The Education of Raja (and Safia)

Ken AshfordIraq, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

200403125_012t8724515h On March 12, 2004, George Bush said this in a celebration concering "global women’s human rights":

PRESIDENT BUSH: I want to thank my friend, Dr. Raja Khuzai, who’s with us today. This is the third time we have met. The first time we met, she walked into the Oval Office — let’s see, was it the first time? It was the first time. The door opened up. She said, "My liberator," and burst out in tears — (laughter) — and so did I. (Applause.)


Here’s what George said in the 2003 State of the Union:

"One of Iraq’s leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Souhail . . . Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country — and we are honored that she is with us tonight."

Here’s what the Voice of America reported the following day:

There was an emotional moment during Wednesday’s State of the Union address when the mother of a 25-year-old Marine killed in Iraq, Janet Norwood, embraced an Iraqi voter, Safia Taleb al-Souhail. They were among the guests invited to sit with the president’s wife Laura Bush for the annual address.

But here’s Safia Taleb al-Souhail today, in a Reuters interview:

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened — we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It’s a big disappointment."

And, from a Reuters article, also today:

Souhail said the United States, a crucial backstage player keen for a deal that meets U.S.-backed deadlines, had let the Shi’ite Islamists and Kurds in government do as they wish. "We have received news that we were not backed by our friends including the Americans. They left the Islamists to come to an agreement with the Kurds," she said.

Yeah, they got rogered big time.

[Hat tip and credit: Billmon]