Sunday, July 11, 2004
Zemblan patriot K.Z. is our guide on an excursion into the fetid, steamy, crocodile-infested heart of darkest Tinfoilia. We climb aboard the barge with our usual disclaimer: it's not that we actually buy into the native lore; it's just that we take a purely sociological interest in what the primitive local mystics have to say. (Although we have to admit that recent circumstances have nudged us to unprecedented levels of open-mindedness):
When Yevgeny Primakov, former Russian Prime Minister and head of the Secret Service, speaks on the Middle East, the world had better listen. He has been a genuine Arabist and one who knew Saddam Hussein well. As the world wondered how Saddam materialised in a Baghdad court room last week, Primakov, in an interview to the Russian daily Gazeta, helped lift some of the mist. He said the former Iraqi dictator cut a deal with the US before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. ‘‘There was an understanding with the Americans, paradoxical as it may seem’’.
Primakov has asked some pertinent questions. ‘‘Why weren’t the bridges on the Tigris blown up when the American tanks approached Baghdad? Why weren’t Iraqi aviation and tanks used? And where are they now?’’ The Americans found no WMDs. But where is the conventional arsenal? ‘‘Why was there an immediate ceasefire? Why was there practically no resistance a year ago?’’
Primakov was Russian Foreign Minister and made two secret visits to Iraq a few days before the Anglo-American invasion. He has placed a question mark even on the authenticity of the footage of Saddam Hussein’s capture on December 14. ‘‘They showed two soldiers with guns near some palm trees close to the hole where Saddam was reportedly hiding.’’ Primakov observes, ‘‘At that time of the year, date palms are never in bloom’’.