Sahaf offered TV post

The former Iraqi information minister has been offered an analyst position with Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiyya

    Sahaf was the public face of the Iraqi 
    government for the duration of the war

    An Arab television network said

    on Tuesday it wants to give a job to former Iraqi information

    minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, whose colourful daily

    briefings during the US-led invasion won him a cult following.

    Ali al-Hadethi, supervisor of the Dubai-based Al Arabiyya

    satellite channel, told Reuters that Sahaf, who does not figure

    on Washington's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was welcome to

    join the network immediately as a commentator and analyst.

    Hadethi said he did not know the former minister's

    whereabouts and asked him to contact Al Arabiyya to take up his job.

    "We want to benefit from the experience of Mr Sahaf and his

    analysis of the current situation and the future of Iraq,"

    Hadethi said, without giving details of the job package.

    Dubai and more TV fame beckon for the
    former Iraqi information minister

    A London-based Arabic newspaper reported, meanwhile, that

    Sahaf, dubbed "Comical Ali" for his eccentric denials that Iraqi

    forces were being overrun, was now holed up with his aunt in

    Baghdad and wanted the Americans to arrest and protect him.

    The report said Sahaf had left the northern city of Mosul

    four days ago and was staying at his aunt's house in the

    capital's Palestine Street.

    It quoted a representative of the Patriotic Union of

    Kurdistan (PUK) who said that US troops had refused to take

    Sahaf into custody because he did not figure on the American

    most-wanted list, but that negotiations were continuing.

    Al Arabiyya television executive Hadethi said Sahaf

    "was a

    member of the former regime and had to say what the government

    wanted. He was repeating what was being given to him without

    being able to verify the truth".

    Hadethi said his network was already using Saddam's former

    UN ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, as an analyst in Dubai.

    One of the war's most recognisable faces,
    Sahaf's charisma made him a world favourite

    Sahaf, with his trademark beret and standing behind a forest

    of microphones, quickly built up a worldwide following as his

    daily briefings departed more and more from reality.

    The Iraqi information minister's press conferences acquired him a cult status, beating hands-down the rival briefings offered by the US-led alliance in Doha.

    A Sahaf appreciation website even sprang up

    only to be forced offline by a rush of global interest that

    attracted up to 4,000 hits per second.

    Once Saddam had been toppled, even US President George W

    Bush admitted he was a Sahaf fan.

    "He's my man, he was great," Bush enthused in an interview

    with NBC's Tom Brokaw. "Somebody accused us of hiring him and

    putting him there. He was a classic."



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