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Rym Brahimi: Saddam's tough rhetoric

CNN's Rym Brahimi
CNN's Rym Brahimi

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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In a taped address to mark Iraq's Army Day, Saddam Hussein said U.N. inspectors are spying on Baghdad. (January 6)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declared Monday that his country would emerge victorious in any war with the United States and accused U.N. weapons inspectors of engaging in "intelligence work."

Saddam's comments came in a televised address to mark the 82nd anniversary of Iraq's armed forces.

Reporting from Baghdad, CNN Correspondent Rym Brahimi discussed the speech Monday with CNN Anchor John Vause.

BRAHIMI: ... It was quite a long speech, and there were a lot of quotations from the Koran at the beginning, but then the Iraqi president addressed the current crisis, making several points. One of them [accused] the U.N. weapons inspectors of spying, saying that in the way they were going about their work, they were not clearly into disarming Iraq. ....

Now he also accused the United States of carrying hidden agendas. He referred throughout the entire speech to the United States as the enemy, saying that the U.S. was trying to dominate Iraq, not only just for Iraq's domination and Iraq's resources, but also to try and control the entire region, setting up telecommunications and transport from the Red Sea to the [Persian] Gulf. [He said] that this was not only to secure the United States' interest but also to protect the security of Israel.

And on the other point he made, he said that the U.S. was trying to do this also to divert American and international public opinion from a lot of resentment that may have come from the September 11 attacks, saying that the U.S. had failed its people with the economy, it had failed in Afghanistan, and also that it had reaped a lot of hatred and anger throughout the world for its policies in the Middle East. Clearly [he was] trying to cater [to] a lot of support from not only international public opinion but more specifically from the other Arab countries.

And then finally in what seemed to be a response to a lot of speculation there's been abroad over what the Iraqi army would actually do if there were a U.S.-led attack, the Iraqi president said he was confident that the army would stand firm and protect the nation.

VAUSE: Rym, obviously some tough words there from Saddam Hussein regarding the inspections. How much influence will that have on them, and what are they up to [Monday]?

BRAHIMI: Well, the inspectors are going out and about as always. I'm not sure it would have much influence to be honest. This is really more a speech addressing people, addressing the Arab people, addressing a lot of Muslims in the region, and the world actually. It's really not going to affect the inspectors' work that much.

Now [Monday], they just went about their business as usual. They went to two sites that were known to previous U.N. inspectors; [there was] nothing really new there. ...

But what's interesting is the discrepancy, if you will, between the rhetoric and what's happening on the ground. What we see on the ground when we follow the inspections is a lot of keenness on the part of the Iraqis to cooperate, or at least be seen as cooperating. The Iraqis, of course, say that they're cooperating, and they have been keen, according to what we hear from diplomats as well, to make sure that they will not be providing any pretext for the United States to attack.

So there's on the one hand the very violent rhetoric, if you will, and on the other hand, the actions that seem to be slightly different.

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