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Iraqis are right to resist, says Galloway

November 19, 2003
by Michael Settle,

GEORGE Galloway yesterday equated the right of Iraqis to resist coalition forces with the right Britons would have had to fight back, had Adolf Hitler crossed the Channel.

The Independent Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin said Iraqis resisting the US-led occupation of their country had a "legal and moral right" to do so, and warned that the attacks on coalition forces would grow "probably exponentially" between now and next June, when an interim Iraqi government is due to be established.

"Iraqi resistance will continue against all foreign forces . . . They have a legal and moral right to oppose occupying forces in their country," argued Mr Galloway, who said Britons would have had the same right if "Hitler had crossed the Channel".

Mr Galloway, expelled from the Labour party last month for comments about the war in Iraq, also suggested the number of coalition bodybags would increase as more American, British, Italian, and other coalition soldiers were "sent to die for George Bush and Tony Blair in the streets and deserts of Iraq".

When asked if he was positively supporting the Iraqi resistance, Mr Galloway said: "It's not necessary for me to have a view on whether they should or should not be exercising their right to resist; that's a matter for them."

He referred to a CIA report that reportedly alluded to 50,000 members of the Iraqi resistance, and argued that it could not operate effectively if it did not have at least the tacit support of "huge" numbers of ordinary Iraqis.

The MP, who will stand on an anti-war ticket in next June's European elections, made it clear that the only forces that had any legitimacy in trying to rebuild Iraq were Arab ones, and the Arab League was probably the sole organisation that had any hope of success in this context.

Last night, he spoke at an anti-war rally in London alongside Tony Benn, the veteran left-winger, and Harold Pinter, the radical playwright.

Earlier, speaking at a press conference for foreign journalists near Whitehall, Mr Galloway branded the Bush visit "an insult and an injury" and said it had been arranged to help the president's bid for re-election.

"Most Labour people will hang their heads in shame when they see Prime Minister Blair cavorting with President Bush in the next three days," he claimed.

He added that he did not believe the poll that yesterday suggested most people welcomed the visit. "It is a statistical blip," he insisted.

The MP, who last month was kicked out of the Labour party following his outspoken anti-war views, launched a scathing attack on the prime minister and said Labour was "haemorrhaging" support in heartlands such as Scotland.

The back bencher continued: "Unless Labour rid themselves of this anti-Labour clique . . . and find themselves a new leadership and a path back to what Labour is supposed to stand for, then I believe their days are numbered."

He said the likes of Mr Blair and Peter Mandelson, the former cabinet minister, had "hijacked" Labour and were intent on "liquidating" it. Gordon Brown, he argued, was "more of a Labour man" than the prime minister and would make a better leader, "but only just".

Mr Galloway said that if the chancellor as leader reversed course and returned to "the Labour way", then that would be a good thing, but, given that Mr Brown could not even get on Labour's ruling council, he added: "I would not buy shares in Gordon Brown."

Elsewhere, Brian Wilson, Mr Blair's special representative on trade and reconstruction in Iraq, said he would "not concede an inch of moral high ground" to those whose alternative scenarios for Iraq would have left Saddam Hussein's regime still in power.

Speaking at Glasgow Caledonian University, the MP for Cunninghame North stressed he was "genuinely puzzled" why anyone could take an absolutist view against intervention in light of the "indisputable fact" that it had removed a tyranny that was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq.

Scotland Yard brushed aside a claim by Michael Portillo, the former Tory defence secretary, who argued that British police could not be trusted to protect Mr Bush during his visit after they failed to protect the royal family from "a joker dressed as Osama bin Laden". Andy Trotter, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, said he found the MP's claims "almost bemusing", adding: "We can put security on that is second to none."

Reproduced from:

Copyright 2003 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited.

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