Rallies have been held in Iraq to mark the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War, which started as a result of its invasion of Kuwait. After a decade of crippling sanctions and ongoing air strikes, Saddam Hussein is still in power and Iraq is suspected of maintaining its efforts to build weapons of mass destruction.
It was early in the morning of 17 January 1990 that western patience with Iraq finally came to an end, after months of negotiations about withdrawing from Kuwait. According to some estimates, during the six weeks of war which followed, an average of 2,000 tonnes of bombs were being dropped on Iraq each day. Both soldiers and civilians were among the dead. Ten years on, and the mood in Iraq is one of defiance. A rally was held in Baghdad, to mark the anniversary. The country is still suffering the effects of the war and of UN trade sanctions. American peace activists were in Baghdad, to call for an end to the sanctions.
The man who has ruled Iraq with an iron fist and launched the invasion of Kuwait is still in power. This morning, Saddam Hussein addressed the nation. In a speech charged with rhetoric, he said that Iraq would emerge victorious in its struggle against the United States.
UN Arms inspectors did not receive the co-operation they wanted, and there is evidence that Saddam Hussein has been continuing his efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors left, just before the last big round of air strikes two years ago.
However, the real damage is being caused by sanctions and Britain and the US are increasingly isolated in their support for them. They are supposed to cripple Iraq's military capacity, but there are long delays in bringing in basic foodstuffs and medical supplies. International aid organisations have said that thousands of Iraqi children are dying each year, because of the sanctions. The limit on Iraq's oil exports has now been lifted, but all imports have to be approved by a UN sanctions committee. It is clear that basic supplies are not getting through.