The Power of Saddam's Voice

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Saddam Hussein knows what to do to maintain his grip over his people: have them hear his voice day and night. He knows that for Iraqis, the radio has always been a pivotal factor in determining who is in power — and who can cause harm. So long as they keep hearing the domineering and bullying Saddam, nobody will ever stage any action in the streets of Baghdad. It is part of the culture of terror he nurtured over the past two decades.

Official radio stations beam nothing but songs and speeches on and by Hussein, and these are heard on virtually every crossroad and intersection, blared out by blistering loudspeakers. Those speakers are positioned near police outposts, and Saddam's Baath Party operatives closely monitor the policemen to make sure that the Iraqi leader's voice continues to be heard. The elite party leaders are still enforcing the regime's commands. They roam the streets with high-powered four-wheelers (as opposed to the dilapidated and outdated cars owned by the rest of the public) and they're especially busy during the air raids. The sector of the city most closely monitored is Saddam city, formerly called the Tharwa quarter, which is home to some two million Shiite residents. Their movements are heavily curtailed.