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Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 22:39 GMT
UK Iraq policy 'bonkers'
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein - made popular by sanctions?
A Labour MP has branded the West's sanctions policy towards Iraq as "bonkers" saying it had transformed President Saddam Hussein into "one of the most popular political leaders in the world".

George Galloway, a long-time opponent of sanctions, said that not only had the sanctions inflicted huge suffering on ordinary Iraqis but that they had reinforced Saddam's position by making him appear to be a victim of Western aggression.

So this policy is berserk, it's bonkers, quite apart from being immoral in my view

George Galloway
Mr Galloway, who has repeatedly visited Iraq and is off on another trip to the Gulf country, said that the Iraqi government was becoming "stronger and stronger"

He said that its popularity extended "throughout the Third World, the Arab world, the Muslim world, (more) than it could ever have dreamt possible".

"One of the great achievements of this sanctions policy, and the policy of aggression against Iraq, is that Saddam Hussein is one of the most popular political leaders in the world.

"His pictures are being held aloft in demonstrations in all manner of places ... If you look at the uprising in Palestine for example, you will not see a single demonstration or funeral procession in the Intafada which is not bearing aloft Iraqi flags and pictures of the Iraqi president..

George Galloway
Galloway has repeatedly visited Iraq
"The reality is that these sanctions provide an alibi for Saddam, they provide a means whereby a certain class in Iraq can become rich through smuggling ... and which strengthen the regime while devastating the people.

"So this policy is berserk, it's bonkers, quite apart from being immoral in my view," Mr Galloway told BBC Radio 5 Live.

The Glasgow Kelvin MP urged Western governments which back the sanctions, including the UK and US, to rethink the strategy.

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See also:

01 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iraq trade fair hits UN embargo
09 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Protesters pelt Blair
09 Jan 01 | Middle East
UK denies Iraq U-turn
06 Jan 01 | Middle East
Iraqis counter Saddam health rumours
24 Jan 99 | Middle East
Saddam Hussein: His rise to power
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