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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Iraq remains calm before storm
Prayers in Baghdad
There are no outward signs of panic

Despite last night's air-raids, officials here have been taking heart from the chorus of opposition to America's plans to oust Saddam Hussein by force.

From Nelson Mandela to the World Council of Churches to the Arab League, everyone has been voicing their opposition.

But Iraq is not taking any chances.

Nelson Mandela (left) and Tariq Aziz
Iraq is pressing for international support
It has been continuing a major diplomatic drive to try to stave-off a confrontation.

We have seen several very senior officials, including the foreign minister, the deputy prime minister and the vice-president, touring foreign capitals trying to press Iraq's case.

Their case is that it does not want to be attacked, it does not want a war, but it will not let UN weapons inspectors back into the country except as part of what Tariq Aziz has called a comprehensive settlement - that means that it wants some kind of sign that sanctions would eventually be lifted.

But in the meantime Iraq is preparing its defences.

No panic

Over the past few months thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians have been taught to fire machine-guns.

We understand they have also been given training in hand-to-hand combat - anticipating the possibility of street-to-street fighting if the Americans should try to oust Saddam Hussein.

On the street no-one for the moment appears to be stock-piling food, at least not in any large quantities.

There are no outward signs of panic or preparation, but Iraqis are saying that they are worried, they are much more worried than they have been in the past and they are concerned that if the Americans do attack it will be they who suffer first.


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06 Sep 02 | Politics
05 Sep 02 | Middle East
05 Sep 02 | Europe
05 Sep 02 | Americas
21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
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