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CNN Today

The Gulf War 10 Years Later: Life in Iraq Today

Aired January 16, 2001 - 1:17 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: It was 10 years ago today that the U.S. and its allies launched Operation Desert Storm, the military campaign aimed at ending Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

A decade after the conflict, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein remains in power. And international sanctions imposed against the country remain in effect.

For some insight into what life is like in Iraq today and how this anniversary is being marked there, I'm joined now by CNN's Jane Arraf, who's in Baghdad -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, there are a lot of painful memories and official defiance here on the eve of conflict that many Iraqis still refer to as the Bush War.

In just a few hours, at about to be 2:30 in the morning, local time, protesters will hold a candlelight vigil to mark the moment that the first bombs were dropped on Iraq.

Iraqis will observe a moment of silence later in the day, while mosques and churches will hold special prayers. President Saddam Hussein's scheduled to televise a speech.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, just a short while ago, ended a press conference, saying that the important thing to remember over the past 10 years is that Iraq has emerged victorious with its sovereignty intact. He said that Baghdad has always called for dialogue with the United States, but even with a new administration, it isn't expecting very much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Makes no difference to us who runs the united government of the United States. And I cannot judge what the new administration is going to do. It's not yet in power.

We will judge the actions, the policies of this administration, when it appears and it's clear to us. If it is a continuation of the same policy which was carried out by the Clinton administration, that's their own business.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ARRAF: Asked about the president's health, Tariq Aziz said President Saddam Hussein was in good shape and his stature in the Arab world was great.

He said as for regret over invasion -- over invaded Kuwait and the subsequent 10 years, Aziz said when the countries that attacked Iraq express regret, then Iraq will consider whether it has anything to regret -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Jane, in the years immediately after the war, we saw grim pictures of what life was like for many Iraqis there, in Baghdad. What about today?

ARRAF: As you will see from the pictures, it's been quite a dramatic improvement. Just shortly after the war, everything was rationed here. It was grim and gray. People were dressed in rags. And people were actually picking through garbage, looking for food to eat.

Today, this is a country where nobody's starving to death. There is hunger and disease, and the sanctions certainly are biting. The economy has collapsed. But Iraq has basically...

ALLEN: And then, we're going to go into...

ARRAF: ... fought back from those early years after the war.

One of the things that it's proud of is that it's managed to survive 10 years and rode the sanctions. You can find virtually everything in the shops these days, clothing, electronics, food. Iraq is selling oil again on the world markets, and it's one of the biggest oil powers, once again.

And Iraqis say that they will survive no matter whether the sanctions stay in place or not -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Jane Arraf, in Baghdad, we thank you.

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