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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

British Press Conference From Kuwait

Aired March 30, 2003 - 03:05   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The press conference in Kuwait is starting. Major General Albert Whitley -- let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAJOR GENERAL ALBERT WHITLEY, BRITISH ARMY: What I thought I'd do for you is try and give you some granularity, some explanation of the security situation out in Iraq, to talk about some of the activities that are going on in terms of emergency assistance -- poor choice of words -- but military assistance to the human beings in Iraq, in terms of what is developing en route as the major players -- the aid agencies, the non-government organizations and the international organizations -- come into play.

So the security situation: What is quite clear is that this regime has for many years ruled and controlled its people by fear, and it's perhaps something that we did not fully comprehend. In towns and villages and cities you have a number of organizations -- Baath Party, death squads, state security organizations and the like -- who are manipulating through the use of fear, primarily through the threat of death or by execution, and they're manipulating their own people.

There are encouraging signs. First and foremost, militarily we have found that over the last few days, particularly in the area up to the Euphrates, and it gets more and more blurred the further north you go, but we've found that we can patrol with impunity, and that degree of patrolling varies from location to location, and from within town -- one part of the town to another. In some places it's on foot, and in some places we go in with armor to demonstrate, to hit specific targets, sometimes supported with the precision use of the air and fires.

And we go in to demonstrate that first and foremost that these death squads and Baath Party people are in themselves a target, and secondly to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that we are going to defeat these people and remove them from their fear.

There are further encouraging signs. You all will be aware of the ship, Sir Galahad, going Umm Qasr the other day. We had (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We brought the ship in on a Friday. So the Iraqi dock workers didn't turn up for work. They're there now and they're working.

In the area of Rumaylah, the top-end southern oilfields, shops opened yesterday, schools opened, and oil workers turned up for a meeting asking how they could go back to work within the oilfields. This is not a complete picture. It's just a small snapshot of what we consider to be considerable success in the southern part of Iraq. But it is indicative that if we continue both in terms of the conventional operations towards Baghdad and the slightly more unconventional operations behind V Corps or the spearhead of V Corps (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that success is going to come soon -- excuse me.

The current humanitarian situation in Iraq is a direct result of the refusal of the regime to comply with the whole raft of Security Council resolutions over the past years. It is also a result of the endemic corruption of the regime. Despite Saddam Hussein having said that he's given out a six-month supply of food to his people, it is quite clear that he's purposefully increased the suffering of the people. And for example, those in southern Iraq -- in Basra, Safwan, Rumaylah, Umm Qasr, An-Nasiriya and the like -- would disagree with that statement that he's provided them with six months food.

COOPER: You've been listening to a press conference given by Major General Albert Whitley with the British Army from Kuwait City.

We are going to continue monitoring that press conference, but with what the situation with our embedded reporters is, often when they are able to phone in, when they get their videophone up, we want to go to them as soon as we can, because we donít know how long they'll be in the spot, how long we'll be able to talk to them for.

We are very lucky to have Martin Savidge on the videophone right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.




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