The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

brief report on Peter Hain's address at CAABU

On Monday evening Peter Hain, the Minister of State with responsibility
for the Middle East, addressed CAABU (the Council for the Advancement of
Arab-British Understanding) on "Britain's Policy in the Middle East".

He spoke from a text prepared for him for about 15 minutes and then
answered questions.  The text (available at did little more than
recapitulate newspaper headlines.  As far as I could tell, there was no
hint of new thinking or policy shifts or hopes.

The question period was dominated by three issues.  The situation in Iraq
was the principal of these, followed by the current Camp David talks and
then the wisdom of Blair's use of a Zionist, Lord Levy, as his personal
envoy to the Middle East.  A journalist present remarked afterwards that
he was surprised, given that Monday's presentation came in the middle of
the Camp David talks, that Iraq still dominated the discussion. 

Hain's approach to the questions on Iraq were taken directly from the FCO
answer book: 1284 is a great opportunity; the Iraqi government must now
take this chance; there's no alternative, etc.  My favourite of these
answers is the suggestion that, rather than complaining about British
policy, we encourage the Iraqi government to behave more civilly.

While convincing no one, I suspect, Hain is felt to have done a better job
handling himself than his predecessor Geoff Hoon, who spoke at a similar
CAABU meeting last year.  Hoon apparently refused to admit that there were
any problems with current policy, and therefore presented himself much
less sympathetically.

There were at least four forms of opposition to Hain's remarks,
particularly those on Iraq.  First, Voices in the Wilderness was present
with banners and handed out flyers for the 7 August die in
(  Second, there was heckling (calls of
"gencide" etc).  Third were the questions put to Hain.  Finally, and the
one that surprised me the most, were the noises of genuine disgust from
the audience.  These struck me as unrehearsed visceral responses to the
completely unpalateable.  As someone who's often thought about my concerns
the the people of Iraq as an unusual concern I was impressed to be
reminded that this really is the majority view among the informed

Best wishes,

Colin Rowat

Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq               fax 0870 063 5022
                    are you on our announcements list?

393 King's College  
Cambridge CB2 1ST             tel: +44 (0)7768 056 984
England                       fax: +44 (0)8700 634 984

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]