase the Baghdad government frequently uses after U.S. and British airstrikes in the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq.
Anti-Iraq coalition forces established the no-fly zones to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south after the Persian Gulf War.
The United States and Britain say the United Nations has granted them authority to enforce the no-fly zones. Iraq does not recognize the zones.
"There is no other choice for those who use threat and aggression but to be repelled even if they were to bring harm to their targets," Hussein said.
The Iraqi people as well as their leaders appear convinced a U.S. strike is inevitable.
Last week, the United States rejected an offer to allow the chief U.N. arms inspector into the Iraqi capital for technical talks, and the White House continues to insist it wants a change in regime.
The Iraqis are working through diplomatic channels to mobilize opposition to the United States, with ruling Ba'ath party members being asked to reach out to international groups to try to promote some sort of dialogue.
In his speech, Hussein called on the U.N. Security Council to answer a series of queries the Baghdad government has posed.
"The right way is that the Security Council should reply to the questions raised by Iraq and should honor its obligations under its own resolutions," Hussein said, referring to U.N. motions that sanctions on Iraq -- imposed since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait -- be lifted once it eliminated weapons of mass destruction and met other obligations.
Iraq has maintained it has fulfilled those conditions and that the sanctions should be lifted.
WORLD TOP STORIES:
Blix: 'Iraq could do more'
N. Korea warns of nuclear conflict
Serb hardliner refuses to plead
NASA: Flight-deck video found
Caracas tense after bombs
|Back to the top|