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Monday, 17 July, 2000, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Saddam tones down rhetoric
Anniversary parade in Baghdad
Anniversary: Iraqi soldiers at Baghdad's Monument of Martyrs
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

The Iraqi president has given what observers describe as a low-key speech to mark the 32nd anniversary of the revolution that brought his Ba'ath Party to power.

In the speech - broadcast live on state television - Saddam Hussein said that under Ba'ath rule the Iraqi nation would achieve victory and evil doers would be defeated.

[Like] the smile of a baby, the prayer of a hermit and rain falling on parched land

Saddam Hussein, on Iraq's 1968 revolution
But he made no direct mention of Iraq's long-running confrontation with the West, or of nearly a decade of United Nations sanctions.

The tone of the address contrasts with the defiance of previous speeches to mark the anniversary of Iraq's 1968 revolution against the monarchy.


Last year, the Iraqi leader praised his people for resisting what he called abortive attempts by successive American administrations to bring them down.

In 1998, he used the occasion to say that international sanctions against Iraq were beginning to crumble and would soon be completely eroded.

This time, almost a decade since his invasion of Kuwait - which led to the embargo - there was no direct reference either to the sanctions, or to the West.

Saddam Hussein
The Iraqi leader spoke live on state television
Dressed in a dark suit and tie and standing in front of an elaborate flower arrangement, Saddam Hussein spoke in abstract, almost philosophical terms.

He said the Ba'ath revolution had been like "the smile of a baby, the prayer of a hermit and rain falling on parched land".


The revolution had transformed Iraq from a wasteland, he added.

But he made no mention of the terrible suffering that 10 years of sanctions have inflicted on his people.

Nor did he refer to Iraq's relations with the UN Security Council.

Baghdad has rejected a UN resolution that could ease sanctions if it allows weapons inspectors back into the country.

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