About Us






Saturday, March 22, 2003
MEMRI: The Arab Press on the War and News from Iraqi Television

Visit www.memri.org to view our new MEMRI News Ticker for up-to-the-minute
information on Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Special Dispatch - Iraq
March 21, 2003
No. 484

The Arab Press on the War and News from Iraqi Television

The Arab press continues to publish reports and analyses on the war in Iraq.
While many of the editorials are stridently anti-war and anti-American,
there is little support for Saddam Hussein and his regime. On the contrary,
many commentators blame Saddam and his government for policies that led to
his current predicament. The following are excerpts from various Arab
newspapers on this topic:

Editorials in the London Arab Dailies

The political analyst of the London-based Saudi daily, Al-Hayat, writing
under the heading "Saddam Hussein's Speech against George Bush's," maintains
that Saddam's speech is the best propaganda for the American war objectives.
"Is it conceivable," he says, "that 22 million Iraqis are ruled by a
mentality of the kind reflected in the speech?!"

"The ruler of Baghdad... has completed his total detachment from reality...
He is ruled by narcissism which prompts him to read poetry to the world and
to the Iraqi people! Osama bin Laden is also a pioneer in the use of poetry
to deliver political messages... The danger for the Iraqi president lies in
his attempt to restore the popularity he lost to Bin Laden in the last two

"In his own way, the Iraqi president attempted to [kill] a number of birds
with one stone. First, he appealed to the Muslim sentiments. He opened with
[a statement] on Islamic history and concluded with nervously repeating
'Allah Akbar.' Second, he addressed the sensitive Palestinian issue... and
concluded, after denouncing Zionism, with a call for the rise of Palestine
side by side with Jihad and Iraq. Third, he obviously tried to revive Iraqi
nationalism and to present it as an extended family or as an 'Iraqi family.'
Finally, he did not forget the public opinion in the West and the world and
spoke of the 'causes of evil in the world.'"

"It is known that the Iraqi president is prepared to [adopt any ideology as
his own]... Saddam, who is assumed to be a Pan-Arab[ist] and secular, turns
into an Islamist the moment he believes he can benefit from it."

"Prior to the Iraqi president's speech, and immediately prior to the
military operations, we heard the speech of President George Bush who
promised 'to liberate the Iraqi people.' The evangelism of 'Iraq's
liberation'... has historically unprecedented jaws of technology and
converted Saddam's sword into a reason [to have mercy on him] rather than
anger. What a distance had Bush gone to arouse mercy on Saddam!"(1)

On the pro-Iraqi end, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based, Al-Quds
Al-Arabi, incites against the Arab regimes in a series of articles which he
has published since the beginning of the war.

Writing under the title "Unjust and Immoral War," Atwan talks of a senior
Iraqi official who told him: "We have disappointed you in 1991 for failing
to rise to the level of fighting that you expected [of us] but we will make
you proud this time because we know our enemy well, because we rely on
ourselves and not on Arab brethrens. We have taken into consideration that
the vast majority of the Arab regimes will stand in the enemy's trenches."

"President Husni Mubarak, the president of a country which led all the Arab
wars and sacrificed hundreds of thousands of martyrs, says that he has done
all he could to save Iraq and he was comfortable in his conscience. We ask
President Mubarak to remind us of his efforts. Has he sent planes, tanks and
soldiers to defend Baghdad without us knowing?"

"We wish to know what goes on in the minds of the Arab leaders as they watch
the American forces defile the Iraqi land and their missiles harvest the
souls of its sons. Do they feel a guilty conscious? We don't believe so
because the national conscious of these [leaders] had died and they can
sleep peacefully."(2)

The following day, Atwan wrote under the heading "Baghdad Burns But There Is
No Savior": "I ask what the heroic Egyptian army, and we ask what the Syrian
officers and soldiers are doing these days, and we inquire about the Saudi
armed forces and the billions spent on their equipment with the most modern
tanks and planes. If these Arab armies do not move to defend a brotherly
country and a people facing death by fire, when would they [move]?"

"Silence means collaboration [with the enemies], and the increase in the oil
production in order to lower prices is more dangerous than participation in
military operations. They have refused to use the oil in the service of the
Arab causes. They said that oil is a commodity and its revenues are required
to serve the growth plans. But [in fact] they use it to serve American
aggression against Iraq."

"We are not asking the kingdom of Abd Al-Aziz to suspend the export of oil
as King Faysal had done in 1973 in solidarity with Egypt and Syria in the
1973 war. But we are asking it not to increase its oil production by 1.2
million barrels [a day] as it is happening now to reduce price and support
American aggression."(3)

From the Egyptian Press

Editorials in the Egyptian and Saudi official newspapers emphasized the
war's 'lack of legitimacy.' However, following clashes between demonstrators
and security forces on the streets of Cairo, they underscored the importance
of maintaining the unity of the "national front."

Galal Duweidar, the editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar wrote:
"In the face of the total darkness which engulfs the Arab world, following
the unjust American attack on Iraq, we emphasize the importance of
protecting the Egyptian national front. It means it should be protected in
the framework of the supreme national interest and [we should] frustrate any
conspiracy against the Arab nation... We must stand firm against any
violation of our national security that takes advantage of the tragedy of
this war. We must all join hands and cooperate to protect our national front
and oppose any action that would affect our security or stability."(4)

Writing in the official government daily, Al-Ahram, under the heading "The
Primary Responsibility for the War: On Whom Does It Fall?" D. Ali Al-Samman
puts the blame squarely on Saddam Hussein. He writes: "It is not possible to
separate the current crisis from the crisis and the Gulf war of 1991. For
those who suffer from a weak memory let me say: the first and only
responsibility for initiating the aggression, attack and occupation of
Kuwait without any justification other than the desire for expansion and
hegemony and the violation of international and Arab legitimacy... came from
those who ruled Baghdad. Let me then summarize this point: 'I say that the
primary responsibility carries the names of a person who made the tragic
decision in 1991 and carries his name twice and thrice - Saddam, Saddam,

Editorials in Saudi Press

The Saudi editorials have also stressed the need to protect "the national
front." The editorial in the Saudi daily Okaz focused on fighting "the
rumors spread by hostile elements who try to arouse alarm, fear and
disagreements with a view of crushing the national unity."(6)

The Saudi government's daily, Al-Riyadh used harsher language toward the
United States: "It is a surprising historical paradox that the most modern
civilization is fighting the most ancient human civilization with false
arguments and in an attempt to vie for its resources. This is strange. The
North has always accused the South that it was backward and primitive but
now it is clear that the man with AWACS, bombs, missiles and the modern
scientific discoveries is the same man from the stone age..."(7)

An editorial carried by the Saudi government daily, Al Watan, seeks to
dispel the notion prevalent in the Arab press that the war will not stop at
the Iraqi border and that it was the beginning of an American strategy to
redraw the map of the area and, therefore, it would affect other countries
as well. The editorial reads: "We do not believe that this analysis is
justified because the redrawing of the regional map is not governed strictly
by military considerations or the result of a military action against one
country in the region. There are political, military, economic, and
geographic considerations intertwined with international factors..."

"In the Iraqi case, it is a country which placed itself in a serious
predicament because of the [ideas] that governed its leadership since it
took power. President Saddam Hussein has exceeded the boundaries of the
international political and military game and led his country first into war
with Iran... Then he led the country into another disaster... which is the
occupation of Kuwait, which turned Iraq into an outlaw country,
internationally ostracized and politically, economically, and militarily

"These historical errors have become mortal errors which led the regime to
where it is today. Iraq is not like Saudi Arabia or Egypt. These two
countries are stable countries in terms of regime, economy, and political
and religious harmony. Additionally, they have firm relations with other
countries. This is true to some extent with regard to Iran as well, despite
its problems with the U.S. These countries have immunity that protects them
from conspiracies regarding the redrawing of the region's map. This immunity
does not exist with regard to Iraq."(8)

Editorials in Lebanese and Syrian Press

In the Lebanese daily, Al-Safir, editor Talal Salman wrote: "George Bush
loves fire games. Instead of offering his mother flowers during the holiday
he offers burned cities from far far away, from the heart of the deep-rooted
human history, and from the depth of the human civilization among which one
is 'Baghdad,' a second called 'Babel' and a third called 'Nineveh' and
fourth whose name he could not remember because of its difficult

George Bush loves fire games. Yesterday he let go of his gigantic air
fleets, those seen exceeding sound barriers and those like ghosts which
cannot be seen dump their bombs which weigh tons over the dreams of the
children and the young..."(9)

From Iraqi Television

As has been the case in the last few days, Iraqi Television broadcast
interviews with clergymen, "Arab volunteer suicide-fighters," and citizens.
The recurring motif in all of them was "Iraq is Saddam and Saddam is Iraq."

Interviews of Iraqi Soldiers

An Iraqi soldier said: "...Iraq is Saddam and Saddam is Iraq, the nation,
and the entire human race. This message is intended for the whole world; we
are the sons of this land, we are the sons of the glorious Iraq, we stand
steadfast and with conviction, we will defend glorious Iraq and our entire
Arab nation..."

Another Iraqi soldier said: "We are ready to sacrifice for mighty Iraq and
for the leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein is Iraq and Iraq with its
people, mountains, and trees is Saddam Hussein. Little Bush came to us and
demanded some things, and made some false accusations....But we tell him...
you will not succeed in hurting even an inch of Iraq, no matter how strong
you are... who is America?!! Siding with America is disgraceful, because the
whole world is against this attack."

A citizen said: "In the 1920's we taught the conquerors a lesson. And today,
we - the sons of the Iraqi people - are ready, under the leadership of our
warrior commander Saddam Hussein, may Allah bless him and protect him, to
fight the enemy and teach him a lesson. Here I tell the conceited American
enemy, that he will shatter himself against a proud mountain called Iraq.
This proud mountain symbolizes the might of this nation, the entire human
race, and the spirit of Islam, just as the warrior comrade Saddam Hussein
said, may Allah protect him and keep him [well]..."

Another soldier said: "With the will of Allah, Iraq will turn into a
graveyard for the Americans and their allies. And we, the Iraqis, the people
of the 1920 revolution, will defend it and [will defend] the honorable
President and leader Saddam Hussein... We are the drawn swords in the right
hand of the honorable leader Saddam Hussein."

Interviews of Iraqi Women

A (female) citizen said: "We have had poetesses and we have had [female]
fighters since the 1920 revolution. Mothers encourage their sons to seek
martyrdom and to carry out acts of Fedayeen [self sacrifice]."

Another (female) citizen said: "We, the glorious women of Iraq stand side by
side with the men to defend the honor and the land of Iraq, the land of
glory, the land of the prophets, the land of Saddam Hussein. We condemn the
American threats and the threats of Bush the criminal that are directed at
our great leader, the courageous leader who is the apple of the eye of all
Iraqi men and women. We condemn a thousand times this criminal... they will
not step on Iraqi soil, except as dead bodies. Bush should prepare coffins
for his soldiers along the Iraqi borders..."

An Iraqi soldier said: "I say to the contemporary Holago [the Mongol
leader], Bush the criminal, the murderer, the aggressor who attacked Iraq,
the Iraqi people and the Iraqi leader, Bush the criminal the contemporary
Pharaoh, that in Iraq there are 26 million Saddam Husseins..."

Interviews of Clergymen

Muslim clergy accused the U.S. of "burning the Koran." One Muslim clergy
said while holding a sword: "These infidel sinners started their war against
us in this country of Jihad. We witnessed with our own eyes Koran books
being torn apart by their war fires and their abominable bombs."

Another clergyman said: "... The truth is that this crime that was committed
by the enemies of Islam, the infidels and the polytheists... demonstrate the
sentiments of the infidel enemy towards Islam and Muslims. Islam's message
is the most important monotheistic message. The enemy wants to obliterate
Islam, to obliterate Allah's edicts, to obliterate everything that Islam
brought about... He burned the Koran, and by that wanted to burn the faith
of Muslims and their ties with Allah. This crime is no different than the
rest of their crimes against Islam and Muslims. We are not surprised by this
crime, because the enmity towards Islam and Muslims is apparent. Their
attempt to burn the Koran is as severe as their attempts to kill the Muslim
nation and to shed Muslim blood... All these acts demonstrate the animosity
of the infidels towards Muslims in general, Arabs in particular, and
particularly towards Iraq..."

An Iraqi officer, who stood in front of a group of soldiers engaged in
marching drills, said: "Oh, Jihad fighters and Arab believers... we greet
you with the greetings of Arabism and Islam. We are happy to show you some
of the drills of our brothers the Arab volunteer."

Interviews of Suicide Volunteers

After the suicide volunteers were shown marching in formation and chanting
"Allah Akbar", the Egyptian "Jihad fighter" Muhammad Ridha, whose nickname
is Abu Abd Al-Rahman, said: "I, thanks to Allah, arrived in June to
volunteer in the 'Jerusalem Army.' I returned [to Egypt], but Allah decreed
that I return [to Iraq], and I thank Him for that... I returned to fight the
Jihad, and left behind in Egypt four daughters and a son... I came to fight
[the war of] Jihad and I take an oath in front of the leader Saddam Hussein
that I will die as a martyr and that I do not want to return to Egypt. I say
to all the Arabs and Muslims that Jihad is our duty..."

A suicide volunteer, Abd Al-Karim Abd Al-'Azzam, from Aleppo, Syria said: "I
want to send a message to our Muslim brethren throughout the world...
Brothers, we are not defending Iraq only, but all the Muslim countries. It
started in Iraq, but Syria, Lebanon and other Muslim countries will follow.
How long will we keep silent, how long will we wait? America and the Jews
may decide next to bomb Mecca and Al-Medina, what are we waiting for? Are we
waiting for them to enter Al-Medina?"

A suicide volunteer, Abdallah from Algeria said: "I call upon the entire
Muslim nation to stand as one and defend the Muslim nation... truth is

The suicide volunteer, Abd Al-'Aziz Mahmoud Hawash from Syria said: "We are
here, and we left the wife and children in order to defend the Arab and
Muslim nation... We came as 'Shuhadaa' [martyrs] and we pray that Allah
accepts our martyrdom for Him..."

Another volunteer suicide-fighter from Syria said: "I came from Syria to
fight along with our Iraqi brothers because this land is the land of the
prophets and is the natural treasure of the Arabs... The Americans, Zionists
and the British want to control the oil and the natural resources of the
Arab world. They say that Iraq has arms, but it is a lie. They want the oil
and they want a crusade, but we will be the drawn swords in the hand of the
Jihad fighter Saddam Hussein."

Another suicide volunteer who did not say his origins said: "...I send a
message to the blood-shedding criminal Bush, and to his servant Tony Blair,
and his new servant the Spanish P.M., you want a crusade and we are ready
for that, with the help of Allah... Oh [Muslim] nation, who is a billion and
four hundred million strong, don't you see what is happening in Palestine?
What happened to the boiling Arab blood in your veins? We hope that you will
come to the training camps in Iraq..."

Another suicide volunteer from Syria said: "Listen Oh Bush, and listen
America... we are not the aggressors, you crossed the ocean and came here to
slaughter our children and our women, and the most important thing that they
came for is this religion... We came to seek martyrdom and to raise the
chant: Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar."

Next, a few dozens of the volunteers fighters were seen training, boarding a
plane and jumping with parachutes, or descending from a helicopter by ropes,
riding motorcycles in pairs, stopping and firing shoulder rockets, running
away, and then firing again.

(1) Al-Hayat (London), March 21, 2003. According to the March 21, 2003 issue
of another London-based Saudi paper, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saddam read from
the poem "The Camel" by Abd Al-Razzaq Abd Al-Wahed which begins with:
"Patient, oh you camel." The poet is known as the "President's poet" or the
poet of "The mothers of all battles." Others attribute the lines to the
poet Ra'd Al-Badr who has gained the title of "the poet of battles" while
the Iraqis call him "the palace poet."
(2) Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 20, 2002.
(3) Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 21, 2003.
(4) Al-Akhbar (Egypt), March 21, 2003.
(5) Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 21, 2003.
(6) Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 21, 2003.
(7) Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), March 21, 2003.
(8) Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), March 21, 2003.
(9) Al-Safir (Lebanon), March 21, 2003.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent,
non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle
East. Copies of articles
and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
E-Mail: memri@memri.org

Search For An Article


Contact Us

POB 982 Kfar Sava
Tel 972-9-7604719
Fax 972-3-7255730
email:imra@netvision.net.il IMRA is now also on Twitter

image004.jpg (8687 bytes)