Tony Blair visits Iraq


Listen to this Al Jazeera story in December 2006 about Tony Blair's surprise visit to Iraq.

British English | mp3


At the same time that Tony Blair was arriving in Bagdad on a surprise visit to show support for the Iraqi government this is what was (1) going on elsewhere in the very same city: deserted streets, flaming cars and gun battles between US forces and Iraqi fighters. This is a city at war.

In another neighbourhood to the south a car bomb explosion wounded four civilians. And even before Blair's plane had (2) touched down another mass kidnapping was taking place. Again, it happened in broad daylight in the centre of the Iraqi capital, again it was (3) carried out by armed men in military uniform. But this time it was aid workers who were targeted.

(4) Bunkered away in the Green Zone, the UK Prime Minister met with embattled Iraqi leaders and pledged his backing for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. He also had this explanation for the violence:

Who is creating the difficulty in Iraq today? Who's creating the challenge? Who's creating the bloodshed? The people that are spilling the blood of the innocent in Iraq today are terrorists, are former supporters of Saddam, are everyone who doesn't want to see democracy in this country.

He also paid a visit to British troops in Basra and insisted that the UK would remain in Iraq until the job was done. But as he continues his whirlwind tour of the Middle East, Tony Blair is leaving behind a devastated country with an uncertain future.

Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera.



Phrasal verbs

(1) going on: what was happening in a different part of the city

(2) touched down: before the plane had landed

(3) carried out: armed men did it

(4) bunkered away: protected in the safe area know as the Green Zone