View Full Version : Political Elite Finds A New Home Out Of Harm's Way

12-02-2006, 11:39 PM
Political elite finds a new home out of harm's way


(Gold9472: Well, I'm glad they're taken care of.)

Richard Beeston and Ned Parker

Many of Iraq’s leading politicians have moved quietly back into self-imposed exile in Britain because of the dangers of living and working in Baghdad.

Half a dozen senior figures, including former prime ministers, Cabinet members, and even the heir to the Iraqi throne, have relocated to fashionable areas of London. Scores of other politicians living in Iraq have kept second homes in London as possible bolt holes.

The move has angered Iraqis back home, who complain that they are the same exiled politicians who argued hardest for the US-led invasion.

Adnan Pachachi, the former head of the Iraqi Governing Council and a serving MP in the Iraqi Parliament, said that living and working in the Iraqi capital had become almost impossible. He divides most of his time between his flat in Chelsea and his home in Abu Dhabi.

“Baghdad is very difficult. We have to live in the green zone [protected by US forces]. People can’t come and see us and we can’t get out to see them,” he said.

London has always been the destination of choice for Iraqi émigrés. Many of those who did return home after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein left their families in Britain.

Sharif Ali, the head of the Iraqi Constitutional Monarchy Movement, said that he had relocated because he found it increasingly difficult to work in Iraq. “Half of the Iraqi Government is abroad at any one time,” he said, from his home in Holland Park, West London. “I see this as a transitional period. I plan to return.”

Iyad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister, who moved back to his home in Kingston-upon-Thames to receive medical treatment, said that the situation in Iraq was “alarming and dangerous”. He said in London: “To be honest, this is not something that I could have imagined when we fought Saddam’s regime.”

Two senior figures in the last Iraqi government are also regular visitors to London, where their families live. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the former prime minister, recently returned to be with his family in Wembley. Laith Kubba, his former spokesman, divides his time between his home in Kensal Rise, northwest London, and at a think-tank in Washington.

“I share the view that the atmosphere is impossible. You have to be a thug to survive in Iraqi politics today,” he said, adding that he was prepared to return to Baghdad if asked by the Government.

The departure of the politicians has angered ordinary Iraqis. Shamel Bassem, 28, owner of a mobile-phone shop, said: “These are not Iraqis. They already have another nationality,” he said. “All their properties are in the European countries, the Gulf and Jordan.”

Salam Maahini, 36, a computer engineer, heaped scorn on the exiles. “All of them are mercenaries who rode in on the American tanks, and they will leave with them. Where are Iyad Allawi’s ministers?”

Ahmad Chalabi, once the most forceful advocate of invading Iraq, spent the summer at his Mayfair home, but has now returned to Baghdad. “All those who worked for liberation should be here in Iraq. It is important to feel the pulse, to be with the people,” he said from his home in the Hurriya, a dangerous district of Baghdad.