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Strike on Iraq: View From Kuwait City

Aired March 22, 2003 - 02:17   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to check in with Daryn Kagan, who is standing by in Kuwait City, as she has been since the beginning of this conflict.
Daryn -- what's the latest?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Anderson, good morning to you and Carol from Kuwait City. It's already about 10:15 Kuwait time, a windy and chilly day here in Kuwait City.

I've had a chance to grab the morning papers, and I wanted to share it with the viewers back home.

First, I want to look at one of the English papers, the "Arab Times," the big headline if you can see there: "A-Day ripped out the heart of Baghdad." And there are pictures of the big shock and awe campaign. You probably can't see the smaller pictures inset, but I can describe them to you. One is of U.S. troops in some kind of hole, and then the other is of Iraqi soldiers surrendering.

And then if you'll go with me here, I'm going to try to -- with the help of one of our Kuwaiti assistants -- actually Lebanese assistant who is fluent in Arabic. I want to show you one of the Arabic papers, a number of these here. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I read Arabic, but I will tell you that I talked with Hanna Sharani (ph), she's one of our assistants here in Kuwait, and she helped me with this.

First, we can look the pictures. Again, here's a picture of Iraqi troops surrendering, a picture of a helicopter carrying some kind of vehicle. And then over here is a picture of one of the missiles. The Iraqis have launched 12 different missiles at Kuwait since this conflict started.

I actually had the chance to go out in the desert and see this for myself. It's an al-Fatah missile shot down by a Patriot missile, but it was the Kuwaitis who shot this particular one down. No chemical or biological weapons on this missile.

Now, Hanna (ph) thought it was particularly interesting for people to know what these headlines said, and as she translated it for me, this one is describing the beginning of shock and awe. And here, it's an Arabic quote, and she tells me that this says "shock and awe."

And over here, she says, believe it or not, this is talking about the launch of the missiles. And she says this is -- she said it was difficult for her to interpret, but it was almost like a joke, making a joke of the Scud missile, kind of like, did you hear the one about the Scud missile that the Iraqis tried to launch on Kuwait? They are mocking Iraq for this.

Indeed, we hear Iraq has launched at least one Scud missile that the Americans were able to shoot down with a Patriot missile. And of the 12 missiles that the Iraqis have tried to launch at this country none have been successful in causing any casualties or any damage. They've all have either been shot down or landed in the desert or perhaps in the sea.

So there you have it, a look at the Saturday morning papers from here in Kuwait City -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, Daryn, I guess it's good news in the sense that some Kuwaitis, or at least in the media, have something of a sense of humor about this. Interesting that they can sort of step back and I guess see it in that kind of light.

What is the mood in Kuwait City now? Have there been more air raid sirens throughout the night? What's the status on that?

KAGAN: Things a little bit quieter. The night before last, we had at least -- well, there were about seven or eight over that 24- hour period. Overnight there were three that woke up this city from their sleep -- from its sleep. Last night, the last one we had was about 11:00 p.m. local time, and haven't had any since, so a sense that things perhaps are quieting down a little bit.

I don't want to convey at all that the Kuwaitis are taking this lightly, but I do think that they have a sense of confidence and definitely a sense that they support what the U.S. and British troops are doing north of their border here in Iraq. And that makes them feel a lot better, of course, as compared to how things went back in 1991.

COOPER: And as you yourself have experienced, I'm sure, you know, as this happens day after day and as the Kuwaitis have lived with this for many years now, perhaps their perspective, as you said, it's not normal, but they are able to get some sort of distance, some sort of perspective on it.

All right, Daryn Kagan, we'll check back in with you very shortly in Kuwait City -- thanks very much.


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