Arab media subdued, incredulous by Iraqi elation at fall of Baghdad
KUWAIT CITY — Some Arab journalists were subdued and others incredulous as they watched Iraqis cheering the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad.
“The surreal scene this afternoon was unthinkable until yesterday,” Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera reporter Maher Abdullah said Wednesday. “Nobody could dream of it. If someone had told me this, I would have told him ‘impossible.”‘
At one point, Abdullah referred to a Saddam Hussein monument as a statue of “the former president.”
One Kuwaiti Television presenter called the Iraqi elation and their thanks to U.S.-led troops who rolled into the capital as a “slap in the face” to Arabs who had sided with Saddam.
Kuwait, which was occupied by Saddam’s troops in 1990, had been heavily criticized in the Arab world in recent weeks for being the only Arab country to openly back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and for granting the United States use of its territory to launch the offensive.
On Abu Dhabi TV on Wednesday night, the anchor told his audience: “This may be the last time we bring you the reports under the headline, ‘On the Front Line.’ We wish you and the Iraqis a life without wars.”
The Lebanese channel, Al Hayat-LBC satellite TV, aired an interview from outside the Palestine Hotel with a British woman who had come to Iraq to act as human shields against the invasion. She expressed shock at the speed of the collapse of Saddam’s authority, and said Iraq was free until U.S.-led troops arrived.
A headline from Thursday’s early edition of Egypt’s al-Gomhuria newspaper said: “Saddam deceived the Iraqis and the Arabs and Baghdad fell in seconds.”