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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 21:32 GMT
Saddam briefs his generals
Training of female Iraqi soldiers
Saddam says everyone will fight

Iraq's leader has warned those who attack the country that they will face successive lines of trenches before they are "crushed totally".

President Saddam Hussein said the Americans were making a mistake if they thought Iraq would respond in a disorganised and untargeted way to any attack.

In the daytime all eyes discover you

Saddam Hussein's advice to Iraqi army raiding parties
He was speaking at a meeting with army commanders - with the reported focus on training and preparations for a potential war.

One commander said his unit had trained walking fully equipped and had succeeded in covering nearly 50 miles in only 17 hours with two hours rest.

The Iraqi president said this was not enough.

Iraqi soldier
Saddam is putting his faith in trench warfare again
They would have to increase their speed because they could be asked to infiltrate enemy lines on foot at a specific place and would need to return the same night.

"In the daytime," he was quoted as saying, "all eyes discover you."

He also spoke of training being given to all Iraqis - from "shepherds in the desert" to farmers - in dealing with any soldiers who were airdropped on Iraqi territory.

"I am not afraid of announcing all our plans on TV," the president said.

"My aim is to rid ourselves of the horrors of their evil intentions."

'Not Afghanistan'

But if the Americans are not unnerved and do lead an attack on Iraq at some stage, the warning the Iraqi leader is giving them at his heavily publicised sessions with military and party leaders is that "Iraq is not Afghanistan".

He has dismissed the idea that the Americans and their allies would be able to engage in battle in Iraq without, he claims, meeting the stiffest of resistance and suffering significant casualties.

US combat troops in Afghanistan this week
US casualties in Afghanistan have been negligible
At the latest meeting, he added another ingredient.

He said that during the Gulf War in 1991 the US-led coalition had destroyed factories and bridges and other buildings but "they failed to destroy the Iraqi will, their faith and their brains".

Everything had been rebuilt.

And he maintained that American influence was weaker now than it was at the time of the Gulf War.

He said Americans used to walk freely in the world - and now they could not do so.

Hardly a buckling before the Bush administration.

Volunteers

And in public, the Iraqi people tend to take their cue from such speeches and suggest similarly that an American-led attack could get bloodily bogged down.

Today in Saddam City, a sprawling poorer district on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, one retired resident thumped the air with his fist as he said he had asked the authorities for extra weapons for himself and his sons in case there was a war.

"So that we can properly defend our houses and our country," he said.

I asked him whether they were following the news of the crisis closely.

"We listen to the good news but not the bad," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
President George W Bush
"Tony Blair is a friend of the American people"
The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"Even in the midst of such dangerous times life must go on"
Gustavo De Aristegui of Spain's governing party:
"Acting firmly against Iraq is the shortest way to peace"

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See also:

24 Jan 03 | Middle East
10 Jan 03 | Middle East
07 Sep 02 | Middle East
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