Thursday, April 10, 2003

Kirkuk has fallen to the Kurds - and already Turkey is saying this is 'unacceptable' and are sending (with the knowledge of the U.S.) 'military observers' to the area. The threat of Kurdish national aspirations to the territorial integrity of Turkey, Iraq and Iran (or, more crudely, none of them want to give the Kurds a homeland) was one of the main reasons George Bush Senior didn't go to Baghdad in 1991. Nick Cohen writes 'now let the oppressed Kurds find a home at last' but seems to have no idea of how this might be accomplished. Don't worry Nick, I haven't either - unless the U.S. are prepared to seriously upset Turkey, Iraq (again), Iran and probably Syria. Of course, they may already be planning to seriously upset Iran and Syria - but Turkey ? We shall see - but do you really want to scrap with the Turks ?

The BNP's war has been as opportunistic as the Liberal Democrats - with
a teensy hint of anti-Semitism to boot. Their attitude to the Israeli / Palestine question and to the War On Terror is that they support the Palestinians and think Iraq is all about oil, attitudes which most Guardianistas would approve of wholeheartedly. I can't work out whether on Palestine they subscribe to the concept of the Noble Arab (an attitude held by the Foreign Office for most of the 20th century) or whether they still believe that the triumph of Bolshevism is the aim of International Jewry.

But they have got a fascinating download of a Home Office tenancy agreement for use by local councils finding acommodation for asylum seekers. If their reading is correct (and I haven't waded through all 46 pages yet) the agreement does seem to be generous to say the least. Wouldn't we all like accommodation with free rent, water rates, gas, electricity, phone and council tax bills - not to mention a new 20 inch TV and licence for it ? If true, the document is political dynamite. Or is this a Zinoviev-letter-style forgery, cunningly planted by MI5 to discredit them ? Dunno mate.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Strange thing, the BBC

Before the war began you could only hear anti-war voices, during it you began to hear Iraqi exiles who supported GWB, and as I write (Saddam's statue has just fallen) Radio 5 seems to have an inexhaustible supply of ecstatic exiles ringing in, Rageh Omar in Baghdad is handing his mobile to Baghdadis too tearful to say much, and general anti-Saddam hysteria seems to have infected Shepherd's Bush. Mind you, the scenes as the statue fell were enough to bring a lump to the throat - until the camera panned back to reveal a surprisingly small crowd. After all, if the Soviet Union had staged a lightening coup in 1990, you'd have had more people than that on London's streets to destroy all traces of the hated Thatcher regime.

It'll be interesting to see if the crowds get bigger - or will survival be the biggest worry for most Iraqis ? The US and Brits are going to have to turn themselves into aid workers and/or policemen with some speed. When a strong police state collapses, anarchy often follows - and strangely people don't seem to enjoy it as much as young UK anarchists, many of whom will soon be on London's streets for the annual May Day riots, might think. In fact considering the damage done to Churchill's statue two years ago, were I the Met commissioner I'd be wary of any tow trucks near Parliament Square come May 1st.

Night is falling in Baghdad. Let's hope they don't wake up to a looted and burning city tomorrow. I'm very pleased - but it seems to me that for the Coalition the hard work has only just begun.

I wonder what George Galloway is thinking ? Not to mention the Stop The War Coalition. Their wish is granted !

Well, well

They really are dancing in the streets of Baghdad.

What a depressing sight that must be for the pro-Saddam crowd, and how cheered Johann Hari, Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen must be.

However the widespread looting will need attention soon - already in Basra distressed Iraqis are haranguing the troops about their lack of activity as criminals steal everything that isn't nailed down.
Whatever happened to 'looters will be shot' ? Instead a Brit officer was explaining on the BBC this morn how it was the inevitable consequence of years of Saddamite repression. He didn't quite add 'just as UK crime is a consequence of social exclusion' but he seemed to have absorbed the liberal worldview on crime pretty well.

Looting has taken place in many societies after the fall of a regime - in the former Soviet Union it was called 'privatisation' and at least didn't involve ruining small private businesses - as there weren't any. If we're not careful the very people who could help rebuild Iraqi society could be ruined and alienated.

Where is Saddam ? Retreating to Tikrit ? Planning some final chemical or biological Gotterdammerung ? I would bet the Syrian border is being carefully watched. If only he'd retired to Saudi four months ago. Sure, the Guardianistas would have moaned about
a murderer escaping justice but think of the saving in life and property. But I guess Saddam would see it as 'death before dishonour' and remember his place in history - though I think a million dead in the first Gulf War (this one is the third, not the second, you western-centred commentators) and Halabja are more likely to be his memorials.

As I write Gordon Brown is droning away about his plans for helping British business. Reminds me of the old New Internationalist cartoon of the plutocrat sitting on the back of the peasant, saying 'I will do everything in my power to help you - except getting off your back'. His last budget was the most expensive suicide note in history and was notable for the way in which (via the tax credit system) it made well over two thirds of the population the beneficiaries of social security.

Lloyd George is currently rotating at 7,500 r.p.m.

Interesting article in yesterdays Indie - Piers Morgan has indeed done an about-turn on the war. I imagine the Indie, unlike the Mirror, hasn't suffered too much for its antiwar stance, as it lost most of its readers some years back when it took the decision to exploit that fertile readership territory to the left of the Guardian. The rump of its readership (both of them) are doubtless fully supportive of the paper's anti-war stance.