Iraq-naphobia | Rory's fears over the Middle East


Rory's fears over the Middle East

Saddam's regime may have been toppled along with his statue, Iraq's problems are far from over, as Rory Bremner - along with his partners-in-satire Johns Bird and Fortune- will be examining in a new Channel 4 special next Sunday.

"It picks up from where we left off before the war," Rory explains. "It's a satirical look at the aftermath of the conflict, looking back at what happened and why, and also forward to what might happen next.

"What is really striking about the conflict is that Iraq has been 'liberated' before, by the British in 1917, and there are so many parallels between that liberation and this one.

"It's quite extraordinary the similarities, the way we're still dealing with the exact same issues that we were 85 years ago. And then, like now, people were talking piously about liberation and democracy, when it was really about who had fingers in which pies.

"Israel has already reopened discussions about restoring the oil pipeline from Mosul, in Northern Iraq, to Haifa. And the reconstruction project is another example. Sixty-eight per cent of Republican funding in Congress comes from five of the companies shortlisted for post-war contracts to rebuild Iraq."

Passionate as he is, Bremner is keen to stress that the programme is still written to make people laugh. "It's definitely about entertainment - it's putting across the points in an amusing way. Once it becomes simply preachy, it's pretentious.

"This is a programme written by comedians. It works so well, and is able to pose so many questions, because of the depth of research that has gone into it, to find the salient facts to make the comedy work while making a serious point.

"I like to think it can hold its own with any documentary in terms of allowing people to discover a history about which they knew nothing, and amuse them as well. I hope it's entertaining and astonishing at the same time. People tend to be grateful for a chance to laugh at a serious subject."

Bremner says the pre-war show, Between Iraq and a Hard Place, "created the biggest response of any programme we've ever made. People were surprised by the combination of a humorous take on events with a depth of research and analysis that we hadn't realised before. And it is clearly a subject matter that engages people."

"Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. I find myself astonished at the arrogance and shamelessness of the politicians who are so ready to ignore history and decades of Middle Eastern politics and culture." S

"We should have playing cards with the faces of American conservatives on it. The people in power there are hell bent on world domination.. One of them, Zalmay Khalizdad, has gone on record to say: 'It is vital to preclude the rise of another global rival, even if it means going to war pre-emptively'. And today, he is the US special envoy to Afghanistan."

"The ties between all the main players in the whole business of Iraq and American foreign policy as a whole are quite astonishing. They are all linked, and they all seem to have fingers in pies all over the place. This programme is setting out to understand what lies behind US policy, and where it is heading."

* Beyond Iraq and a Hard Place, Channel 4, Sunday

First published: May 6, 2003

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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