Googling Amer Mahdi Saleh Khashaly
By Alastair Thompson
Some cursory research into the Saddam Hussein Cabinet Minister who allegedly arrived in NZ on a UN Passport a month ago reveals skant, albeit interesting, information.
Looking more closely at these we discover that Mr Khashaly was elected Vice-Chairmen of the 21st International Conference of the FAO in 1981.
At that time he was Saddam Hussein's Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian reform. It is not clear either, when Mr Khashaly became the Minister in that role, or how long he lasted. The fact that he is still alive indicates that he was not an early victim of Saddam's several cabinet cleansing operations.
Saddam Hussein himself came to power on July 16 1979. (NZ First Leader Winston Peters was first elected to Parliament in 1978.)
While the Iran-Iraq war started in 1980 it was not till 1988 that the infamous gassing of the Kurds occurred. Again it is not clear whether Mr Khashaly was in the Iraqi Government at the time.
During this period Iraq - which was a military ally of the United States in the early 1980s - had a diplomatic relationship with New Zealand. According to MFAT New Zealand's Embassy in Iraq was opened in 1975 and was not closed till around the time of the Gulf War.
It therefore seems possible that Mr Khashaly might have had dealings with the Muldoon Government in the early 1980s ,and possibly also with the Labour Government post 1984. This in turn might explain why he is presently in New Zealand.
Moreover, the fact that Mr Khashaly was in Saddam's Government in the early 1980s shows up the lie in Winston Peter's answer to a question Scoop's A Week of It posed last week.
"When asked if the asylum seeker was part of the Saddam Hussein regime that had close ties with the Republican administration of Ronald Reagen and George Bush I, Mr Peters laughed and replied ‘No!’."
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's much researched visit to Saddam Hussein was in December 1983, and hence it seems highly likely that Amer Mahdi Saleh Khashaly was a member of Saddam's government at the time.
Firstly according to the United Nations website there is no such thing.
" Q: I heard that the UN issues international passports, visas and driver's licenses. How can I apply?
A: No!! Neither the UN nor any of its specialized agencies or international organizations issues or authorizes the issuance of international driver's licenses, passports or travel documents for the public. The issuance of such official documents is exclusively a function of national authorities. The UN is not a government and thus cannot issue any of the aforementioned documents."
That said, as today's Scoop front page clearly shows, there is such a thing – Angelina Jolie has one. Her passport was issued in her capacity as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
Again researching on Google we can find some more information on United Nations Passports.
For example this chap claims to have been issued one in 1957 under the Geneva Convention because he couldn't get one from his home government at the time. Kuwait is willing to issue their holders business visas. And this university in the UK waives the requirement of a refugee holding one to produce a work permit.
From this we might deduce that Amer Mahdi Saleh Khashaly is either an employee or otherwise associated with the United Nations, or he is a stateless person and therefore by definition already a refugee.
If so this would again raise some further questions about the answers given by the New Zealand Immigration Service concerning the fact that no refugees matching Winston Peter's description – namely "a Minister in Saddam Hussein's Government" - were in the country.