CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Mood in Baghdad Somber
Aired March 7, 2003 - 09:41 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: This being Friday, a day of rest for Muslims throughout the world. The mood in Baghdad described by our correspondents and producers there is one of the mix of fatalism that war is probably inevitable. But there is also strong defiance that Iraq will not be a pushover. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is standing by in Baghdad with more -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that defiance is being led by President Saddam Hussein when he is being met with some of his top military commanders. It was a moral-boosting speech. We've heard many of them, but taking on a new tone, if you will, and trying to set you on what he sees to be the latest issue. He said the United States intends -- says it intends to bring its democracy here. He says really it just wants to make the people of Iraq subservient and submit to U.S. policy. He said, what kind of democracy are they really bringing? Iraq already has a democracy. There was a 100 percent vote for the Iraqi leader, for the president himself. They said, don't they respect this type of democracy? And he went on to say that anyone that attacks Iraq will, in the days that they make that attack, in the days after that, they will have many days of regret.
We've heard this sort of talk many times, but when one goes out and talks with people here, and I've just come back, it is the Muslim holy day, as you say, and I've just come back from one of the holiday pastimes here, and that is the racetrack. The people I talk to there at the horse races really saying that, yes, war is inevitable. We see that it's going to happen, but there's nothing we can do about it. We're ready and get on with our lives. We're ready. We'll sit at home. We've got a little extra food, a little extra water. They don't believe that Hans Blix address to the U.N. is going to make any difference to the possibility of war. They see it as inevitably happening.
And when one pushes people here, we hear you say you like the president, yes, you say you support the Iraqi leader. We hear this so often, and whenever we go out, we're with Iraqi officials.
But when it comes down to it, people say, if there is an invader coming to my country, I will stand in my home and I will fight to defend my home. These are invaders coming into my country, and this is what people tell us, they'll get on with their lives, but when war comes, they say, that they'll be ready to defend, if not the country, at least their own property -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How much exposure, Nic, have the Iraqi people received so far, if any, to the president's news conference last night? I know that there were no newspapers, yet, it was after the deadline. But what about radio and television? Have they, at all, reported anything that President Bush said?
ROBERTSON: On Iraqi Radio and television, it hasn't been played. On some of the international radio broadcast that people can pick up here, and many of the people that would listen to that might be part of what one would see as the sort of intellectual part of the community. Many people have read President Bush's address on what they've heard of it as essentially the United States is going to go to war with Iraq come what may. This is something people say they felt has been coming for sometime. They say that the United States has only been using resolution 1441 to perpetrate an active aggression against Iraq, and we've heard many times the reasons people believe that. They believe the United States is coming here to try and take control of the region and take control of Iraq's oil well. These are views that really don't seem to be changing. What is coalescing is, I think, people I think are beginning to believe the immediacy that the war could come very soon, that it could come now very soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Baghdad. Nic, thanks very much.
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