Video: Iraqi reaction to Bush speech

msnbc.com
updated 6/29/2005 11:09:51 AM ET 2005-06-29T15:09:51


While Americans were President Bush's primary target audience for his nationally televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Iraqis were also very interested in what he had to say.

Walid Phares, a terrorism expert for MSNBC and senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, joined MSNBC's Amy Robach on Wednesday to discuss how Bush's words may be playing in Baghdad, Basra and all around Iraq.

"Days ago I had met with the (Iraqi) prime minister at a meeting here in Washington and a number of senior officials, both religious and secular, and they told me the same story that we found this morning in the Iraqi/Baghdad press, which was that most Iraqis are concerned about an abrupt withdrawal from Iraq, because that would cause a collapse in their security system," Phares said.

Phares admitted that the country is "pretty much divided," but noted that no matter what Bush - or any other American president -- said, "the fundamentalists, the al-Qaida followers, the followers of Saddam Hussein ... they're going to be against them, they're going to be strongly against them."

That said, Phares told Robach  that "the majority of Iraqis would like those forces to stay enough time to have their own force."

He added that while most Iraqis now have access to satellite television many still do not. In addition, the language barrier can cloud the message of the American leader, that "basically, they're at the mercy of their own media."

However, Phares said the Iraq media marketplace "is becoming very diverse, day-after-day." 

Phares told Robach the key to winning support in Iraq for any leader is winning the support of the people that lead Iraqis.

"The leadership of the Iraqis basically shape of the opinion of most Iraqis," he said. "Most of the Kurds, most of the Shiites, a minority among the Sunnis, which is a majority of all Iraqis, wants us to stay. ... They believe that President Bush wants us to stay as long as is needed."

To watch the entire interview between Amy Robach and Walid Phares, click on the video link above. MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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