INTRODUCTION: Iraq is facing the possibility of renewed fighting in its war against Iran.
GV & CU Iraqi President Saddam Hussein walking through crowds (2 shots)
SV PAN Cheering crowds surrounding President Hussein
TOP VIEW President Hussein walking towards houses
SV President pats child on head and embrace others (2 shots)
SV Cheering crowds
SV INT President Hussein in house with family
GV PAN Crowd on riverbank watch as President Hussein boards boat (2 shots)
SV President Hussein on river surrounding by flotilla
SV Armed guards in boat
SV President Hussein punts down river
SV Cheering crowd on bank
SV INT Men watch as President Hussein greets elder
CU PAN Elder leads men and President Hussein in song
SV EXT Crowd dancing and chanting
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Iraq is facing the possibility of renewed fighting in its war against Iran. With winter almost over, the terrain is dying out, making it possible for tanks to negotiate the flat expanses of Khuzestan. But for the combatants there is more than one front. One major battle is entirely political-- President Saddam Hussein has to ensure the support of his people, especially the support of Shi'ite moslems, whose faith tends to align them with Teheran's clergy rather than Baghdad's ruling Baath Socialist party.
SYNOPSIS: Iraqi television is careful to point to the rousing support President Hussein receives from the people whenever he tours his country. Western defence analysts believe only the downfall of either the regime in Baghdad or the one in Teheran can bring the Gulf war to a swift conclusion.
There is no indication that President Hussein's leadership is seriously threatened, but there are reports of political agitation on both sides of the front. It's now six months since the war began. In Iraq, the politics of fighting a fellow-Islamic country start at the grass-roots -- the methods are those adopted by politicians everywhere.
For President Hussein the war has not brought the swift results he might have hoped for. The armies of the tow Middle East countries have been bogged down on the mud of Khuzestan province almost since hostilities began.
For the President it is politically crucial that while Shi'ite moslems make up more than 50 per cent of Iraq's total population, his government in Baghdad is dominated by the orthodox Sunni sect. But Iran's government dominated by the clergy,is Shi'ite.
The repeated intention of Ayatollah Khomeini to overthrow the secular government in Baghdad is coloured by his strong personal antipathy for the man he believes responsible for turning him out of Iraq at the behest of the late Shah. Iraq agreed to evict the Ayatollah from Majaf, a Shi'ite stronghold south of Baghdad, which Khomeini made his exile headquarters for 17 years after being forced from Iran.
Had Iraq been successful in the early weeks of the war analysis believe President Hussein might have emerged as leader of the Gulf States. But as the war drags on he's having to look more to his own people. The Iraqi government has increased spending on religious affairs and set aside big sums of money for restoring mosques and building new ones. Such tactics have paid off -- more Shi'ite leaders now support the President. But the possibility remains that the longer the Gulf war continues the greater the danger of Shi'ite discontent manifesting itself on a large scale.