- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

CAIRO Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said in a rare interview that he believed the American and British determination to make war on Iraq could collapse under the weight of anti-war sentiment in the two countries.
"Time is in our favor, and we have to buy more time hoping that the U.S.-British alliance might disintegrate because of the pressure of public opinion on American and British streets," Saddam told the Egyptian weekly Al-Osboa in the interview published yesterday.
"The demonstrations in the Arab and Western world include hundreds of thousands of peace-loving people who are protesting the war and aggression on Iraq," he said, apparently referring to protests in the United States and around the world.
Pointing to Arab public opinion as a force in Iraq's favor, Saddam also appealed to Arab leaders to defend Iraq. Arguing that Washington's goal was to control Mideast oil, he said that after attacking Iraq, U.S. forces could strike at other Arab countries and non-Arab Iran.
Most of Saddam's statements were standard Iraqi rhetoric he blamed "Zionist schemes" for Iraq's troubles and said invading Iraq would not be "a picnic" for American and British forces.
But his references to anti-war demonstrations in the West were the first signal he believed protests could undermine President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the chief advocates of attacking Iraq.
Al-Osboa published two pictures of its reporter Sayed Nassar with Saddam one of the interview and the other of the two shaking hands.
The newspaper said the interview took just over two hours and was conducted at one of Saddam's presidential palaces on the outskirts of Baghdad, with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz present.
Mr. Nassar made the trip from his hotel in Baghdad to the interview in three different government-owned luxury cars, each with curtains over the side windows.
While the United States has said it wants to oust Saddam to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi president maintained in the interview that America's real design is to take control of Middle East oil to serve the interests of its ally, Israel.
"The Arab oil will be under the U.S. control, and the region, especially where oil flows, will be under full American hegemony. All this serves Israel's interest with the aim of turning it to a vast empire in the region," Saddam said.
U.S. officials have consistently argued their goal is not to control Iraq's oil.
Saddam said that Washington's plan was to first attack Baghdad, then other "rebellious Arab capitals" that oppose American control over the region.
"The United States wants to destroy the centers of power in all the Arab homeland, whether these are in Cairo, Damascus or Baghdad," he said.
He said Iran could be attacked, too, and Saudi Arabia undermined, saying Washington wanted to split the Middle East into tiny entities ruled by "guards and watchmen" serving U.S. interests.
Asked why the United States is not targeting North Korea, which has acknowledged it was developing nuclear weapons, Saddam said, "first, because North Korea has no oil and, second, because North Korea is not an enemy to Israel, nor is it near its borders."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide