Friday, February 04, 2005

How strange!

Over at the Daily Kos, an interesting story is up concerning the Iraqi woman who appeared with George Bush at the State of the Union address. If you recall, she was the one who hugged the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. It turns out that she has every reason to be grateful to George Bush, as after all the Interim Government he appointed gave her a job, and moreover one that didn't involve actually going to Iraq. (Where she hasn't been since the age of three, in 1968.) Not only that, but back before the war she was the author of a paper published by a rightwing think tank whose directors include a full spectrum of Washington conservatism on the plight of Iraqi women. Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, James Woolsey, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, they're all there.

None of this was mentioned at the time.

This was all strangely familiar.

Back last year, on the 1st of October, Tony Blair had to face a discontented Labour Party conference. Things were a little tense, but he came through the big test when the four biggest trade unions affiliated to the party were persuaded to vote against setting a date for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq. During the debate, as the Guardian reports, an Iraqi woman, Shanaz Rashid, spoke on the platform as follows:
"Please don't desert us in our hour of need. Don't let the men of violence use terror to deny the Iraqi people their freedom. Some of you may feel you can attack your leader over Iraq, but it is Mr Blair who has stood up to Saddam and freed my people, who for the past 35 years have suffered destruction, humiliation, chemical weapons attacks, poverty, torture and rape.

Yes, there have been difficulties. Yes, there have been mistakes; perhaps many mistakes. No, you did not find weapons of mass destruction. But for the great majority of Iraqis, WMD was never the issue. We don't understand the criticism of your prime minister. All we wanted was to be free; free - just free....[quote from the Guardian's account]

"Please, please do not desert us in our hour of need," she said, tears running down her cheeks. "I appeal to you, help us build a new democratic Iraq."[from The Scotsman's version]
Excellent well, rah-rah and Rule, Britannia! The fly in the ointment, though, as a few media pointed out, is that she had been living in a well-off suburb of London since the age of 18 and was married to a man who had the best reasons to be grateful to Tony Blair.

Because he (Abdul Latif Rashid) is Iraq's new Minister of Waterways, a representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a graduate of Manchester University and a former executive with British construction firm Halcrow. (Note that the sourcing for the detail about Halcrow is flaky. But, it further occurs to me, they are one of the very few British companies to get any reconstruction contracts.) None of this, it goes without saying, was mentioned in Blair's speech or in that by Shahid Malik of the Labour National Executive Committee introducing the leadership's motion.

How odd.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I would just like to reply to your comment about Abdul latif Rashid and Shanaz Rashid. If there is anybody who has been through hell and back to try and get rid of saddam Hussein and his murderous Baath party it is them and their family. They have lost loved ones, and friend due to the dictators regime they have spent their whole lives devoted to see a free Iraq, and a prosperous Kurdistan. Who are you to question them? they have seen what you cannot even imagine in your most terrifying nightmares, if you are man enough you would praise the liberating forces who laid their lives to see another country free from terror and free from the most inhumane crimes, you would praise the leaders who decided to liberate a country beaten by police, raped by saddams henchmen and murdered by the butcher just for wanting a life without fear and most of all you should praise them for what they are doing to reconstruct the new FREE LIBERATED Iraq.

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