- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2003

From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD A defiant Saddam Hussein proclaimed yesterday that Iraq is ready for war with the United States and warned that his enemies would face "suicide" at the gates of Baghdad.
With a second Persian Gulf war looming, a defiant Saddam used the 12th anniversary of the first conflict to tell the world he would defend Baghdad against the United States despite reports that Arab leaders were trying to persuade him to choose exile instead.
In a 40-minute televised address, Saddam said his nation was fully mobilized and called on Iraqis to "hold your swords and guns up high" as a warning to those "who might be under the illusion" that Iraq "will not stand firm."
"The people of Baghdad have resolved to compel the Mongols of this age to commit suicide on its walls," Saddam said, comparing the Americans with the Asian warriors who destroyed the city more than 800 years ago. "Everyone who tries to climb over its walls … will fail in his attempt."
Without using President Bush's name, Saddam compared him to the Mongol general Hologu, grandson of Genghis Khan, who captured Baghdad in 1258.
Baghdad's ruler at the time surrendered in exchange for his life and that of his family but Hologu reneged on the deal and executed him.
As Saddam finished his speech, several thousand Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad to voice support for the president.
The United States and Britain are marshaling a large military force in the Persian Gulf to back up their warnings against Saddam to give up weapons of mass destruction or face attack. Iraq claims it has no such weapons.
A U.N. team searching bunkers Thursday in southern Iraq found 12 empty rocket warheads that could be used to carry chemical agents. Iraq claims the warheads are old and had been reported to the United Nations. Saddam made no mention of the discovery in his speech.
Yesterday, the inspectors visited military-industry sites in the Faluga area west of Baghdad, a farm near Juwesma, southwest of the capital, and a farm and ice factory 30 miles outside Baghdad, the inspectors said.
French President Jacques Chirac said that any unilateral action against Iraq would break international law. He said it was up to the U.N. Security Council to decide on the inspectors' progress report, due to be presented on Jan. 27.
But Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told a German daily Washington believed that by the end of January there would be "a persuasive case" that Iraq was not cooperating with the inspectors.
German Defense Minister Peter Struck said yesterday his country which joined the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 1 and chairs it in February is unlikely to back any U.N. resolution to authorize war. "A 'yes' is basically not imaginable anymore," he told the Rheinpfalz newspaper.
On the diplomatic front, U.S. defense officials said they were closer to agreement with Ankara on deploying U.S. troops in Turkey for a likely war in Iraq. Turkey's president earlier said his country could only make a limited contribution to any such war.
In neighboring Syria, Saddam's special envoy began a regional tour with talks with President Bashar Assad.
Arab officials said reports floated in the media and diplomatic circles that Saddam might step down were part of a U.S.-led campaign of psychological warfare to undermine Saddam's will to fight and encourage a coup d'etat against him.


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