The world press on the war

The Daily Telegraph accuses a Labour M.P. of receiving payment from the former Iraqi regime.

Published April 24, 2003 8:22PM (EDT)

United Kingdom, Nicole Martin in the Daily Telegraph

Saddam Hussein's former head of protocol said yesterday that the document found by The Daily Telegraph saying that George Galloway received substantial payments from the Iraqi regime was "100 per cent genuine".

Haitham Rashid Wihaib, who fled to Britain with his family eight years ago after death threats, said he had no doubt that the handwritten confidential memorandum addressed to the dictator's office apparently detailing how the Labour MP benefited from Iraq's oil sales was authentic....

As Mr Galloway continued to denounce the letter as a forgery, Mr Wihaib said he recognised the "clear and distinctive" handwriting as that of Tahir Jalil Habbush Al-Tikriti, head of the Iraqi intelligence service, who is number 14 - the jack of diamonds - on America's "most wanted" list.

"I am 100 per cent certain that this document is genuine," he said, his eyes still fixed on the letter. "As soon as I saw the document I knew it was Habbush's handwriting because it is so distinctive and unusual. This is not ordinary writing. The words are very big, just like sculptures. He writes very well."

As Saddam's head of protocol between 1980 and 1993, Mr Wihaib, 53, was among a coterie of individuals who had regular contact with the dictator.

Asked whether he believed the documents could have been forged and planted as part of smear campaign against Mr Galloway, Mr Wihaib shook his head in disbelief: "I do not believe that anybody in Iraq would play around with Mr Galloway's name or Mr Galloway's money. They are afraid to do this." ...

Mr Wihaib said it was not unusual for Saddam to court political figures such as Mr Galloway who publicly attacked their government's stance towards Iraq.

"He was the type of person that Saddam wanted. He was not only an MP but more importantly part of the Labour Party. He thought it was a huge achievement for him to have someone like Galloway stand up in the Commons and attack the sanctions and accuse the British government of killing Iraqi children.

Saudi Arabia, Editorial in the Arab News

When, shortly before his resignation from the Defense Advisory Board, Richard Perle, one of the architects of the war on Iraq, wrote an article for the Guardian gloatingly announcing the demise of the United Nations, he had a point.

In this case, the validity of a death certificate is not diminished if it comes from one of the killers; and while Perle was serving the ends of the hawks in the White House by declaring the UNs demise  to justify an unjustifiable war  he put his finger on the essential failure of the UN; the failure, again and again, to stop countries from doing what they were always going to do.

The contempt with which regime after regime and country after country have defied UN resolutions, and the failure of the UN to respond to such defiance with anything that would overcome, rather than encourage, such contempt, have been brought, with the war on Iraq, to a head where the UN as it is currently constituted cannot go on. With hindsight, the solemn reports of the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the assembled UN Security Council prior to the war in Iraq seem like an empty charade....

Now, calls from both those who were for the war and from those who were against it that the United Nations must have a role in postwar Iraq  vital, central, or otherwise  sound like empty invocations, figures of speech.

If the UN is ever to have a role other than what the likes of Perle have envisaged for it  as no more than a sort of international ambulance service that mops up after more energetic and more deadly forces have done their worst  it must reform itself radically.

Pakistan, Editorial in Dawn

It is strange that the Bush administration should have reversed its position on weapons inspections with the turn of events in Iraq. On Tuesday, Hans Blix, chief of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, told the Security Council that the inspectors should be allowed to go back to Iraq to complete their job. But the White House made it plain that the inspectors' return was not needed any more because it was now the responsibility of the coalition authorities to discover the weapons of mass destruction. ...

Obviously an American discovery of the WMDs in Iraq will lack credibility. Only a verdict given by Unmovic will be acceptable to the world as genuine. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has not been on the best of terms with Blix. In American eyes, Blix is guilty of two cardinal sins. First, he found no smoking gun in Iraq; second, he cast doubts on the authenticity of the 'evidence' which Washington and London gave to the world of the alleged existence of WMDs in Saddam's Iraq.

The truth is Washington does not want Unmovic to return to Iraq, because it would not want the Blix team to give its final report discounting the existence of the alleged weapons. That would tear apart the fig-leaf of moral and legal justification of America's attack on Iraq. In any case, the discovery or non-discovery of WMDs will make no material difference to the situation because the Saddam regime is no longer there to be either lionized or lynched. If, therefore, there are any WMDs it is Jay Garner who will inherit them. And that makes the situation quite comical.

The tragedy is that all sides seem to be playing politics with the weapons issue and are utterly indifferent to the plight of the Iraqi people, who have been doubly victims of Saddam's tyranny and the UN sanctions. Russia wants inspections to continue only to embarrass America. As for the US, it wants to go it alone. By refusing to let the UN inspectors return, it is basically signalling to the world one obvious point: Iraq is now wholly America's business and no one else's.

Canada, Adnan Khan in Macleans

From now on I've decided to wear a sign slung from my neck that reads: "Adnan R. Khan, non-Muslim." At the risk of sounding trite, it's not fun being a Muslim anymore, either at home in Canada or abroad in the Islamic world. I did fleetingly consider using "infidel" on my sign instead of "non-Muslim," but I felt the word was misleading. After all, "fidelity" is an integral part of who I am; Islam is not, at least not the Islam paraded across television screens, and definitely not the Islam screaming for retribution against the "evil invaders" of Iraq.

My parents are probably cringing after reading that. So for their sake, and for the record, I must stress that I am not anti-Islam. I'm proud of my Islamic heritage. Really. I regularly read works by the 13th-century Muslim visionary, Rumi, and travel back to Pakistan whenever I can. I've even started to appreciate the immense musical value of Koranic recitations. It's the stereotypes that gall me. There's no escaping them these days, even in Islamic countries like Turkey where I am now, and had hoped to blend into the background. Especially in Islamic nations, actually, where being a Muslim in these trying times automatically aligns you with the spiralling communal hatred sweeping across the Arab world against the West. The logic is straightforward: you're brown and you have an Arabic name, therefore you must hate the West.

"Adnan? Ah, a Muslim! Down with Bush!" The refrain has become a bad song haunting my sleepless nights. Worse still, it's not even confined to my head. (If it were only so simple.) I hear it everywhere I go, from Malaysia to Turkey: grizzly old Muslim men chafing my tender cheeks with a flurry of kisses; university students embracing me as a brother, for no other reason than an appellation over which I had no control. And since the onset of war in Iraq, the dilemma has intensified.

Russia, Pavel Felgenhauer in the Moscow Times

A friend of mine, who often goes "behind the wall" to the Kremlin to advise President Vladimir Putin and his aides, told me a couple of days ago: "The crowd in the Kremlin still seems to be in the dark and dismayed over how America won in Iraq."

As time passes, the true picture emerges of complete incompetence in military and political decision-making during the Iraqi crisis that led Russia to spoil relations with Washington and put the nation's future in serious jeopardy. A small group of officials -- Kremlin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, Federation Council foreign affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov and Putin's foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko -- tried desperately to keep alive a pro-U.S. foreign policy but ultimately failed, opposed by the united forces of the anti-U.S. lobby.

The group of pro-Western advisers in the Kremlin became increasingly frustrated. Until the last moment, they hoped that some compromise with Washington on Iraq would be worked out. One of them told me bitterly: "Putin apparently says 'yes' to everyone who comes to his office, whether he is pro or anti-American, and in the end we were simply outnumbered by the pro-Saddam lobby."

Now, those in the Kremlin who got it all wrong by predicting a lengthy bloody war say: The Americans simply bribed the Iraqi generals to disband their army and that explains the fall of Baghdad. It would seem that members of the ruling elite believe their counterparts in other countries are as corrupt as they are.

Interviewed on television this week, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov summarized the attitude of the anti-American majority in the ruling elite when he said: "The American blitzkrieg in Iraq failed." Apparently, utterly defeating a country the size of France with an armed force of 400,000 in three weeks, while losing some 150 allied soldiers, is in Primakov's assessment, "a failed blitz." ...

In 2001, Putin turned Russia toward the United States against the will of the majority of our ruling elite. In 2003, the anti-American elite has managed to regain control of decision-making. Today only Putin can force yet another U-turn, but does he have the will and sufficient understanding of Russia's basic national interests to make it happen?

Ghana, Haruna Attah in the Accra Mail

I dont doubt that the "Coalition of the Willing" will find something.

The justification for their huge "reconstruction" contracts would depend on that. We should not therefore be surprised if in the coming days or weeks we are presented with the "smoking gun".

The surprise for me is that the find has not come sooner. If General Colin Powells UN performance when he presented intelligence evidence to convince the Security Council had any merit, we should have seen tonnes and tonnes of the deadly stuff the moment the coalition stepped foot on Iraqi soil.

Its almost two months now since the war began and about two weeks since it ended, enough time, one should say, for a huge find. ...

Why the hurry to bomb then? Worryingly, the issue of WMDs seems to be receding as the issue of contracts and who should rule Iraq now pre-occupy the coalition.

Whatever it is, my unease simply refuses to go... and for the sake of world peace the threats against the countries that did not support the bombing must not betaken too far. Even Colin Powell, I hear is now threatening France.

And by the way, just a little curiosity: Retired or Former General Garner - thats how BBC refers to Iraqs new Governor General, but Colin Powell is simply referred to as Mr... Just a writers little curiosity...

By Compiled by Laura McClure

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