NICOSIA, CYPRUS — IRAQ tried bombast and reason to counter United States plans to create a "no fly" zone over southern Iraq: warning Western powers they will land in a watery grave, and attempting to show reporters that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's troops are no threat to the Shiite rebels.
"We will tear them to pieces ... and the marshes will be the graveyards to the invaders," Iraq's Army newspaper, Al-Qaddissiya said on Sunday. "The aggressors have no one but themselves to blame," the newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
Over the weekend, Iraq took about 40 journalists on a helicopter tour of southern Iraq. They visited several cities and towns on the tour, but were shown no evidence of any major Iraqi military operation, although there were military checkpoints and soldiers on the streets.
President Saddam urged Iraqis to be "aware of their national and patriotic responsibilities" and protect the nation against those who wish "evil for the country," said the official Iraqi News Agency, monitored in Cyprus.
Al-Qaddissiya described President Bush as a "cursed criminal," British Prime Minister John Major as "worthless," and French President Francois Mitterrand as "the mean old man."