Iraqi President Saddam Hussein vowed Thursday to continue the struggle against the U.S.-led multinational force, appearing to reject a Soviet peace initiative and accusing Arab and allied leaders of wanting to strip his nation.
Saddam said Iraq's foes want Baghdad to surrender "but of course they will be disappointed."The Iraqi leader, who appeared to reject a Soviet peace plan already deemed unacceptable by President Bush and other Western leaders, said the allies have not felt the full force of the Iraqi army and predicted victory and martyrdom for his nation.
In a defiant speech broadcast over Baghdad Radio, Saddam launched bitter attacks against King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, accusing them of lacking honor, dignity and Arab patriotism. He accused them of hating the Iraqi people.
"(Fahd and Mubarak) chose to reject dignity, honesty and patriotism. They chose to reject the noble principles of Arab nationalism. Some Arab rulers hate our people and want war against us. They have no honor."
Saddam singled out Mubarak for particular criticism, accusing the Egyptian leader of malice against the Iraqi leadership.
"He has deep-rooted malice against the Iraqi leadership. We are always saying that we want the Egyptian people to be our real brothers, but they have been opposed to us. These people are no good for the Iraqis anyway," he said.
Saddam condemned Bush for rejecting Iraq's conditional offer last week to withdraw from Kuwait, accusing the allied leaders of expanding their goals.
"We are alert to their schemes. Their desires will be frustrated. Our people and armed forces are willing to sacrifice (themselves) because every step we make should be reciprocated. If the initiative is rejected, then this reveals their intentions and we will continue the struggle," he said.
Saddam accused the Arab forces aligned against him of losing all honor in helping Western powers fight Arab Iraq.
"They have no honor left . . . they have no faith left. Our great Iraqi people are proud people, and our Arab nation is a proud nation with deep-rooted faith.
"There is no road but this road that we have chosen, and we have chosen the path of struggle."
The Iraqi leader said Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz's visit to Moscow late Thursday with Saddam's reply to a Soviet peace initiative was apparently in vain.
In Paris, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said Baghdad's response to the Gorbachev initiative was not "going as well as it had at first appeared" and accused Saddam of being "lazy. We nevertheless continue to hope that Iraq will respond clearly and positively (to the plan)."
Velayati said Iran, India, Yugoslavia and Cuba would meet Sunday in Tehran to review the crisis and perhaps send a delegation in a final effort to persuade Saddam to end the war.
The New York Times quoted Western diplomats Thursday as saying the United States and Britain have told the Soviet Union its proposal is unacceptable because it lacks a tight timetable for Iraqi withdrawal.
The Washington Post, quoting diplomatic and Bush administration sources, reported Thursday that Bush has told Gorbachev the peace plan should include Iraqi withdrawal within four days after its agreement to leave, the immediate release of all prisoners of war and disclosure of the location of all mines.
Whatever the wording of the plan, Washington has said it will not go along with any plan that seems to reward Saddam for aggression.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told Congress Thursday the allied forces are preparing "one of the largest land assaults of modern times" and are confident of prevailing against Iraq.
In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on next year's budget, Cheney offered no hints of when the land war might begin.
He said the "precise course" of the war was unpredictable. "Nonetheless, we are confident that ultimately we will prevail," he said. "In the near future, one way or another, Iraqi forces will leave Kuwait."