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The day in quotes

Comments from around the world as the war in Iraq gets under way
Thursday March 20, 2003--Muharram 16, 1424 A.H.

The Guardian


Thursday March 20, 2003

"The people of the United States, and our friends and allies, will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our army, air force, navy, coastguard and marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities."
US president George Bush

"We are all for Jihad. Take the sword without any fear. Take out the sword: let them be witness to that. Take out the sword on the enemies against you. Your enemies will suffer humiliation and defeat."
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein

"At this moment in our nation's history, I would like to express my pride in you, the British service and civilian personnel deployed in the Gulf and in the vital supporting roles in this country and further afield. May your mission be swift and decisive, your courage steady and true, and your conduct in the highest traditions of your service both in waging war and bringing peace."
Queen Elizabeth II

"The purpose of these initial operations was simply to deal with the leadership and the threat to our safety and security posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the hands of an absolutely appalling group of people. I was involved in discussions about those operations well before they occurred."
Geoff Hoon, defence secretary

"The prime minister was informed shortly after midnight, London time, that attacks on a limited number of command and control targets were being brought forward. As regards the involvement of British forces, he (Tony Blair) will set out the position in due course."
Downing Street spokesman

"France regrets this action, taken without approval of the UN. We hope these operations will be as rapid and least deadly as possible, and that they don't lead to a humanitarian catastrophe."
Jacques Chirac, French president

"Russia demands the swiftest end to military action. The military action against Iraq is a big political mistake. The military action in Iraq is being conducted in spite of world opinion, in spite of the principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter. This military action cannot be justified."
Vladimir Putin, Russian president

"Soon, the US will have to reap the fruits of what they are doing now, and the fruits won't be sweet."
Vladimir Lukin, Russian MP and former ambassador to Washington

"Military action against Iraq is violating the norms of international behaviour. We express regret and disappointment. The Iraq question can be solved peacefully. We urge the relevant countries to stop using force, to stop military action."
Kong Quan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman

"This is a bitter defeat. War is the worst of all solutions. We hope that the hostilities will end quickly, and that the civilian population will be protected. Everything must be done to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe."
Joschka Fischer, German foreign minister

"Our forces have started combat and combat support operations, conducting missions to escort ... coalition tanker and airborne early warning and control aircraft. Not only will it take dangerous weapons from that country, but it will send a clear signal to other rogue states and terrorists groups like al-Qaida, which clearly want such weapons, that the world is prepared to take a stand."
John Howard, Australian prime minister

"Pakistan deplores the initiation of military action against Iraq. Our position is very clear: we are against war. We have strong relations with the US, but, despite that, we have a principled stand."
Kursheed Kasuri, Pakistani foreign minister

"It is a sombre moment, because this is the start of military activities and our thoughts and prayers have to be with our armed forces and their families at this very worrying time. We have got to decide ourselves that we have started on this course and we have now got to see it through to a final resolution and we have to pursue this as swiftly and quickly and effectively as we can.
Michael Ancram, shadow foreign secretary

"Now that the opening stages of military action have begun, we must all hope and pray that it can be concluded as swiftly as possible, with minimal casualties for all concerned. My thoughts are particularly with our British service personnel who are in the Gulf, and their families here at home."
Charles Kennedy, Liberal Democrat leader

"Cruise missiles were fired overnight, and stealth bombers took part in operations. But I am fairly sure that there has been no RAF involvement as yet."
RAF wing commander Dave Bye

"This is not the start of the war. These air strikes were taking advantage of a window of opportunity based on intelligence reports."
Flight Lt Peter Darling, British military spokesman

"This was not a drill, this was a full-scale alert. Once the alarms were sounded, every single British soldier in the area would have reacted as fast as possible, putting on masks and chemical suits. It is a sign that we recognise the chemical threat and are ready to deal with it. There may be many more alerts in the hours to come."
British Army spokesman Major Sean Tully

" As representatives of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and the Muslim Council, we stand together in our desire to see military action ended as quickly as possible. In this time of crisis and deep disappointment, it is vitally important that, despite the occasional unhappy use of "crusade" language by some American political leaders, none should see the conflict as one between faiths."
Dr David Goodbourn, general secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, in a joint statement


"It's not the shock and awe the Americans were talking about. The interesting thing will be the battle damage assessment afterwards to see what effect it has had. They will be looking at it now, using satellites and flying U2 spy aircraft over the areas. They want as few threats as possible for the troops."
Thomas Withington, defence analyst at King's College London's centre for defence studies

"This does not look like the previous campaigns, where we were looking to grind the enemy into surrendering through air power. If you break off the communications, then the regime cannot communicate with the army, then the army will not fight. Before, in previous conflicts, they have used a large campaign to grind the country down, to make it clear who is powerful and to psychologically defeat the people. This is radical new military thinking.
Jeremy Binnie, Middle East editor of Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment

"Even in wars, people have rights that must be protected. The International Committee of the Red Cross solemnly and strongly appeals to all concerned to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law which set limits to violence."
Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross