Saturday 11 October 2008

Did Haider meet the real Saddam?

The death of Jorg Haider in a car crash has shocked Austria, and is likely to add to the political uncertainty following the strong performance of both populist far right parties in national elections last month. His democratic opponents are making carefully respectful statements following his death, while noting his polarising role in Austrian politics.

Haider was an erratic politician, revelling in his pariah status by forming some eclectic alliances. Gene at Harry's Place is among those to note Haider's obsequeious visit to Saddam Hussein in 2003.

But was that the full story? It is said that Haider's ego was particularly punctured by the rumours and reports about whether he had actually been received by the Iraqi President himself, or merely been fobbed off with a meeting with one of Saddam's doppelgangers.

The analysis of a German coroner Dr Dieter Buhmann, from studying the videotape, was widely discussed in Austria:

"Despite a certain likeness (to Saddam Hussein), there are ...differences, thanks to which one can exclude the possibility that this was the real Saddam,"

There will be many obituaries and reports: the Telegraph already has a particularly well informed analysis from Nigel Jones on Haider's impact on Austrian politics.

But I wonder whether anybody will be able to sort this particular mystery out.

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