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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thousands Picket UN Offices in Arab Cities

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in some Arab capitals Monday to protest a possible U.S. war on Iraq, labeling President George W. Bush a "butcher" and his administration "arrogant."

People demonstrated outside UN offices in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain hours before a deadline for a report by arms inspectors on Iraq's cooperation in their hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

Also, in India's financial capital, Bombay, about 1,000 protesters against war on Iraq shouted anti-American slogans as they marched through the crowded streets, blocking traffic.

Demonstrators in Damascus gathered outside the UN office, where they chanted slogans, calling Bush a "criminal and a butcher" and demanding he ditch his "plan" to attack Iraq.

"We sacrifice our souls and blood for Iraq," chanted young demonstrators. "America wants to dominate us, it wants to weaken us and to destroy Iraq to control its oil," said student Housam Halabi, echoing a view shared by many Syrians and Arabs.

In the Yemeni capital, leaders from the ruling and opposition political parties led tens of thousands of Yemenis in a protest march from a main square to the UN office to deliver a message demanding the world body step in to prevent the war.

"No to an attack on Iraq. No to American arrogance," one banner read.

The head of Yemen's Islamist opposition Islah Party, Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, slammed what he called the "blood suckers" in the U.S. administration who are pushing for war.

"Those who are amassing fleets speak with arrogance and their aim is to destroy Iraq's ... achievements and to control its oil that is making the blood suckers in the U.S. administration drool," Ahmar said.

Most Arab countries oppose a war against Iraq, fearing it would further destabilize the Middle East, and advocate instead a peaceful solution to the crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies having any such weapons.

The protests come at a time of heightened anti-U.S. sentiment among ordinary Arabs already angry at what they see as Washington's blind support for Israel, which is battling a Palestinian independence uprising.

In the Bahraini capital, Manama, about 100 youths asked the United Nations to prevent the United States from launching a war on Iraq.

Carrying banners saying "No to war in Iraq" and "Death to America," they delivered a letter asking the United Nations to fight poverty and illiteracy rather than provide authorization for a war on Iraq.

"We are asking for peace and we want the United Nations to hear our pleas to save the Iraqi people," said 20-year-old civil engineering student Ebtisam al-Shenoo, standing underneath blood red banners and fluttering Iraqi flags.

"We want to reach them [the United Nations] before they make any decision," marketing student Nidhal al-Qassab said, adding that he hoped the United Nations will prevent a war.

"If the United Nations doesn't have the power [to do that], then there is no reason for it to exist."