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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 17:09 GMT
Saddam criticises Arab neighbours
Saddam Hussein was as usual front-page news in all the Iraqi papers on Thursday - this time apparently breaking strictures against criticising other Arab states.

Some of our brothers have fed foreign ambitions against us

Saddam Hussein
They carried detailed reports of a speech to Jordanian tribal leaders, broadcast the day before on Iraqi TV, in which the president accused fellow Arab leaders of encouraging aggression against Baghdad.

"Some of our brothers have fed foreign ambitions against us," he declared.

He added that Iraq's neighbours were more concerned about how an attack would affect them domestically than with Iraqis' welfare.

"All they take into account is how the flames in Iraq could be stopped from reaching the others," President Saddam told the gathering.

He was careful to say that he was not criticising his Arab peers - rather, that he was concerned for them.

Since Iraq's rapprochement with its fellow Arab states at the Arab League meeting in Beirut in March, Iraqi media have been expected not to criticise other Arab states.

Babil, published by his son Uday, was not published for much of November and December - reporting critical of Egypt and Jordan was rumoured to be the reason.

Defiance

Aside from the criticisms of his neighbours, President Saddam was as defiant as ever.

He said that Iraqis considered the situation a trial, stressing their "determination to fight any aggression".

Solidarity delegations are flocking to Baghdad

Al-Thawrah
"Given the choice, we do not want to fight," he said.

"But when fighting is imposed on us, we will do so."

The newspapers also stressed foreign support for the Iraqi position.

Al-Thawrah ran an exclusive interview with a former commander in the French navy.

It quotes the retired admiral as saying that a war would have "catastrophic consequences" for global security.

"We will be a human shield for peace in Baghdad and other cities," he said, according to the paper.

A commentary in al-Thawrah takes the same line, declaring that "solidarity delegations are flocking to Baghdad".

Iraqis are very angry and upset, and can no longer bear seeing the inspection teams

Dr Muhsin Khalil in Babil
It adds that the international opposition to the US policy is a "revival led by steadfast Iraq".

'Going too far'

In Babil, a comment picks up on President Saddam's recent Army Day speech accusing the inspectors of going too far.

Dr Muhsin Khalil writes that Iraqis "can no longer bear the inspection teams, after some of their members went beyond the inspection mandate".

He compares Iraq's weapons with those of Israel.

The public was right to ask the state "to defend their right to have weapons possessed by other states", he says.

Al-Iraq, meanwhile, contrasts Washington's treatment of Baghdad with its dealings with Pyongyang.

"It is resorting to dialogue with North Korea because of great pressure by South Korea and Japan... who believe they would pay a heavy price for any reckless US action against Pyongyang."

'Worldwide support'

They all want to cut the umbilical cord between criminal Bush and cursed Blair

Nar Allah Daudi in al-Iraq
The implicit criticism of lukewarm Arab support for Iraq in the president's speech appears to jar with another comment in al-Iraq stating that the UK and US were "weak and isolated at Arab and international levels" over Iraq.

Al-Jumhuriyah reports that US action is opposed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while the English-language Iraq Daily notes Morocco's support.

Casting their net more widely, al-Thawrah and al-Iraq also stress European opposition to US and British policy.

Earlier in the week, a commentary in al-Iraq said that Europe felt US pressure was threatening its interests in the Middle East.

"They all want to cut the umbilical cord between criminal Bush and cursed Blair," wrote Nar Allah Daudi.

Al-Thawrah, meanwhile, has a stern warning for any aggressor.

The ruling party's mouthpiece declares that Iraq "is not Panama, Grenada or Afghanistan".

If President Bush chooses aggression, it says, "his adventure will turn into a deadly quagmire."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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27 Dec 02 | Media reports
24 Nov 02 | Middle East
20 Nov 02 | Middle East
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