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 Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 16:32 GMT
Iraqis resigned to war
Baghdad market
Most Iraqis are too busy trying to survive

Iraq's long awaited weapons declaration is on its way to New York, and Iraqi officials and scientists can sit back and relax a bit.

The 12,000 pages they have sent to the United Nations Security Council will take days if not weeks to be analysed.

If there is war, well then, there'll be a war, we've seen it all before

Man at a Baghdad market
The declaration will most likely not be an immediate trigger for war.

The Iraqis have often been accused of using delaying tactics to buy time and defer a war, which many Iraqis believe has become inevitable.

"If there is no war it will be a miracle," said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz this week.

Iraqi officials have often repeated that, although they do not want war, they will fight back if attacked.

"We are the only government that distributes guns to its people," said Mr Aziz.

Resignation

These guns, Mr Aziz is convinced, will be used against the Americans when they attack. The Iraqi people, according to him, will remain loyal to their leadership.

UN car in Iraq
Many people are unaware of the inspectors' presence
Ordinary Iraqis waver between optimism and pessimism, but feel mostly resignation.

"If there is war, well then, there'll be a war, we've seen it all before," said one man at the Shorja market in central Baghdad.

Iraqis have indeed been through several wars, bombing campaigns and 12 years of sanctions.

Most of them are too busy surviving to pay too much attention to the news, and few people here were aware that Iraq was handing over that all-important declaration to the UN.

Although the inspections have received coverage in the Iraqi media, not all Iraqis are paying close attention.

"Let the inspectors come, we don't mind," said one woman who did not wish to be identified.

When told that the inspectors were already here, she said: "Oh, well then let them continue their work, we don't mind."

Forlorn hope?

Many Iraqis, relieved that their country had agreed to abide by UN resolution, were hoping that the resumption of inspections would start a process with light at the end of the tunnel.

"The inspectors will find nothing here, if they do their work professionally maybe the sanctions will finally be lifted," said Ali Ahmed, who was enjoying the Eid holiday at a funfair over the weekend.

But with the inspectors coming under fire from both the Americans and the Iraqis, it does not look as if this process is under way.

The US wants more inspections and a more aggressive approach, while the Iraqis have already said the inspectors are too intrusive.

With Iraq maintaining that it does not have weapons of mass destruction and the US saying it has conclusive evidence that Iraq does have such weapons, the stand-off continues with the Iraqi people caught in the middle.


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