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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Strike Iraq: Eye on Arab World

Aired March 20, 2003 - 05:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we want to add some perspective and some outside perspective to what we're covering about on what's happening on the ground. We want to see what may be happening in the minds of those who are on the sidelines watching this.
Joining us right now is Baria Alamuddin who is a columnist -- chief editor and columnist at Media Services Syndicate (ph). She works for -- writes for Al-Hayat newspapers.

Baria, thank you very much for taking time to talk with us right now. First question that we have this morning...

BARIA ALAMUDDIN, AL-HAYAT: Thank you.

HARRIS: ... is in the wake now of the beginning of this conflict in Iraq, is there any way right now to gauge where most of the minds, I can't say where all of them, but most of the minds of the Arab world might be right now and perhaps where their hearts might be as well?

ALAMUDDIN: Well I must say that mostly it will be concern for the Iraqi people. Are they suffering? Are there going to be many deaths? How are they feeling? How are they, you know, sort of how will they cope with this war? There is not a lot of concern in most of the Arab minds about what will happen to Saddam Hussein. As you can imagine, he's not a person who is very much cherished or loved or, you know, felt with great esteem.

HARRIS: Well is it -- is it likely then that now that this has begun and now that we've heard words coming from Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in recent hours saying that whatever happens in that region is fully the responsibility of Saddam Hussein, is it likely that the headlines and that the talk in the street will actually be more favorable to the U.S. now that this action has actually begun?

ALAMUDDIN: No, I can't imagine them to be favorable to the USA, not yet, at least. I think people are mostly thinking that this is more of an invasion now. This is mostly felt in the Arab countries so far. This, however, could change quickly if the war is quick, if there is no dismantling of Iraq, if the Iraqi people -- I mean if there are not so many deaths amongst the Iraqi people, if indeed the region as a whole doesn't suffer. There's a lot of things to consider here.

And in the Arab world, I must admit, as you said, President Mubarak, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia are not in favor of this war in general. They would have loved to have soldiers staying in them (ph) in a peaceful mean. But now that this has happened, there is a feeling of inevitability which has been in the Arab world for a long time.

What they would like to happen, as I said, is a quick war, very -- not too many casualties. And basically, you know, everybody wouldn't mind getting rid of Saddam Hussein, you know, because they know he's the cause of the problem in general and you know his record speaks for him, I believe.

HARRIS: Understood. Baria Alamuddin, thank you very much for your insight. We hope to talk with you some more about this and other things down the road.

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