CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: Inside Iraq
Aired October 30, 2002 - 12:04 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 inside view from inside Iraq right now.
CNN Rym Brahimi is joining us once again from Baghdad.
What's happening in Baghdad today -- Rym.
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, there are still quite a few journalists here in Baghdad, and every single event here seems to be an opportunity to actually discuss the current tension between Iraq and the United States.
Today, we were invited at a press conference by Iraq's trade minister. This comes ahead of an international trade fair due to begin on Friday.
Now, the trade minister opened it, saying that the number of participants, the number of participating countries, which include a lot of Western European countries, was just an indication of the lack of support the United States has for what he said were its aggressive policies toward Iraq.
Now, later on in the press conference, of course, we took that opportunity to ask him about the current debate at the United Nations regarding the resolution, and he said that the United States has failed to gather a coalition, has failed to gather enough support for such a resolution, and if it actually had any respect for itself, well, Washington would actually withdraw its draft proposal.
Now, this is -- you know, this is a continuation, Wolf, if you will, of the policy here of the way that Iraq sees the United States.
Now, interestingly enough, also, the trade minister said that today's meeting between Hans Blix and Mr. Elbaradei with President Bush and Vice President Cheney was just another proof that the United States was trying to be interventionist, and that the United States was actually trying to impose its writ, if you will, on the entire affair, rather than that of the Security Council or the United Nations.
So, this comes back to, you know, the same position the Iraqi officials have been saying here, Wolf, that they don't see the need for a new resolution. And their line is either U.S. and Britain wanted the inspectors back, we invited them back in, we set a date, they say, and now the U.S. and Britain are delaying the return of the inspectors -- Wolf. BLITZER: Rym, we're getting a lot of e-mail questions about the journalists in Baghdad. You say there are still plenty of journalists -- international journalists in Iraq. But our viewers, of course, know that Nic Robertson, Jane Arraf, our other Baghdad correspondents were asked to leave.
You're still there. Why did they let you stay, and they asked our other CNN reporters, at least for the time being, to leave?
BRAHIMI: Well, there has to be an advantage to carrying an Algerian passport. Wolf, I believe that the fact that I have an Algerian, and therefore an Arab passport, must have helped me get, when I arrived, a longer visa than many other people. It isn't clear, really, what has been going on, though, because as you know, CNN has had such a long-standing presence in Iraq that it was very surprising for us when bureau chief Jane Arraf was told she had to leave within the next 24 hours, when senior correspondent Nic Robertson was also told to leave, as well as senior producer Ingrid Formanek (ph).
The situation as it stands now is, Wolf, a lot of journalists have been asked to leave indeed, but a lot of other journalists have been given visas to come into Iraq. The pretext this time being the international trade fair; last time it was the referendum.
Now, our Baghdad bureau chief, you'll be happy to hear, has been given a visa number, which means she should be able to come back to Baghdad within the next 48 hours. This was as promised by the Iraqi authorities during our last discussions.
It's not clear what happened with the other journalists. A lot of them have been told to leave. There were issues with coverage, as you know, from the north of Iraq and our coverage of a demonstration here. But it's all a bit murky.
We still have no news about when senior correspondent Nic Robertson and Ingrid Formanek (ph) will be able to get back, but we're crossing our fingers, and hopefully we'll all be able to talk to you live from here pretty soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're crossing our fingers as well. Rym Brahimi, good to have you on the scene for us. Thanks so much for that report. We'll continue to check back with you very often.
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