- CAIRO (Reuters) - Arabs greeted
the capture of Saddam Hussein with divided emotions Sunday, welcoming the
arrest of a dictator yet tinged with regret that a symbol of Arab defiance
against the United States was behind bars.
- Some feared Saddam's capture would boost President Bush,
who many Arabs believe has waged a campaign against them and other Muslims
after the September 11 attacks. But others said the fight against U.S.
occupation would go on.
- "It is happy news but we wish it were the Iraqi
people who had captured him, not U.S. troops, because this will give Bush
a boost in the upcoming election," said Bahraini salesman Hussein
Jafar as news of Saddam's capture swept through Arab capitals.
- U.S. troops captured Saddam, grubby and bearded, when
he was dug out by troops from a narrow hiding hole during a raid on a farm
near his hometown of Tikrit.
- "I only wish it was not the Americans who got him.
I don't like Saddam but as an Arab I wouldn't like to see them (Americans)
dragging him around Baghdad," said Syrian student Abdul-Nasser.
- For others, the capture was disappointing news. Saddam
may have been seen as a dictator who oppressed his people, but many also
saw him as the only Arab leader who stood up to the United States, which
they said rode roughshod through the region.
- "Of course it's bad news. To us, Saddam was a symbol
of defiance to the U.S. plans in the region. And we support any person
who stands in the face of the American dominance," said Azzam Hneidi,
an Islamist member of Jordan's parliament.
- KEEPING UP THE FIGHT
- Others said the U.S. success might prove fleeting, saying
Iraqis were not fighting for Saddam but for an end to the U.S. occupation
- "The situation in Iraq will not change much. I don't
think the resistance was linked to Saddam and it will increase as was the
case after the death of Uday and Qusay," said Yemeni political analyst
Saeed Shabet, referring to Saddam's two sons.
- In Gaza and the West Bank, where Palestinians are fighting
against an Israeli occupation, some were in somber mood that the United
States, perceived as providing unswerving support for Israel, could claim
- "It's a black day in history. I am saying so not
because Saddam is an Arab but because he is the only man who said 'no'
to American injustice in the Middle East," said Fadiq Husam, a 33-year-old
taxi driver in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
- But in Kuwait, occupied by Iraq in 1990-1991, the reaction
was one of joy. Some cars honked horns along a seaside road that during
the occupation had been lined with Iraqi army positions. Others sent mobile
phone messages to spread the news.
- "We are so happy they got him...The people of Iraq
have been brainwashed by the Saddam regime. They need another 20 years
to realize that the Kuwaitis are not to blame for the Iraqis' plight,"
said Kuwaiti Mohammad al-Hudieb, cruising the Arabian Gulf seafront in
- © Reuters 2003. All Rights Reserved.