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Re: House of Commons Debate (circulated by Daniel Blaney, 30/6/99)

On Sat, 3 Jul 1999, Harriet Griffin wrote:

> > Open criticism of the sanctions regime and exposure of the DU issue within
> > the House is very important, and George Galloway has always been one of
> > the most outspoken. However, I am alarmed by the tacit support shown by
> > George Galloway for the Iraqi government, implicit in the words "The
> > character of the Iraqi regime has been effectively carpet bombed on many
> > occasions by hon. Members throughout the House."

Although Galloway's language was ambiguous, he certainly doesn't
support the regime. In other speeches, if my memory serves me right, he has 
begun by condemning Saddam Hussein, as have other anti-sanctions MPs. It
is vital for them to do so, for if they don't, the government immediately
accuses them of being pro-Saddam by default, but it must be a bit wearying
to have to start every speech on Iraq with 'Saddam is a brutal dictator
but.....' Reading the context of what Galloway said, I think he meant:
'Lots has been said about the brutality of the regime, including by me. I
don't have time to repeat myself, so I hope my opposition will be taken as
read.' However his use of the expression 'carpet bombing' is unfortunate
as it implies that it is unjust. As for his famous comment in 1991? when
he met Saddam Hussein ('We salute you'), he has said that he was
addressing the Iraqi people, not Hussein.

>I shall start by telling the Minister what I am not going to talk about.
>The character of the Iraqi regime has been effectively carpet bombed on
>many occasions by hon. Members throughout the House. In the 15 minutes
>available to me, I do not intend to add to the many statements, speeches
>and interventions on the subject that I have made over the years. I hope
>that my hon. Friend will take them as read.

It is worrying, however, if Iraqi exiles have the perception that
anti-sanctions groups are pro-Saddam. It is extremely valuable to have
their support, since their opposition to sanctions belies the claim
that sanctions might improve human rights in Iraq. The situation might be
improved if:

1. The Emergency Committe is told that it is perceived by some Iraqi
exiles as being pro-Saddam, so that it can work harder to change this
2. Anti-sanctions groups such as CASI make contacts with exile groups to
open a dialogue with them.

What do other people think?

Eleanor Coghill

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