Skip to comments.Saddam's friend Galloway keeps odd company in Baghdad
Posted on 05/05/2002 5:31:49 PM PDT by dighton
GEORGE GALLOWAY, the Labour backbencher, and Jörg Haider, the far-Right Austrian politician, trampled on the face of George Bush Snr yesterday after they arrived in Baghdad to appeal for an end to sanctions on Iraq.
Mr Galloway, a campaigner against the American-led embargo, found himself in unexpected company during his second visit to Baghdad this year.
Like all the politicians who make regular trips, he was staying at the al-Rashid Hotel, which has a lurid mural of Mr Bush's face set in the marble floor of its entrance.
The modest lobby is festooned with Saddam memorabilia: 18 portraits of the leader resting on a row of easels, four colour posters staring from the walls and one black and white picture of the "hero of the Iraqi people".
Saddam the soldier and Saddam the Bedouin tribesman are shown alongside Saddam drinking tea, Saddam puffing a cigar, Saddam beaming menacingly and Saddam with his brow furrowed in pious reflection. He is also pictured leaning on a walking stick and proffering a bouquet of carnations.
A vast birthday cake, with tiers of pink and green icing reaching almost to the roof, completes the display. The mural of Mr Bush, who is portrayed with a look of astonishment on his face, bears the slogan: "Bush is criminal".
Nearby a poster of a blonde girl in a red bikini advertises the health club.
Mr Galloway is due to meet Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, and will address a Conference of Solidarity with the Iraqi People.
Travelling with him are Kerry Pollard, Labour MP for St Albans, Lord Rea, a Labour peer, and Robert Wareing, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, who was suspended from the Commons during the last parliament for failing to declare his business interests in Serbia.
Sitting in the hotel coffee shop, the most expensive in Baghdad, Mr Galloway claimed that his campaign against America's threatened war against Iraq was attracting growing support.
"Opinion in Parliament is at a high tide of opposition to war and Tony Blair has to take cognisance of that," he said.
Mr Galloway, MP for Glasgow Hillhead, believes that the "$64,000 question" is whether Britain will go along with any American moves to manufacture a pretext for toppling Saddam by force.
"Mr Blair is answerable to Britain and ultimately Prime Ministers come back to earth with a bump if they forget that," he said.
As he spoke Mr Galloway smoked a large cigar. He lapsed into silence as Mr Haider, with five male companions, occupied a table at the far end of the coffee shop.
Members of Mr Galloway's party exchanged shocked glances. One suggested that they should emulate the scene from Casablanca when the patrons of Rick's cafe defy the Germans by rising to sing the Marseillaise.
Mr Galloway explained that he was very tired after an overland journey from Amman, the Jordanian capital, and retired to his room.
Asked why he was in Baghdad, Mr Haider replied: "I make holidays here."
Members of Mr Galloway's party exchanged shocked glances.
How can any member of the British government be SHOCKED seeing Haider with his male "companions".
What does Galloway think Saddam is doing to him as he flirts on the edges of decency in Baghdad ?
Let's hope the Pentagon is planning to destroy the al-Rashid Hotel and the control tower of the Baghdad International Airport on Day One of the war.
The Geneva Conventions do not require that we provide transport and hotel facilities for the mob of anti-American Euroliars who will flood Iraq once the war starts ... if we let them.
He named Mr Galloway and The Independent newspaper's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.
Always thought Malkovich as a terrific actor, now I admire him even more as a man.
I think I would target that hotel to be hit about five minutes after the hostilities begin. That way its destruction will get maximum live coverage.