Iraq 'Not Afraid' Of New
Attack By US

By Hassan Hafidh

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has said on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War that suggestions that the United States might target Iraq again in its war against terrorism did not frighten it.

"We are not afraid of anyone and we are not worried about anything despite a lot of suggestions, fuss, noise and allegations against us," the ruling Baath Party newspaper al- Thawra said on Wednesday.

It said Iraq had overcome all difficulties and "is close to achieving final victory."

"The past 11 years have shown how Iraq is able to resist and confront aggression and score victories," the paper said in a front-page editorial.

As Baghdad prepares to mark the 11th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War -- sparked by Iraq's invasion of neighbouring Kuwait in 1990 -- speculation has grown that the United States could hit Iraq in its drive against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman said on Monday the battle against terrorism would not be won until President Saddam Hussein was removed from power.

President George W. Bush recently warned that Saddam would face consequences if he did not allow United Nations weapons inspectors to return to Baghdad, triggering speculation that Iraq might be the next target of U.S. forces.

The U.N. inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 and have not been allowed to return.


The six-week Gulf War, which Saddam dubbed the "Mother of all Battles", inflicted widespread damage to Iraq's infrastructure and left thousands of Iraqi civilians dead.

The U.S-led coalition military campaign ended when Iraqi forces were driven out of Kuwait. Iraq has since been under United Nations economic sanctions.

Baghdad says the sanctions have claimed the lives of more than 1.5 million people because of shortages of food and medicines.

The United States and Britain have imposed two no-fly zones to protect a Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from possible attack by Baghdad troops, and warplanes patrolling the zones frequently fire at Iraqi air defence units challenging them.

Commemoration of the Gulf War will reach its climax when Saddam makes a televised speech on Thursday.

The Iraqi photographers union plan an exhibition of pictures in Baghdad showing damage caused to Iraq's infrastructure at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday (11:30 PM on Wednesday British time) -- the exact moment when the international coalition's operation "Desert Storm" began 11 years ago.

Iraqi trade unions are also organising a demonstration at the same time.
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