Iraq’s ruling party newspaper today dismissed President Bush’s State of the Union speech as a “Hollywood farce”.
It pointed out that he had offered no new evidence to support an array of accusations about hidden Iraqi weapons.
“It isn’t Iraq that is misleading in this. It is Bush,” said the editorial in Al-Thawra.
President Saddam Hussein, seeking to bolster Iraqi confidence in the stand-off with Washington, assured top military commanders in a televised meeting last night that they would repel any US attack.
“Iraq is not Afghanistan,” the Iraqi president told them. He said long, well-supplied Iraqi defence lines would “absorb the momentum of the attack, destroy it and defeat it”.
Americans have no right to attack this country, he said. “Every one of them, from the top down to the smallest soldier, is coming as an aggressor with ambitions.”
The Baath Party newspaper’s editorial carried the comments of Iraqi officials in the hours after Bush’s speech on Tuesday night, in which the US president alleged that Iraq retained chemical and biological arms in defiance of UN resolutions.
The Baghdad government says it has no programmes to make weapons of mass destruction.
Major General Hossam Mohammed Amin, chief Iraqi liaison to the current UN arms inspections in Iraq, said Bush’s speech was full of “cheap lies with a political purpose”. Bush “knows that Iraq has respected all resolutions.”
“Banned weapons are not small objects that Iraq can hide,” he said. “Iraq has got rid of all these weapons.”
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Bush’s accusations were “baseless, simply baseless. Now people are more unconvinced about the Bush allegations than any time before.”
The al-Thawra editorial said the US leader had provided neither “evidence of substance or of logic”.
Bush administration officials have said for months they have “solid” evidence Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction, but they have not put such evidence forward.
They said US Secretary of State Colin Powell will present a case backed up by intelligence information next week to the UN Security Council.