CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: Inside Iraq
Aired September 30, 2002 - 12:05 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get the view from inside Iraq. Right now, Jane Arraf is standing by in Baghdad.
Tell us what's going on over there -- Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Wolf, it has been sinking into the Iraqi leadership that what's at stake here is perhaps its very survival. And to that end, officials keep saying that those inspectors are welcome to come back in.
But there have always been two problems with the inspections. One is that they believe that the inspectors are actually spies. The other is that they felt the inspections have infringed on their sovereignty, the palace's, their security and their dignity.
Now, as for the spying question, the new UNMOVIC, the inspection regime, is seen to be better than the old one since it's got fewer Americans and much more nationalities.
As for sovereignty, that's going to be tougher. They're still saying that anything they agree to will have to respect that basic issue of Iraqi sovereignty -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jane, is the mood over there getting a little bit more optimistic that perhaps a war could be averted?
ARRAF: It's all kind of hanging on a knife's edge. It's an extremely stressful time for people, as you can imagine, because one moment, there is good news; the next, there is talk that Iraq will reject whatever it is that's being formulated. So, people don't quite know what to think.
We have, though, been out in the streets, asking what they think of the weapons inspectors coming back, and this is what some of the people had to say to us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Let the inspectors come. It's all American propaganda. Bush will lose his excuse. They want the inspectors to come. Let them come. We have nothing here of what they are talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why is it that they are going after Iraq only? How come the inspectors are not going to Israel, which also has weapons of mass destruction, and get Israel to abide by the U.N. resolutions? (END VIDEO CLIP)
ARRAF: Now, that first one was typically defiant. It's what the government says, it's what people say when they say what they think they are supposed to say, which is, "Let them come, we have nothing."
However, it does underlie a real sentiment here that maybe even the weapons inspectors don't matter so much, even if they come. A lot of people here are firmly convinced that the end-game isn't inspections and disarmament. It is still getting rid of President Saddam Hussein -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Finally, Jane, those three Democratic congressmen who are in Baghdad right now, they are getting a lot of publicity here in the United States. Are they getting any pick-up, any play in the official Iraqi government news media?
ARRAF: Well, that's a really interesting thing. I mean, their visit has been extremely beneficial to the Iraqis in one sense, but also dangerous in another sense. Because they have been relatively open about the fact that they are not huge fans of the Iraqi leadership. They say that the regime -- that they are not fond of the regime, but what they want to do is avert war.
And they have actually been saying that pretty clearly to the Iraqi officials they have been meeting with; that they have to let in the weapons inspectors. That it's no time to debate history and no time to go over who is right or who is wrong.
The Iraqis don't particularly want to make that message clear to their public, but they want very much to let Iraqis know that there are actually three American congressmen here -- a very rare thing in recent times -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jane Arraf in Baghdad, thanks very much.
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