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Address: Saddam on TV last night. Or was it?

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Experts analyse Saddam tape
By Hugh Muir, Evening Standard
20 March 2003

Saddam Hussein was shown on television this morning proclaiming his defiance.

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Although some experts believed the address was prerecorded, many believed it was live and proved the US had failed in its early attempt to target the Iraqi president.

But Saddam's hopes of rallying the Iraqi people were hit by technical problems which meant the broadcast was abruptly halted on Iraqi television and only viewers of the satellite channel Al-Jazeera were able to hear the full rambling speech.

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The address was shown two hours after the first US cruise missiles hit targets in and around Baghdad.

Dressed in military uniform and wearing thick glasses and a black beret, Saddam urged Iraqis to be brave and assured them they "will be victorious". He also made desperate attempts to link his plight to the suffering of the Palestinians - a touchstone issue for all Arabs.

He said: "We promise you that Iraq, its leadership and its people will stand up to the evil invaders, and we will take them to such limits that they will lose their patience in achieving their plans, which are pushed by criminal Zionism.

"They will face a bitter defeat, God willing. You will be able to achieve glory and your despicable infidel enemies will be defeated. This is added to the series of their shameful crimes against Iraq and humanity." Saddam described the US President as "little, evil Bush", and added: "Draw your sword and be not afraid."

In what appeared to be a reference to the countries, including France, which have voiced their opposition to war, Saddam said: "My friends, and those who are fighting evil in the world, peace be among you. You have seen how Bush is acting against you and your opinions against the war - your call for peace.

"He is committing disgraceful crimes today. I am with you in the leadership and the people of Iraq who are fighting and the heroic army." He pledged that Iraqis would "conquer the invaders" and "win with God".

The broadcast gave no indication of the Saddam's whereabouts. He was filmed in what appeared to be a small cubicle with a blue curtain as the sole background.

After Labour backbencher George Galloway met him in Baghdad last year, he disclosed that Saddam was now living almost completely underground, in a labyrinthine system of bunkers.

Iraqi TV also showed footage of a march on Tuesday in Baghdad, with members of the crowd chanting pro-Saddam slogans, some brandishing rifles and carrying pictures of Saddam.

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