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Paul Coletti | 17:30 UK time, Monday, 13 November 2006

Our topics tonight: the Iraq Survey Group's plan to involve Syria and Iran in helping out Iraq, and women officiating at football matches . . . Honestly whoever heard of such a thing! There'll be women prime ministers before you know it!

Iraq: Iran and Syria to the rescue?

Jwan: “I think Syria has legitimate concerns. It hasn’t been included. It is a neighbour and you should include neighbours not isolate them. They should be part of the solution not the problem.”

Ros: “What part of the solution?”

Jwan: “Syria has been marginalised for no reason. The US has to adopt an inclusive politics.”

Aula: “As a neighbour it is vital it has a say. As an Arab country it can understand what Iraq is going through.I welcome George Bush’s attempts at peace, the Syrians are right to take them with bucketfuls of salt.”

Ros: What do you think Tony Blair has in mind?

Aula: “Only God knows. His phrasing sounds like a threat: if you don’t do what we want you to do then we’ll do something dreadful to you.”

Ros: has posed the same question to Karim in Washington D.C.: “There’s a growing recognition that those bordering Iraq have a vested interest in seeing Iraq succeed….maybe more so amongst those in London rather than those in the USA.”

Aula: “I do agree with Karim. The West wants regime change in Syruia. Perhaps we’re overestimating the number of insurgents coming from Syria. There are more coming from Iran.”

Haider is an Iraqi: “We cannot deny that they –- Iranians and Syrians -- are involved in the conflict. It’s too late to ask them for help.”

Karim: “There’s not really common ground on the nuclear issue but there is with Iran regarding Iraq. They both want to see Iraq regain its terriorial integrity. They don’t want a failed state”

Sharham, originally from Iran, has been eyeing the Iranian blogs: “The majority Shia in Iraq want to assert their righteous place. One should not forget that the bonds between Iran and Iraq go way back. Ahmadinejad has used the radicalised rhetoric of the US administration. . . .”

Ros: “Is there common ground?”

“. . . There is no doubt about that. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a multiple-centred regime. The supreme leader gave the green light to Khatami to assist the US in its overthrow of the Taleban. Iran and the US have already cooperated. Since the radicals took over we hear every now and again that elements in the forces smuggle arms across the border to the Iraqi militias.”

Karim: “The Iranians claim they have soft power. They can buy it with their petro dollars.”

Khourosh is an Iranian living in London: “The callers have expressed moderate views. I’m more radical. What Bush and Blair are doing is living in a state of denial. Blair was making more threats to Iran while asking them for help. You can’t have it both ways.”

Faisal is in Syria: “Syria can only offer advice. We have 5 million Iraqi refugees here. Our ambassador Mustapha in the US says he has good relationships with all the sects in Iraq. We can’t help Sunnis against Shias . . all we can do is to advise America to retreat from the populated areas in Iraq. Their bases should be around Iraq.”

We’re back after the news break . . .as ever please call us on +44 20 7083 72 72.

A comment from Hong Kong:
“Whereas Syria might well be eager to help with the right incentives, Iran will shake our right hand and stab us in the back with their left at the same time.”

Aula: “I am furious that Bush and Blair are saying that both countries are going to be isolated. Syria is on the up. Isolating it at this particular time is going to be destructive and increase fanaticism within the country. I’m upset he’s labelling a whole people with the label terrorist.”

David: “I was recently in Syria and found the people to be educated and to threaten them is appalling. They dare to tell Syria ‘do this or else’. It’s arrogance. That’s bullying.”

Akram: “This is desperation from the UK. They are becoming irrelevant to the situation there.”

Karim: “I disagree that the US is irrelevant. It’s done an inept job. Many Iraqis would argue that their country’s security apparatus is in an embryonic state. US leaving would expedite the collapse of the state. To say that they are irrelevant and issue sour grapes is not constructive for the Iraqi people.”

Jwan: “It is utterly naïve to talk about Syria and Iran as the solution. We’re all involved in this but by threatening you will not get out of it. We need to agree on how to get out of it – we don’t need to threaten. Normal decent people are living in peace so why threaten the whole nation. It’s not simple.”

If you saw our trail for Alistair Leithead in Afghanistan then our apologies. We hope to get Alistair in to answer your questions sometime this week . . .watch this space.

Women in sport

Football manager Mike Newell’s comment has caused some controversy here in the UK. He has since apologised: “My comments are ill-timed and out of order.”

Not all think he should have apologised.

Tom : “I agree with him absolutely. He’s probably been forced into that climbdown. I think he still meant what he said. I think it is political corerectness. Why can’t some things be left. It doesn’t look right women running around playing football. The final straw is women linesmen. I though it was a guy with long hair. If I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Abbey: I don’t agree with the fact that it’s a man’s sport. You need a lot more diversity. Women would make better decisions”

Paula, a female rugby referee, “In my experience men do take you setriously if you’ve got the qualities: fitness, knowledge, and you can manage the game so that offencesa are penalised and that the game flows…once you demonstrate those qualities people forget you’re a female.”

Dan: “I’d like to speak to Paula. My ice hockey friend said that when he had a lady official the game went to pot . . there was no respect to the lady official. You need to nurture it . . bring in women referees at an earlier age. Newell is still right in what he says otherwise there’s no respect.”

Tom: “Let’s stick to football. Ice hockey is going off at a tangent. I spend good money week-in, week-out and we’re having difficulties in accepting the men ‘cos some of them are complete clowns/ If you started putting women into it, it would be a laughing stock. It’s bad enough with the men but with women . . . I’m sorry. I would rather they just left it alone. The English women’s football team is pathetic.”

Paula: “What does Tom want? His team’s got a better chance of winning if it’s a good ref who knows the rules.”

Some texts have come in to this hot topic

“That is the most disgusting thing I've heard. We are going back to the dark ages.”
Caroline, Nairobi.

“Women referees should not be encouraged because they will be too soft to the players.” George, Nigeria

Victor has called in from : “I like to watch soccer. For me it’s just a joke.”

Ochengo, in London: “Let the men do their side of things. I agree with this Luton boss.”

Victor: The ref has got to make a mental calculation. There’s a big difference between a tall strong men and ladies don’t even run very fast.”

Omar in Nigeria: “I’ve always been passionate with women officiating in football. In Nigeria is is quite rough and women have officiated quite well. This guy is trying to blame women. It’s something emotional. It’s a typically British response.”
Well that last topic certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons! It’s been a great night, goodnight and sleep tight.


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