The King's Gambit
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A fictional examination of the road to the 1991 GULF WAR
(c) Tony Goddard, Sheffield 1990
THE KING'S GAMBIT
PROPOSAL FOR A RADIO PLAY
SADDAM HUSAYN (Saddam)
MARGARET THATCHER (Maggie)
THE AYETOLLAH KHOMEINI'S GHOST
KING FAHD (Fahd)
MILITARY AND CIVILIAN DIGNITARIES
TRANSLATOR, or NARRATOR (X)
MARXISTS IN THE GULF
HAMZA AL SAID
ACT I KING FAHD - MAGGIE THATCHER
ACT II KING FAHD - SADDAM HUSAYN
ACT III SADDAM HUSAYN - GHOST OF AYETOLLAH KHOMEINI
ACT IV GHOST OF AYETOLLAH KHOMEINI - MAGGIE THATCHER
ACT V MARXIST COMMITTEE MEETING
THE KING'S GAMBIT
Thatcher and Fahd are drinking tea, surrounded by officials.
X: Maggie has just finished a successful arms selling tour. This is a
happy occasion, because the tide has turned in the war against Iran.
FAHD: Kif as-souk as-sillah ?
X: How is business Maggie ?
MAGGIE: I have just had a fantastic time. The malaysian prime
minister has just jailed all his political opponents, and I've been
able to get him to buy fifty front line jet fighters. We love these
people: they are so good for british business. It really helped that
Arthit was asking the yanks to supply Thailand with F-16's. We can go
ahead and get Singapore to buy some more self defense kit later on.
Nice to have these moslem fanatics knocking on Lee's door.
FAHD: General Zia asked me to lend him some more money yesterday, but
it will have to be the yanks. He also wants F-16's, but frankly I no
longer trust him. The Pakis are a bit too sympathetic to the
ayetollah if you ask me, and my arms policy for the afghan
mujehaddeen seems to be hurting poor old Saddam a bit. Those
scoundrels come here and claim to be fighting a jihad against the
godless commies, but those same godless commies have been making
friendly noises round here recently. Kuwait has even gone and put
russian flags on some of their ships. The russians need bread, and
we've already started selling food to them. They are also allowing my
publishing house to export the koran to soviet muslims, and with luck
we can contain the iranian revolution. We are quite keen to get some
of our tame ulema to outflank those shiite wretches, and quite
frankly I don't have much time for the afghan mujehaddeen. All they
want to do is to sell heroin and hashish, and we can already get as
much as we want from Lebanon and Syria. In fact some of my friends in
the Bekaa are quite anxious that the peninsula is not swamped with
dope from afghanistan.
Do you know that an afghani got up and denounced us all as
bad muslims during the last big islamic conference in Kuwait. And
these same men let their arms convoys get hijacked by iranian
revolutionary guards. More likely a swap for more opium.
Maggie: B'allah. How complicated are your politics, your highness.
Thank god I only have to deal with Arthur Scargill, and the I.R.A.
Compared with me, you are a real strategist. You appear to be
balancing East with West, and doing far more than the I.R.A. to fight
imperialism. You are able to combine our western free market
philosophy with the single monopoly of power so much loved by the
communist parties who you are so energetically opposing for us all.
Fahd: My big family is our Saudi Communist Party. We have a much
better thing than dialectic materialism to hoodwink the masses. They
think that we are carrying out a fantastic anti-imperialist struggle
every time we censor a newspaper, or cut off some one's head in
public. We are able to show how the arab tradition is capable of
resisting western encroachment. We are ordering the most highly
trained sniffer dogs from the U.S. coast guard to protect ourselves
from the twin demons of drugs and terrorism, and in this we are able
to link hands with Douglas Hurd and George Bush.
By protecting the holy shrines against hippies and long hair
and free speech we are carrying out our god ordained task.
Maggie: Three cheers. We have had trouble with hippies in England.
Stone Henge is an old artifact near London, and there are some who
believe it a holy place. These scum are nothing but pagans, and
heretics. Some of them even believe that industrialisation is
destroying the planet. My feudal supporters had to deploy a big
police operation to drive them off last summer. Just like the
iranians at Makkah no doubt.
Fahd: Does Stone Henge yet have tunnels and flyovers? You know I
recently issued a decree protecting all mosques against development,
except for tunnels and flyovers. That's the trouble with being in a
large family. All my relatives want their own road projects. And
unlike Kuwait, we are a large country. Our system will never be
finished, and already we are running out of money.
Maggie: Maybe some of your relatives just take this 'road money' to
the casinos of Europe ?
Fahd: No, not at all. That is scholarship money for the study of
mathematics. In our language sport, training, and mathematics are all
the same word. Where best can we combine these, but in a casino. We
arabs love gambling. The students of arab and islamic history are
taught a thing or two. What are the two main qualities of an arab?
His bravery! His generosity! This is part of our religion.
Maggie: Well this is certainly how the London club owners see you.
How many oil wells do you put on a pair of kings? Without the oil
sheikhs many of these establishments could hardly function. And in
all honesty some of my arms dealers have said the same thing. Without
the Gulf, and the Gulf War there would be many more on the dole
queues back in England. We really need the sort of stability which
the monarchies bring to the Gulf.
Fahd: Pity about Pahlavi. The shah. Of course the rot set in when he
invited all those dignitaries to the celebrations at Persepolis. It's
too bad to stress pre-islamic history around these parts. The fool
should have looked after the ayetollahs, like I look after the ulema.
You must have seen how often I keep open house round here. They have
eaten from my family's table for generations, and we are not afraid
of the riff raff like you, Maggie. My predecessor, Faisal, got
himself shot, but so what. Insh' Allah. That is the will of god, and
none of us are afraid of that here. OK, we do have the armour plated
limos, but some of my young cousins don't mind the odd citroen 2CV.
We do prefer freedom to dignity at times.
Maggie: But you don't have to worry about the I.R.A.
Fahd: I.R.A. They are a joke. My home grown communist party go to
Beirut when they want a bit of peace and quiet. Can you imagine that
! It seems funny that your army can deal with my neighbour's tribal
rebels in the Jabal al-Akhdar, while you cannot drive your own rebels
out of Armagh.
Maggie: Well the I.R.A. are a big threat to me. They tried to blow me
up in Brighton. At least the Omani communist party keep out of
british domestic politics. It's therefore very simple to deal with
them. I can force any political compromise I like on Qaboos, and get
him to invite the rebels into his government. Unfortunately my own
party will not let me make the same compromises close to home. That
is the secret of world domination. We are able to call yesterday's
terrorists today's friends and as long as they are outside the UK no
one could care a damn. Look how gallantly Pol-Pot is defending
freedom in Kampuchea.
Fahd: You're not asking for my money to subsidise him ?
Maggie: No. Not at the moment. But we are having problems with our
railways. Don't you think you could organise another whip round to
help me with some more of my privatisations. You and the other
sheikhs managed quite well with the channel tunnel.
Fahd: Don't you think you could earn the gratitude of the english
people by dealing with the I.R.A ? Try family politics. You always
get people to talk about that at the Tory Party Conference. Pension
off Elizabeth, and get Mark to marry Bernadette Devlin. Let him
become a moslem so that he can have more wives. Abolish political
parties, and give the power of life and death to your land owners and
businessmen. Instead of having the I.R.A. buy semtex from colonel
Ghadafi, supply your army with second hand tanks from the Libyan
desert. They don't rust there you know. As queen, you could be head
of both the religion, and the state. This seems an ideal state of
affaires. If the bishops disagree with you just remind them of Thomas
A'Beckett. You could control enough money to pension off most of your
opponents. It looks like your labour opposition in parliament are so
tame that they would clap and cheer any proposal to dissolve
parliament, provided they could all be offered cushy jobs in various
international organisations. This is the way we do things over here.
Look at the Takrit family in Iraq. You should learn from Saddam.
Maggie: But we live in a democracy in England. I certainly want to
bring the country closer to Saddam's style of government, but it must
be more slowly. We have more than two hundred years of social reform
to undo. We cannot turn the clock back all that fast.
Fahd: Yes ! Yes ! Don't you see the importance of british muslims.
You don't appreciate it do you. Their calendar is still in the
fifteenth century. They love the past. You must start by cutting
education. Close down the schools and universities. Make church
Maggie: That's all very well, but England is not Saudi Arabia. We
have oil, but there are also many millions of us. We cannot run the
same sort of economy as you. We need to manufacture in order to
Fahd: Manufacture or emigrate you mean. The prophet peace be upon him
chose the hejira, or flight when conditions got tough. It seems that
many of your subjects have chosen this route. There are thousands of
them trying to come here. We have difficulty turning them away. You
don't seem to have solved your economic problems very well. My steel
works at Jubail can easily get the best technicians from Europe and
Asia. Our import substitution projects are going well. Saudis are
confident to invest in their own country. No need for over-crowded
and dirty public transport systems here.
Maggie: But we have our invisible exports. Banking and insurance
world wide earn us a lot of money. We control Hong Kong, and have
good relations with Singapore and Kuwait. The honesty of the british
businessman is respected world wide. Most of your big industrial
plants are insured with Lloyds.
Fahd: Pah! One disaster after another. The Souk al Manakh in Kuwait
cost my mate Al Sabah a few riyals alright. All these slimy men in
suits and ties that came along to teach him the miracles of
capitalism. Our newspapers are full of wanted adverts for men who
disappeared from the kingdom leaving huge debts. Western expertise !
We are getting nothing but your villains in the financial sector. No
wonder Al Sabah has started being much more open in making overtures
to the soviets.
I sometimes think that history has turned a full circle, and
it is up to us arabs to teach professional ethics to your
capitalists. Your people just go in for takeovers, while groups like
the Kuwait Investment Organisation go in for development for the
benefit of world trade. As arabs and moslems we developed sound
financial systems well before the europeans. You talk about Adam
Smith, while we talk about Ibn Sana (Avicenna).
Maggie: But we are reforming our financial institutions. We are
cutting out the dead hand of state ownership wherever we can. This
will make us that much more competitive.
Fahd: You are obsessed. Before you know it, England will be like
Bangla-Desh. The trouble with me, and so many asians is that we
cannot say no to your importuning. It is no wonder that I am buying
all these radar systems and airplanes and military hospitals. We
certainly want to keep the oil for ourselves, but I have misgivings
that you are really helping us. My advisors tell me that there is
armed conflict in the Lebanon, and in Ethiopia, and in the Sudan. We
are surrounded on all sides by warring factions, and these are
undoubtedly caused by communists who want to take what we have, and
what they have not. That is why I am giving money to help america to
fight this dreadful menace, both in Afghanistan and Nicaragua. But
sometimes I feel that the real threat to my position comes from islam
itself. Here you westerners have helped the existing order. By
buttressing the zionists you have created a convenient target. I can
get my intellectuals, or ulema as I like to call them, to denounce
western imperialism in the form of the zionist entity. Just as we
throw stones at a rock representing Satan in the Minah plain, so we
can call on all our business men to avoid trade with the zionist
entity. We can buy off some of the palestinians by naming streets
after their land, and others we can assuage by giving employment, but
these people are troublesome. They are more trouble to us than the
I.R.A. are to you.
Maggie: Yes. I suppose so. But no palestinian has tried to blow you
Fahd: No, Hamad Allah! This is because I am often seen on television
warmly embracing Yasser Arafat. You yourself do not even allow the
I.R.A. leaders to be seen on television, let alone embracing them in
public. This is one of the difficulties of being a woman in your line
Maggie: But Yasser himself has enemies who might try to blow you up.
Fahd: No, Hamad Allah! This is the advantage of our family politics.
My half-brother, Prince Abdullah often takes trips to Syria, where he
is able to reach an accommodation with the other factions.
Maggie: Well, its up to you and the oil-men to protect civilisation
from communism and zionism, while we brits are happy to serve whoever
pays best. You know that you are one of our best friends.
Fahd: Peace be upon you.
THE KING'S GAMBIT
King Fahd and Saddam Husayn are sitting together, in a
sumptuous room. They are near to a table.
Saddam: So what do you want to do your highness? Drink whisky, or
smoke the shisha. I will drink whisky myself. Our revolutionary party
is determined to sweep away all misplaced traditions.
Fahd: The way you say that, I'm almost forced to go for the shisha.
Have you got one of those japanese water-pipes with an electric
heating element, and automatic voltage regulation. One that you can
use in a car, or in a house with 240 or 120 volts. And charcoal from
the best turkish forests, and grass from the Bekaa valley.
Saddam: That's typical of you Gulf Arabs. You have such an easy life
that you just buy the latest technology from the east. What's wrong
with the traditional shisha, built in the yemeni workshops in Jeddah.
Your oldest industry is being hit hard by japanese imports. You get
chinese thobes and japanese water pipes. What next? My own engineers
are kept hard at work on all the latest techniques of automation. We
are programming our own rockets now. We are hitting three to one
against the iranians, and Tehran is a hell of a way from the border.
And there is the Zagros mountain range between here and Tehran.
We are already re-creating the feats of the german
scientists who invented artificial ammonia, and artificial rubber.
This war is fantastic for us. We are burning the old social
conventions. I was really banging my head against the wall in trying
to persuade my men to let women drive trucks and so on. Now they see
that it's necessary. Just like the soviets in world-war two.
The revolution goes from strength to strength. These
bastards can see the sense in science. The ulema all want to become
nuclear scientists now, and gain the intellectual respectability of
Andrei Sakharov. You think islam means stoning women to death, and
people will respect you, but I know that it means making atom bombs,
and rockets to deliver them for you, then the people will respect you
When did the isrealis ever drop bombs on Saudi Arabia? These
bastards count every penny and they know it is just not worth the
petrol for all your lot do to help the palestinian cause. My name
should be Saddam Hassab, and not Saddam Husayn. Hassab is the
calculator. You fired Yamani, but you could never do his job
yourself. That is the difference between you and me. I have run the
oil ministry for eight years, as well as tours of duty in all the
Pacifism is the privilege of the rich. You got the brits to
do your dirty work in the Yemen. They kept the yemenis divided while
your family expanded. Look at Oman. Our revolutionary party was
making good progress until they organised with Pahlavi to suppress
our arab cause.
Fahd: I've just seen Margaret Thatcher. Her son's hospitals are
starting to fall down in the sheikhdoms.
Saddam: I'm not surprised. She seems set on demolishing them herself
back in England. They've just not got any money anymore. If those
sheikhs stopped pouring their money into expensive clinics in London,
they would fall down even faster. How can we build an arab culture
while things happen like that.
Fahd: Well, they like to go to the casinos as well as get the
test-tube baby stuff. We can't have casinos and red-light districts
in my country yet. It won't do with my position as servant of the
holy places. The rich have to play.
Saddam: Yes, its true that military sports are not for everyone, but
you don't know until you have tried. Even so, I am doing my best to
develop ski resorts and theme parks even during this war. We want our
citizens to participate in the twentieth century without ever leaving
the borders of our arab nation. And I mean my own nation, when I
speak of the arab nation. We are being forged with iron and blood,
while your countrymen are being fattened by the americans. Why,
cigarettes are so cheap in your country that you can see it is being
done by the western clinics. Cardio vascular surgery is one of their
biggest hard currency earners. You can bet that these slimy hospital
administrators are recycling their profits in creating bigger demand
for rich mens' diseases. All of this creates such dependency.
These wretched multinationals are ruining us. They have such
glossy corporate headquarters, while our people live in mud huts.
These palaces of commerce are being built on the blood of us toiling
arabs. Ever since the mongols flattened Baghdad, we have suffered
such misery. We have the highest infant mortality and the lowest life
expectancy of all the places except Africa and Haiti. All because the
sheikhs go and have expensive operations in London.
The reason we don't have the best medical science is that
good doctors don't want to work here.
Fahd: But my own country has started a campaign of prestigious
academic awards. We are now able to recruit the best medical
scientists from all over the world.
Saddam: Yes, but what do they do when they are in your free market
paradise? They just want to get drunk on laboratory alcohol. That
wild party in Jeddah was hideous publicity for your nation. I got one
of my experts to read Paul Foot's book. He told me that it painted a
miserable picture of debauchery so near to islam's holiest shrine.
Your hospitals are just built to benefit international capitalism.
Fahd: I stopped all that sort of thing when I got to power. I now try
and get expats to live in common flats, rather than separate
compounds. We make regular searches for alcohol, and give whippings
to the big black market dealers.
Saddam: Well that's one problem I don't have. We let the people chose
themselves whether to drink or not. It's much easier than giving them
the vote, and at the same time it appears revolutionary reform,
compared with your lot. You are really trying to keep your people in
the fifteenth century to such an extent that the Kuwait border is a
Fahd: All of my ministries are designed by the best architects from
all over the world.
Saddam: Well, you just be careful that they don't get hit by iranian
rockets like some of mine have. Both of our countries are now doing
more serious things. You had better be careful with the next lot of
iranian pilgrims. The iranians are getting better and better stuff
from Pyong Yang.
Fahd: There ! You talk about dependency, but both you and Iran rely
on imperialist powers to supply your rockets.
Saddam: It's the germans you fool! Their scientists went and built
rockets for both the USSR and the USA. We are getting some of them
here, as well. The germans are no longer imperialist. They learnt
their lesson a few years ago, and will merly do as they are told for
a while. It does not matter anyway. I am getting lots of work from my
scientists. We can re-program most of the soviet rockets.
Fahd: I think you have even more problems in keeping scientists than
me. Who wants to be shot just for voicing their opinions? Oppenheimer
was a leftist, and often opposed his government. They still put him
in charge of the Manhatten project when they wanted someone to build
a bomb. Your glorious arab revolution threw out the jews, and bought
in egyptians. It seems a poor swap to me now.
Saddam: Everyone knows how to make bombs. What is needed is
production engineering, rather than original ideas to win this sort
of war, and my model of the state is fine for that. With the help of
Brazil, and South Africa we can overturn the North-South division.
Japan was nothing but a feudal power not so long ago, and despite
having lost the war they are a powerful economic threat to the USA.
It must be the same with the arabs. We will win, because history is
on our side. Look at the american marines in Lebanon. Just one truck
and a kami-kaze driver, and the yanks got out. The atom bomb did them
no good there. The hezb-allah don't care whether the opposition has
atom bombs or not. We don't need science any more for a few years.
Look how the romans superceded the greeks. The romans merely built
water conduits to the same plans. More and more. For myself, I intend
to link the big rivers to the Hejaz, and the Emirates. The turks will
give the water for oil, and you will pay me for the water. I am just
fending off the iranian revolution for you all but I wish old Al
Sabah would shell out something for the Basra water main project. His
prevarication make my blood boil. It would be much better than
paying all these western companies enormous sums for desalination
Fahd: We don't want you to install this system, then blackmail us by
threatening to cut off our water supplies. And besides, how can we
know whether you will start to fight Turkey. How can we tell what the
kurds will think about it.
Saddam: They would probably like the project if all of us arabs got
together, and offered to pay them a decent price for the watershed.
If we were united, we could probably chase the turks away from the
big river sources, and get control ourselves.
How many combat airplanes have you got. We could even try
and cut Israel into the deal, and bomb Turkey into submission. I've
really had a secret admiration for Sharon as a military man,
especially the way he got the phalangists to take out his enemies at
Sabra and Shatilla.
It's a great problem even being an engineer in the arab
world. Most sensible projects cut across international boundaries,
and only the big multi-national consortia from the imperialist
countries are able to get agreements from all the governments
concerned. The borders are a big problem to the growth of my economy.
Look at my sea outlets. I am totally bottled in, and you lot just sit
I really seem to be doing all the work in the arab world to
raise our consciousness. Look at Assad. He just sold out to
Kissinger. He was promised the Bekaa just to compensate for the Golan
heights. He has his own little war going on in Lebanon, and throws in
fuel from time to time just to keep various people happy. There will
be no pluralistic society in the arab world. Only I can offer that.
Here I have sunnis living alongside shiites, and we have no problems.
I have issued decrees ensuring imprisonment for factionalism and
sectarianism in my country.
Doesn't it make you ashamed when foreigners laugh at your
country and its traditional institutions?
Fahd: No, hamad allah. We have plenty of money, and we are modelling
the islamic conference organisation on the United Nations in New
York. We also finance other international islamic centers, and they
have the best air conditioning technology. We use solar power for our
road traffic signs, but we don't have gun battles on our roads, like
they do in the USA. We have no unemployment, and very little crime.
All the foreigners who come to conferences in my country are very
impressed with the high level of development.
Saddam: Built by slave labour! You gulf arabs are addicted to
servants. Don't you know that Muammar Ghadafi has said that the
hiring of servants is un-islamic. Why did Hitler lose the war? His
labour tsar, Albert Speer pulled in millions of prisoners to do
perform forced labour for germany, but the german hausfrau still
wanted a bourgeois life, even after Stalingrad. I tell you, we are
prepared to make our women work. We have doubled the revolutionary
effort at a stroke, by the emancipation of women, and yet in your
kingdom, the woman cannot even drive a car.
Fahd: Well, some of my friends are happy with that. Even though they
are rich, they very much fear the cost of four Porsches, one for each
wife. Besides, most of the princesses are able to learn to drive when
they are abroad.
Saddam: It is your loss. Your kingdom will not last long, if your
technocrats are under so much pressure to leave, because of the
wishes of their women folk.
Fahd: We have special banks for the women. Some of them work in
special sections of the ministries.
Saddam: The palestinians achieved that sort of thing sixty years ago.
Some of them spend six months in your country, and voluntarily return
to the west bank to continue the intifada. They feel that they are
more oppressed by your ulema than any amount of isreali troops. Why
don't you do something about it? Whose side are you really on? Why do
you have such a large miltary base at Qamis Mushayt? It is hardly
poised to attack the zionist enemy. Its about the best place to run
away to, if the isrealis attack.
Fahd: You over simplify things. We are rich, and our real enemy is
the poor. Some may talk about the 'Gulf War', but the Red Sea is also
a zone of combat. The russians have piled in with military hardware
to protect the marxist- leninist regime in Ethiopia. The cubans have
sent soldiers, and Southern Yemen is also in the hands of the
communists. My pals the americans are very worried about this threat
to world stability, although I think they are exaggerating. This new
man, Gorbachev, is much more moderate. We have our responsibilities
to protect the islamic world against the atheistic creed of communism
Saddam: Shall I get a refill for your shisha?
THE KING'S GAMBIT
Saddam Husayn is sitting in his office, surrounded by maps
of the Middle East. The war with Iran is over, and he is able to
relax. He moves to the carpet, where there is an arabic coffee pot
and some cups. As he sits down, he kicks over the coffee pot. A
turbanned genie appears. This is the ghost of the ayetollah Khomeini.
Khomeini: You should be drinking wormwood instead of coffee. You set
back the islamic revolution for your zionist and american paymasters.
You deserve to die a thousand deaths. Allah will punish you an
uncountable number of times for your sins.
Saddam: I have recently performed the hajj.
Khomeini: This compounds the evil of those who are already evil. The
holy city is controlled by the americans. The whole peninsula is just
a big indian reservation in the eyes of the americans. I hate to see
this happening to the arabs. Our people are not arabs, but we share
the same chains of oppression. Our war was purely defensive, but we
really wanted to march on Jerusalem. Why did you turn the other way.
Can't you read a map yet?
Saddam: Well the americans, and the saudis and the kuwaitis all
promised me great riches if I could liberate the arabs of Khuzistan.
And anyway your revolutionary guards kept raiding across the border.
And I wanted to control the river. You have Kharg Island, so why do
you want that river now. It has no meaning to your agriculture. You
can get all the water you need from Damavand.
Khomeini: But the arabs of Khuzistan did not want to be liberated by
you. It's true that they had lousy jobs in the oil fields but the
iranian revolution had already got rid of their main oppressors: the
big iranian capitalists. Many of this class had fled, and our
revolutionaries were quite tolerant to the arabs. The real enemies
were heretics like the Bahai, and the westernised women and the opium
smokers and so on. In particular, we wanted to root out the
communists and marxists. Those who wanted to continue the
secularisation of the Pahlavi regime.
Saddam: Yes the feyadeen came across to join me. These idealists
suffered for years in SAVAK prisons, and yet your lot continued to
persecute them. You just wanted to take over their revolution. I
should have delivered you to the shah, instead of allowing you to go
Khomeini: There were many good men amongst the SAVAK agents. They
were merely practicing 'taqiyya' to survive their times of hardship
during the power of that maniac emperor Pahlavi. Do you know that he
thought himself Darius and Cyrus and Xerxes rolled into one. He spent
millions on champagne and whisky during his big celebrations at
Persopolis. And honest muslims starved in the world's 'Fourth Super
Saddam: American blacks starve in the world's 'First Super Power'.
Khomeini: Yes! Yes! That's why my students let the blacks go free
from the american embassy in Tehran. You prove that you are really on
my side, but you let the kings eclipse the light from your mind. You
are a keen calculator, but you had Satan on your shoulder when these
things happened. It's as bad as the story of Jacob and Esau. For a
bit of a river, you wasted ten years. But it's still not too late.
You can release the holy places from the dark shadow cast by the
You know that my opposition to the shah was consistent. Some
of the leftists would have supported his reforms, were it not because
of his megalomania. All kings suffer from this disease. They know too
much history. Take Fahd for instance. His people remember the days
when the 'Ikhwan' were able to raid Kerbala and Najaf, the holy
places of the sect of Ali. They thought that by influencing you, they
could darken the revolution. That's not true. Nothing can darken that
which comes from the land of Ahura Mazda. Now I am dead, you yourself
have the mission. It cannot be escaped.
Saddam: You accuse me of darkening the revolution. You forget that
Iraq had a revolution long before Iran. We got rid of a king who was
in fact a more authentic king that that Cossack's son, Pahlavi. Our
revolution is the arab resurgence.
Khomeini: Our islamic theoreticians are fully aware of the weakness
of such a narrow minded and chauvinistic position. Not all moslems
are arabs, and vice versa. Assad and some of the awalites are almost
christians, or just as bad. We certainly know many arabs who actively
persecute islam. This age is one of the hardest for muslims. Having
got rid of the imperialist powers, we find that immense damage has
been done to the islamic umma by arab nationalists. You admired
Nasser, but he executed Qutub.
Your attack drove me into the arms of Assad, and the
awalites. Your war was purely factional, and sectarian. You split the
islamic world in two, and this at a time when so much of the soviet
sphere was right for the picking. We are shia, but then so was once
North Africa, under the fatimids. We had more in common with you
arabs, than with the isrealis, but still you attacked. This was
simply to oppress our revolution.
The arab resurgence is simply a laughable concept. While the
arab world plays host to rulers such as you, then it is really on its
knees. Do you really know that some of my colleagues amongst the
ayatollahs wish to change the qibla from Makkah to some other point.
We feel that the holy places have been so trampled by the imperialist
powers that we may be on the verge of a new age. We can pray towards
Jerusalem, just as much as to Makkah.
Saddam: Unfortunately you iranians are minor imperialists. We know
you are looking at Bukhara and Samarkand. Your involvement in the
Lebanon is obvious for all to see. You choose absolutely the worst
place to continue an islamic policy. Half the people there are
already afraid of muslims, and with good reason. Too many muslims
seek solutions for the future in what lies in the past. We know
christians were persecuted by moslems at least for a short time in
the first world war. The armenians. We must give them arms to defend
themselves against the hezb Allah. We also find the russians quite
willing to give us arms to keep your lot busy. The whole fact is that
Schevernadze is a Georgian, and they regard Iran as a natural
imperial competitor. So many are suspicious that your government is
simply a fresh convert to imperialism, backed up by so many kids
called Darius, rather than Abdul Kareem. Your own comittees are great
on islamic jurisprudence, but you yourself were a very sterile old
Khomeini: It is true that I concerned myself mostly with theology. We
were the first modern islamic republic, and wanted to get the theory
right. Economics was specially difficult, but we survived. The
Emirates were specially helpful, playing their game at being
Switzerland. We were always good enough moslems to win the respect of
many others, even if they were arabs.
Libya gave us moral support. They knew your behaviour was
divisive. Really there are many arabs who deeply sympathised with us
as people who had taken the courage to expel the americans, but then
not all of them. There were some who were quite loyal to us. Our
people can be generous, like yours, but we just take the imperialists
on our own terms.
Iraq was no threat to capitalism, because of the enormous
consumption. As the world's biggest arms importer, you are just what
they want. Everyone was wanting you to test out their latest
technology. Just like the hard drug dealer tries to build addiction
by free samples. The worst thing is that the kuwaitis and the saudis
picked up so much of the bill. There were arms dealers in the
governments who were eager to pick up big bribes from the arms
suppliers. The french and russians made money. For the soviets, you
were an instrument to re-circulate kuwaiti money. They lent you
dinars, and these were converted to dollars by the russians. Neither
the kuwaiti people, nor the soviet people ever saw much of this
money. The profits were pocketed by the arms mafia. This means any
state with important military industries. The word 'arsenal' is a
good arab word, meaning 'the works'. Military rule has been common
amongst us muslims for far too long, and the I.R.I. is practically
the first islamic state to shake off the shackles of military rule.
We represented progress in the face of capitalism, and
militarism, so we were a threat to their so called civilisation. A
democratically elected parliament, sitting between man and God and
this is the true middle way. Of course there were many who wanted to
bomb us, but there are many good men from the ranks. Without the
persians, islam would be nothing, for it was us who revealed the true
originality of the message.
In the past we often worked with the arabs. We belonged to a
single islamic world. The arab league needs to be scrapped, because
we share your ways. The arabs have never really been a very cohesive
group. You have desert nomads, and seafarers, and merchants, and
farmers. You are divided by tribe, caste and even religion, and yet
you all pretend otherwise. You perhaps hate the blacks, because we
all know how disruptive were earlier rebellions against the slave
trade. We always seek to interpret the revolutionary message of the
koran. 'Islam in one country' is impossible. When the moslems face
the world, rather than fighting each other, then that is the day we
are all waiting for. Our islamic republic is a way of offering
democracy with islam. We are almost the only muslims to have tried
THE KING'S GAMBIT
Margaret Thatcher is sitting in a conference room, after her
servants have left. There is a fax machine, which starts buzzing.
Margaret kicks it, and it starts to smoke. The smoke dissolves into a
jinn, the ghost of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Maggie: A satanic burial! They spilled you out of the coffin, didn't
Khomeini: No doubt they will cast you out of the coffin, and drive a
stake through your heart. You are unpopular enough now. They compare
you with that Romanian rascal, Caucescu.
Maggie: He was idiot enough to visit your islamic workers paradise.
Ten years of war, and thousands of executions, and a collapse of the
iranian rial. I never go and visit places like Iran.
Khomeini: What about America? They have foisted decades of war on
other countries. Central America, and South East Asia, and the Horn
of Africa. The list goes on. They are adding fuel to the fires of
war, wherever they like. They have hit us peace loving persians very
hard. They even shot down a civilian airliner.
Maggie: Modern technology! The fax machine bought you, and a faulty
computer shot down your airplane. But nasty arab terrorists inspired
by the fanatical hezbollah blew up the Lockerbie jet.
Khomeini: Not if you would believe the american lawyers. They reckon
it was your luggage searches which allowed the incident to happen. In
an islamic republic we would shoot an airport guard for 'sabotage',
and pay no compensation. We forget the incident with the next wave of
Maggie: You ruled like a tyrant.
Khomeini: No. I was surrounded by committees, and we quickly increased
the power of the majlis, for which there were direct elections. The
strongest parties were the mullahs, who were united. The left still
kept up their own fratricidal disputes. The Tudeh was only a regional
party, based on affiliations with the soviets, but really they were
just azeri nationalists. It was we who appeared to attack the rich by
emptying bottles of whiskey into the streets. The poor man's drug
here is opium. We acted as though we were taking part in the class
struggle, while continuing to kill the poor in large numbers.
The committees and the majlis were two separate
institutions. There were also many competing militia. The whole thing
was anarchy, really. The people grew to love demonstrations, and
could not resist it at Makkah, and Madina, but many were shot for
that. Of course we tried to export our revolution, but they were only
peaceful demonstrations with written banners, until the saudis shot
so many of us.
The iraqi front was something else. We wanted to get many of
the committees out of the way. That was OK at the beginning, but in
the end we wanted to keep the best for long range attack, or running
the oil fields. Even the americans bought our oil, or rather
international capital. Most of the oil went to Liberia, or Singapore,
or Panama. It was all managed by I.P. SHARP.
The computers have no morals. We know the A.I.'s are idols,
and jinns cast in silicon. In the end we will have islamic robots.
That is the only way.
So you see, during my spell in government I was occupying
myself with philosophic problems. You yourself could go back to
chemistry, and find a cure for AIDS. You need to build knowledge
before passing it on. That was my aim as a leader, but that does not
seem to be your aim.
But the people below me were extremely incompetant. When the
masses developed a taste for executions, then that replaced football
matches. Always we had to find more 'enemies of the state' to kill.
For some, murder is itself addictive. A sort of re-inforcing
behaviour to be exact. The idea of the muslim is to allow only allah
to do the re-enforcing. In that way we are pure.
Unfortunately there are still not many moslems in the world.
Those figures given by the saudis and others are just wishful
thinking. Being a muslim means more than just praying, and fasting at
Ramadan, and study of the Koran. For me there was not much difference
between running a state, and trying to overthrow it. I relied on
advisers most of the time, and these all came either from the clergy,
or the young enthusiasts for revolution. Our young men found it much
more exciting to be seizing embassies and pursuing enemies of the
state, rather than attending school.
Maggie: That is why you old mullahs were all so keen to see them sent
to the front line with iraq.
Khomeini: No. Many volunteered. Our zealots made it pretty tough for
those who did not want to fight, just like your patriotic committees
during the 1914-18 war.
Maggie: But we are now more democratic in England.
Khomeini: You are a fine one to speak. My own political analysts
handed me extensive documentation of the 'Falklands Factor'. When you
got away with the sinking of the Belgrano, we felt quite justified in
taking out kuwaiti shipping.
If Galtieri was a tyrant, then Saddam Husayn is ten times
worse. Unfortunately for you lot, he has historical imperatives on
his side. None of you western so called democratic regimes cared much
for human rights in the world. Your support for these rights is in
inverse proportion to the distance from your own parliament. And it
seems that you only want effective parliaments to exist when they can
interlock with your capitalist systems of exploitation based on the
multi-national corporations. Is it not true that the Palace of
Westminster stands under the shadows of the buildings of both Shell,
and British Petroleum. B.P. especially is the organisation which
really sought to rule the Gulf. It's so pathetic. Millions of moslems
appear willing to die of the name of the Arabian or the Persian Gulf,
but really it is all between B.P. and Exxon.
And yet you really got mad with my 'fatwa' against Salman
Rushdie. To you it seems that the roof is collapsing in on your so
called 'democracy', but the americans interference was ten times
Do you know that the americans wanted Pahlavi to enact a law
in Iran. The effect was that an iranian who ran over an american's
dog would go to prison, while an american who ran over a moslem's
wife would get off scot free.
You accuse us of trying to gag free speech, but your own
record in this matter is not so good. Any british media which pursue
the irish question, or the behaviour of your own plotting security
services gets short thrift from your legal system. It is a pity that
there are so few regimes wishing to seize british embassies in the
world. It is now the only way that your own citizens will be able to
learn the truth.
And believe me, the truth is also an islamic duty. The man
who conceals the truth when he can say it will eat fire in the next
Maggie: But you controlled your own media. Did you not order the
whipping of those responsible for the production of the japanese
soap-opera 'Oshin'? Some iranian women were asked to chose an admired
role model, and many of them chose the japanese servant girl
portrayed in this series.
Khomeini: It was unfortunate. Somehow an 'anti war' message crept in,
and this at a time when the nation was fighting for its survival.
Oshin lived in the house of an army deserter in the hills for a
while, and we could not be seen to condone such behaviour. But don't
point your accusations only at Iran. My country hosted quite a few
young americans during the 1960's who were on the run from their own
Maggie: Yes, some of my own Tory Party have similar views on
patriotism. Unfortunately the british courts are too soft at the
moment, but with another term of office I will soon be able to set
Khomeini: I can give you some advice. You must re-introduce death
penalties. Support the 'Right to Life', and get rid of feminist
groups. You must take firmer steps to bring religious values back to
your own nation, and combat the evils of drug trafficking. My
Ayetollah Khalkali executed thousands of dope dealers. You must
inaugerate a 'Khalkali Plan' for your inner cities, so that the
people know who is boss.
Maggie: Every year my Tory Party Conference tries to get these things
done, but it is hard. Some of them are just too wet, and anyway they
are more interested in making money.
Khomeini: And too many are interested in making money by exploiting
your colonial possessions. Hong Kong, Kuwait, Singapore and even the
Channel Islands. All of these are centers of money laundering of one
form or another. And none of their operations are subject to the
scrutiny of your peoples elected representatives. Your people have
always sponsored bandits, and will continue to do so until we can
find some one to stand up to them. I hate to say it, even more than I
hated to admit defeat, but Saddam Husayn is now the man.
Maggie: But we are sending tactical nuclear weapons to deal with this
Khomeini: Yes, that's fine. Few englishmen would agree to the use of
tactical nuclear weapons in the streets of Westminster, but that is
where they perceive the tyranny. How many people got beaten outside
Downing Street this year? How many times have you been burnt in
effigy? Why, my mullahs really envied the Socialist Worker's Party in
the ease with which they got these events organised. It took rather
more trouble to get the Rushdie campaign off the ground here. There
were even some who wanted to read the book, but there is far less
enthusiasm for paying the poll tax in England. B'allah, there are
even soldiers and policemen in your own country who don't want to pay
the poll tax.
You english have been taking for far too long, and now the
price has to be paid. Your pundits spent too long laughing at our
ways, but really they should have been shedding tears over our
children. Our poverty is your wealth. How many nice houses in your
'home counties' are owned by sheikhs? How many nice houses have been
built on slave money, or gun money? How many porsches are run by
those who are involved in your usurious banks. The law set down by
Mohammed, peace be upon him, forbids usury. Why did you get good
muslims to conspire with your financial institutions in exploiting so
much of Africa and Latin America? Your experts have all these nice
sounding phrases about China being the sleeping giant, and the 'third
world debt crisis', but these same people enjoy air conditioned
conference halls while talking about global crisis. Yet when a
Poll-Pot, or a Sadism Hussein comes along you are collectively as
impotent as the Chinese in face of western capitalism.
Magi: These are very wicked men, and should be punished.
Khomeini: Well, Pol Pot seems to have been getting hand-outs. But you
and Bush represent a very wicked system, and it needs neither me, nor
Saddam Husayn to punish the exploiters. The seeds of destruction are
already there in your collective addiction to imperialism,
militarism, and exploitation.
With a flash, and puff of smoke the jinn vanishes.
THE KING'S GAMBIT
A group of marxist-leninist revolutionaries sits in a room
discussing their next moves.
Abdul Hakeem: How was your holiday, Hamza?
Hamza: I went to see my family in Germany. Too much chauvinism now.
It's as bad as Kuwait for our people. The viet-namese are just being
sent back, and the turks are feeling the squeeze now it is a single
united 'Raj' (Reich). The E.E.C. are trying to turn themselves into a
more exclusive rich man's club like the G.C.C. The east germans can
become the yemenis of europe. They are real europeans, but they just
get low paid work.
But racism is on the increase everywhere. The collapse of
the 'stalinist' regimes has affected some of the students very badly.
The so called 'State Monopoly of Foreign Trade' made a nice niche for
students from our world. We went and studied engineering or whatever,
but we really took quite a lot of foreign trade with us. Watches, and
jeans, and Walk-mans and so on. Their trading system is really
pathetic. They all have such enormous black markets. It is a symbol
of defiance against these corrupt authorities to have genuine Levis,
which are faked in an indian sweat-shop.
Because we students benefited from the regime, then we
suffered when they were toppled. Look at how the Romanians took
opportunity to persecute the palestinian students when the people
took over for a while.
Abdul Hakeem: Their money is so stupid. It's worth nothing, and its
value changes every day. Not like the kuwaiti dinar, before Saddam
walked in. Now they have the same.
Al Habash: Spare no sympathy for the kuwaitis! Their border was just
drawn on a map by imperialists, and they just squandered their money
on casinos and horse racing and expensive limousines.
Abdul Hakeem: And islamic peace conferences of course.
Hamza: That's unfair. They were building plenty of mosques.
Abdul Hakeem: And suppressing democracy. Don't they know that this was
the center of the Zanj rebellion. The Spartacus of the Middle East.
Al Habash: The kuwaitis all flocked to Europe. Especially during
Ramadan, when they gave the 'ulema' their due. Moslems are supposed
to fast for the benefit of allah, rather than the idol of strict
observance of these archaic rules. These men were just pretending to
make things tough, but road accidents always went up, because people
had to drive home from work about six times a day. Everytime you
wanted a cigarette, or a cup of coffee, you had to hide from the
mullahs. It was terrible.
Abdul Hakeem: And during the hajj, the saudis and kuwaitis always
made up the contra-flow. The flight from the holy places, to the
brothels of Bangkok and Amsterdam. This was especially true of the
poor who could not afford to marry. Also those who could not afford
servants, and there were some, although not so many really.
Al Habash: Few of them went to propagate islam. Building mosques is
something else, but it is more interesting to build them in some
places, rather than others. Wealth attracts wealth. The swiss get
mosques, while the afghanis get rockets.
Abdul Hakeem: Yes they were doing a wretched duty as arabs and
moslems. Their influence on world affaires did not match their
wealth. Look what they did to the Lebanon. Everyone who wanted to
make a forceful diplomatic career sought to have their own militia
there. They were trying to manage armies like football teams, just
like the imperialists. The same applies to the migrant labour. The
uniform of a korean construction company, and the labour camps and
all the rest.
Hamza: Those koreans really learned from the construction battalions
of the USA imperial army. They come here with military discipline,
and many of our fixers worked on american bases.
Al Habash: Those kuwaitis were racialist. When they hired 'american
experts', they sometimes felt cheated if they were sent a black man.
They always think it confusing if their apparent pay scales are
broken. They just look at the statistics of the countries concerned.
A bangla-deshi is worth much less than an american, because wages are
higher in america.
Dee Jai: They might have been racialist, but they did not execute
thais for having isreali visas. This happened in Iraq. Also the
kuwaitis had more useful money, at least until they were invaded.
Most of the kuwaitis are young people, and they just want to
go on picnics, and watch football. They are like all the rest of us
asians, and while admittedly some were more arrogant than the saudis,
most of them were friendly enough. Certainly no worse than the upper
classes in my own country. Also their police were less corrupt than
the thai police.
They did not care a bit that their country was drawn on a
map by a british functionary. They were not born then. They
emphasised their place in the western system, but claimed to be
better than the germans.
Al Habash: You thais always seemed to be better in resisting ramadan,
and prayers and all that stuff.
Dai Jee: Our system is buddhism. We see that they are born into the
sort of testing life where they have wealth, but no progress. They
come to our country to get women, but not to learn the damma.
They are unaware of our own struggle for democracy. The
massacre of 1976 was not really in the news so much. We had three
years of democracy, then a military coup. The 'hard-liners' took
over. Saddam is also a hard-liner. These peple think they are
moslems, but many moslem girls were in Thammasart when the army came
in. They had been resisting the americans, and the militarists, to
try and get a better distribution of resources. Like Kuwait, my
country is rich, but the people are in fact poor. We export most of
the rice from South East Asia, but people still go hungry.
Most of Kuwait was managed by foreigners, like the best
condominiums in Bangkok. There was not so much corruption, because
the mafia was limited to a single ruling family. In Thailand the web
goes very far. We have the chinese. They are frightened of the
communists, but they also give some of them money, as well.
We have to treat corrupt officials like lice, and scratch
them off from time to time.
Al Habash: Corruption is a problem in so much of the world.
Governments with no money have to give the police a chance to exploit
the people. Egypt, The Sudan and so much of Africa is totally
corrupt. This is always the case where the government uses employment
as patronage. Various types of 'Socialism' were the ruination of our
people. The 'One Party State' always seemed to be legitimised by the
existence of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
That is why so many of our people wanted to emigrate to the
U.S.A. The corruption seemed to be at a higher level in government.
They have enough money to pay civil servants, so that they do not
have to live off the people like leeches or vampires.
Abdul Hakeem: Yes, Marx and Lenin talked about the power of capital,
but entrenched beaurocracy was not really explained too well. We need
to smash these beaurocracies, as well as capitalism. It takes ages to
get a driving licence in a place like this. It is worse where you
must bribe the official. They just make rules that no one
understands, then expect something extra, just to help the supplicant
observe the rules. The beaurocracy is meant to divide the working
class, by co-opting a portion of them to the ruling class.
Al Habash: Ah, the class analysis.
Abdul Hakeem: Yes, but the class struggle seems very weak here in the
Gulf. Strikes are not allowed, and most of the workers cannot speak
to each other, when they are kept in separate camps. There are dozens
of different languages from India alone, and the beaurocracy does
what it can to keep us apart. It sounds very similar to Soviet
Russia. We are all supposed to be on the road to liberation once we
get here. A Green Card, so that we can work in the U.S.A.
Al Habash: It is truly miserable that the highest aspiration of the
working class is to go to America, and yet that is the truth. Our
emigre communities often span four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa
and America. As workers, we know we have no country, but the
capitalists seem to know this so much more quickly. Look how the jews
prospered. And arabs, when they went in for lending money. There was
also an armenian diaspora. We are all like the capitalist classes
since the days of mass air transport. But we have a full spectrum of
classes from the lowest labourer to the international banker.
Abdul Hakim: Yes, we are all trying to change class. We all want to
rule, at least for ourselves. In the meantime, we must have jobs, and
that is tough. We are all trying to save for something better, but
will that ever come? Sometimes I think not. Then we must work for the
good of the race but not ourselves. Class division is not helpful in
the face of something like AIDS. Even the rich are hit by this. In
fact the rich are sometimes worse hit, since the poor cannot afford
the price of a blood transfusion.
The trouble with the ancient theories is that capital is
just money, but now capital and computers have merged together to
create forces independent of man. We were worried that a computer
fault could start World War Three, but the computers are just running
society for us. Capital now has its own logic. But this logic has no
knowledge. Limited resources are not calculated for. The machine is
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