Weary Baghdad Residents Prepare for the Worst - Again
By WAIEL FALEH
(December 20, 1999 12:14 a.m. EST
Nervous residents in Baghdad wondered Sunday if the government's denunciation of a new U.N. policy toward their nation would prompt another round of U.S. bombings like those that devastated the capital a year ago.
Some said the United States has been looking for an excuse to bomb Iraq. Others said Iraqis are well versed in preparing for the worst. 45-year-old Jalal Abbas said while shopping in a downtown market, "I cannot hide my fears of an American act of aggression, but what can we do?"
Adding to the tension has been recently deteriorating power and telephone service, a reminder of past government action to dismantle power-generating and communication centers when rhetoric and expectations of an attack would rise. The cause of the utility troubles could not be confirmed.
The resolution approved Friday by the Security Council would return weapons inspectors to Iraq and improve the oil-for-food program. But rather than immediately lifting U.N. sanctions as Iraq has demanded, the resolution offered merely the prospect for renewable suspensions based on an unspecified level of cooperation by Iraq.
Iraq, as expected, said that wasn't acceptable, bucking a U.N. decision for the third time in a month.
Whether the United States' British and Arab partners from the 1991 Persian Gulf War could stomach another bombing raid on Iraq isn't clear. But in Baghdad, memories of last year's Operation Desert Fox are fresh: Iraqis desperately seeking shelter as U.S. and British planes fired more than 500 cruise missiles during a four-day campaign that began the night of Dec. 16.
Khalil Fahim, 55, said he has learned not to trust American policy-makers. "They are obsessed with the idea of toppling Saddam Hussein, making us pay the price. ... If they want to help the people of Iraq, they must forget this obsession and leave us alone." Mohammed al-Meshhadani, a 48-year-old instructor at Baghdad University, said the United States and Britain "are seeking excuses to attack Iraq. This is why they issue more and more resolutions that they very well know Iraq will reject."
Protests across Iraq against new UN resolution
BAGHDAD, Dec 20
Street protests have spread across Iraq against a new UN resolution covering sanctions and arms inspections, but the Baghdad regime had still not announced its official position on Monday.
From the northern town of Tikrit to the southern city of Basra, thousands of demonstrators have poured out to denounce resolution 1284 as "an attempt to perpetuate the embargo" in force since 1990.
They also voiced their support for the government of President Saddam Hussein, which has been in power for two decades, newspapers reported.
The demonstrations were originally organised to mark the first anniversary of Operation Desert Fox, the US-British air war on Iraq, but they quickly transformed into protests against the latest move by the United Nations.
Iraqi television on Sunday night broadcast images from around the country showing marches during which men, women, students, farmers and tribal members held up giant portraits of Saddam and vowed to "defend Iraq's sovereignty."
The wave of demonstrations against the resolutions began in Baghdad with some 10,000 Iraqis marching through the capital on Saturday.