afternoon, Jon Snow here with your daily digest of Channel 4 News. But first I'm
delighted to include Lindsey Hilsum's latest dispatch from
Ultimatum hangs over
We woke up to the news of George
Bush's 48-hour ultimatum for Saddam Hussein and his family to leave the country.
I had been lying in bed awake for a couple of hours - but decided that there was
no purpose in finding out about the speech before 8am, because there was nothing
I could do about it.
Nothing much Iraqis can do either. By mid morning,
we learnt that Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday had suggested that George Bush
and his family should leave their country instead, and promised that "the wives
and mothers of those Americans who will fight us will weep blood and
A little later, the President himself appeared on TV being
cheered by loyal soldiers and dressed in military uniform instead of his normal
The message of the father echoed that of the son: "Iraq and
all its sons are fully ready to confront the invading aggressors and repel
Shutting up shop:
Most shops are shut
now, and Iraqis are as ready as they ever will be for war. The drivers we work
with say everyone's always asking them, "When will it start?" because they think
anyone who knows journalists must have inside information.
just waiting too. I met a man in a petrol queue who said he'd been glued to
Radio Monte Carlo and Al Jazeera TV (his brother has an illegal satellite dish).
"Sounds like it'll happen Wednesday or Thursday," he said.
"We know 95%
that it's going to happen - we've just got 5% hope that it won't. Don't the
politicians realise that people's lives depend on what they say?" He had sent
his children to the village, so that if he had to flee he could move more
American journalists leave
I don't know the exact
numbers, but I think about half the journalists have left so there are about 100
of us remaining. All the major British broadcasters - ITV, Channel 4 News,
Channel 5 News, the BBC and Sky - have
stayed, whereas most American networks
have gone. A small team from CBS (neither of them American nationals) remain,
and CNN is here too.
Many European TV channels are sticking it out. I'm
sure we'll all get to know each other very well in the coming days!
wonder what Iraqi people will make of all this when it's over. The central
doctrine of their President is that he embodies the nation - the leader, the
state, the government and the people are indivisable. That's why he refuses to
leave, even though that would spare them war.
Loyalists will go to bed
tonight knowing that if he falls, they fall too and other Iraqis will show them
Others are hoping that this is the moment their nation can be
reborn, through violence, and at last they'll be able to speak freely and rejoin
the world. But most, I suspect, will just go to bed in fear, worrying about the
bombing, worrying about the prospect of civil war, worrying about keeping their
children safe in the unknown weeks ahead.
And from London, Jon Snow writes:
thousands of Kurds flee northern
They are already
streaming out of the Northern Iraqi towns across into the No-Fly zones and out
into the hills. The exodus ahead of war is under way, and tonight Gaby
Rado is with them: His report at seven.
And as for the issue of war
policy, the British political classes are tonight convulsed as they debate the
war in the normally retreating and ever less significant confines of the Houses
Tonight, though, witnesses one of the most dramatic
events of modern times when the Prime Minister, for almost the first time, seeks
the permission of elected members to go to war.
One hundred and
twenty-two of his own members deserted him the last time he tested
opinion. There could be more tonight following the principled resignation
of his cabinet colleague Robin Cook.
Two other junior ministers have already gone. But
stunningly Clare Short for all her damnation of Blair's 'recklessness' has
proved reckless with her own sense of herself. She having pledged to go if there
was no UN second resolution sanctioning military action is staying.
'Bomber Short' as the tabloids called her during Kosovo, is tonight
voting to bomb again, so that she can be on deck to help pick up the pieces. Not
a lot of people are saying she has done anything to enhance her reputation for
principle. More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/03/week_3/18_short.html
Saddam defies US:
Baghdad tonight, Saddam's continuing defiance of US effort to push him into
exile. Lindsey Hilsum will be live from the Iraqi capital with the
Loads of stuff happening. See you at seven as ever is,
In the City a short time ago, the FTSE-100 index
closed up 120.5 points at 3722.3. Leading shares surged ahead again today on
mounting confidence that a swift war in Iraq will leave the fragile global
economy relatively unscathed. Even news of rising inflation has failed to dampen
investors' confidence. In New York, the Dow Jones resumed trading up 282 points
Another dry and fine night
throughout the country. There will be plenty of clear spells around, and
combined with the light winds inland, this will allow some mist and fog patches
to develop. Quite a widespread frost inland. Some low cloud and mist down some
eastern coasts. Lows of between -2 and 4 Celsius. A chilly start to the day on
Wednesday with a touch of frost, also some mist and fog patches, which may lift
into low-cloud. This cloud lifting and breaking to sunny spells or longer spells
of sunshine throughout the day and pleasantly warm in this sunshine. Light
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