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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 13:56 GMT
Iraqi people resigned to war
Demonstrators in Baghdad support the Iraqi president
In public, people tend to blame the US for Iraq's plight
Mike Wooldridge

From the UN headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad, inspection teams have been setting off every morning for the past two months, just after 0800 local, destination undisclosed.

Now, after driving for nearly hour out into the countryside, the Unmovic convoys come to an industrial plant.

People are not worried - actually we are accustomed to war

Mosul resident
The guards, some of them armed opened the gates readily to let the inspectors in - the media are being kept out.

Inspection No. 450 is now underway. As inspectors leave, it emerges that this is the ninth visit to a complex that used to produce warheads for missiles Iraq developed in the 80s to reach as far as Tel Aviv and Tehran.

An Iraqi official, Omar Ahmed al-Kojar says inspectors focused on the research centre and its water treatment plant and took away samples.

But what does the plant produce today?

Iraqi guards at a military complex being inspected near Mosul
UN teams resumed work in November after 4 years' absence

"Chemicals and explosives. You know we have here nitric acid and sulphuric acid and so on. It's for our production, you know," he says.

To the north at the military airfield a few miles outside Mosul - Iraq's second biggest city, not far from the borders with Turkey and Syria - a UN team arrived by helicopter and are now carrying out a third inspection of a factory in this vicinity.

Brave face

Mosul is effectively on the front line. It stands potentially in the path of any attack from the direction of Turkey or the Kurdish safe haven nearby.

Already American and British planes patrol the skies above, enforcing the no-fly zone for Iraqi aircraft.

But here in the streets of Mosul, people put a brave face on the fate that could await their country.

"People are not worried - actually we are accustomed to war. It is not the first time, it is not the first time," says one man.

"We don't want war any longer. We just want to live in peace".

In public, people will invariably blame the Americans for the plight Iraq finds itself in.

Strengthening Saddam

However genuinely felt, it is of course a safe line to take in a highly-controlled society like this.

The Americans claim Saddam Hussein's hold may be weakening. But Dennis Halliday formerly one of the leading figures in the UN's Iraq operations, who is here again, takes a different view.

Iraqi protesters burn an effigy of President Bush in Baghdad
Iraq has been under UN sanctions for years

"I think many Iraqis have reservations about the president, about the government in this country. But thanks to Mr Bush and the United Nations, Saddam Hussein enjoys more support in Iraq than he ever has before.

"We are doing exactly what I understand the United States doesn't want to see happen, i.e. make the president of this country stronger".

In the bustling streets of Baghdad and Iraqi's other cities, the war preparations seem to be a long way over the horizon.

The reality, of course, is that everyone here knows they are not.


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27 Jan 03 | Americas
19 Nov 02 | Middle East
11 Oct 02 | Middle East
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
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