Friday :: Apr 9, 2004

Would You Sacrifice Your Citizens For The Bloody Petroleum Lust Of George W. Bush?

by pessimist

Due to the support pullbacks by so many of the 'Coalition of the Billing', what conclusion can one draw but that threats against non-American occupiers bring quick results?

Numerous countries have publically stated that they will withdraw their troops, other have declared they will send no more. These countries seem to not be the targets of further threats, at least for now. It's the others who have yet to display an awareness of the quagmire Shrub led them into.

In just the last few days, Japan, Korea, and Canada have had citizens taken hostage in Iraq. The idea is to pressure countries whose governments have ignored the public will and sent military support for the BFEE/PNAC Multinational Corporation Petroleum Piracy Posse.

Before anyone accuses me of being overjoyed about this, I'm not. These hostages are in the hands of people who have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Their fates are perilous, and as the events in Fallujah demonstrated last week, a dire outcome is realistic. These people and their families have my sincere condolences even if nothing further happens to them and they are released without further harm.

There is no point to ignoring this situation, however. It is yet another sign that BushCo blew their invasion badly by making seriously flawed plans for their occupation. Their arrogant treatment of the Iraqis over self-determination and their pillaging of the assets of the country can only lead to such actions, for no other expression of grievance has been left open to the Irraqi people.

So what is going on there?

In a dramatic video released Thursday, insurgents revealed they had kidnapped three Japanese and threatened to burn them alive in three days unless Japan agrees to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera, broadcasting to Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, aired portions of the video of the Japanese hostages released by a previously unknown group calling itself the "Mujahedeen Squadrons." It showed two men and one woman surrounded by gunmen wearing black, and close-ups of the captives' passports.

Armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the kidnappers shouted "Allahu akbar" — God is great — in the video and held knives to the throats of the Japanese, who screamed and whimpered in terror.

Japan's NHK television identified the captives as two aid workers and a journalist. The passports shown in the video belong to Noriaki Imai, born 1985; Soichiro Koriyama, 32; and Nahoko Takato, 34. The gunmen also displayed a press card for Koriyama from the weekly newspaper Asahi.

The events suggested a new tactic by insurgents to pressure the governments of Washington's allies in Iraq, and posed dire implications for U.N. workers, journalists, religious groups, security personnel and other civilians doing business here.

Japan's government said it has no plans to pull troops out of Iraq in response to the threat, which came amid a series of other kidnappings targeting civilians. Japan has about 530 ground troops in Samawah, part of a total planned deployment of 1,100 soldiers for a mission to purify water and carry out other reconstruction tasks.

The people of Japan have something else to say about this:

Iraq Abduction Puts Japan Gov't in Crisis

The abduction of three Japanese in Iraq plunged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi into his deepest crisis since taking office three years ago, as relatives of the hostages and thousands of protesters pressed the government Friday to withdraw Japanese troops from Iraq.

Thousands massed near the prime minister's official residence and held a candlelight vigil for captive aid workers Noriaki Imai, 18, and Nahoko Takato, 34; and photojournalist Soichiro Koriyama, 32.

"As a parent, it would be just unbearable to see my child being burned alive, if that really happens," Koriyama's mother Kimiko said at a news conference.

"Time is running out," said Ayako Inoue, Takato's younger sister. "My uneasiness and anxiety grows as the time passes."

Opposition leaders said they want to help Koizumi bring the captives home safely, but would hold him liable for the outcome. "We foresaw trouble like this when the government decided to send troops to Iraq," said Katsuya Okada, secretary-general of the Democratic Party. "Prime Minister Koizumi bears a serious responsibility for inviting a situation like this."

Tokyo's stock average declined amid worries the crisis could destabilize Koizumi's leadership. "If you're willing to assume something bad happens, then the public will be very upset and Koizumi and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will be exceptionally vulnerable," said John Richards, Japan Strategist at Barclays Capital. "Just the feel of that is bad for stocks."

Koizumi called an emergency meeting of his Cabinet and created a task force to formulate a response to the kidnappings. Vice President Dick Cheney visits this weekend, and the prime minister is expected to make a strong request for help.

Other hostages

Two Arab residents of east Jerusalem — one an Israeli citizen working for a U.S. aid group — and seven South Korean Christian missionaries were detained Thursday, though the Koreans were released.

The South Korean missionaries were stopped by armed men at a checkpoint on a highway from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad. The eight Koreans were traveling in two cars to attend the opening of a missionary school near the northern city of Mosul, Seoul officials said.

The gunmen dragged seven of the missionaries from the vehicles and seized their passports. The eighth said she escaped when the Iraqi driver of her car drove off before she could get out.

Freed after about nine hours, one of the missionaries, a middle-aged man, told APTN in Baghdad that the captors, who wore masks, treated them well.

"First, I felt insecure, but later they made us feel comfortable and gave us food and drinks," the man said. "I think at first they thought we were linked to U.S. soldiers."

About 460 South Korean medics and military engineers have been in Nasiriyah for almost a year. They are to come home after South Korea's planned deployment of 3,600 more troops to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq later this year.

News of the kidnappings of the two Arabs came in video footage from Iranian television, rebroadcast on Israeli television. It shows images of the men's documents, including an Israeli driver's license, a health insurance card and a supermarket card. A U.S. driver's license from the state of Georgia also was displayed.

The men identify themselves as Nabil Razouk, 30, and Ahmed Yassin Tikati, 33. An uncle of Razouk told AP his nephew had an Israeli passport and worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Razouk is a Christian and is married to a Czech woman, Anton Razouk said.

He pleaded for his nephew's safety in an APTN interview. "I want to tell the Iraqis he is not a spy, not for America and not for Israel," the uncle said. "He is an Arab, a member of the Arab nation, a Palestinian like me living in Jerusalem under Israeli occupation."

More calls for help by relatives

Arafat Called upon to Intercede on Behalf of Hostages in Iraq

Family members of the Israeli Arab hostages being held in Iraq have turned to PA leader Yasser Arafat to intercede on behalf of their loved ones in the hope of obtaining their release, unharmed.

Considering what the Israelis have done to Arafat's image, I hope this helps.

Woe! Canada!

A Canadian humanitarian aid worker for the International Rescue Committee was taken hostage Wednesday by a local militia in Najaf, southern Iraq, the agency said Thursday. Fadhi Ihsan Fadel was the first Canadian to be abducted in Iraq, Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesman Sameer Ahmed said in Toronto.

Fadel, the Canadian aid worker, is a 33-year-old who was born in Syrian, the IRC said. He manages a UNICEF-funded program that provides humanitarian assistance for vulnerable children and youth in southern Iraq, the New York-based IRC said in a statement on its web site.

Those activities included the rehabilitation of a youth center, the distribution of wheelchairs to injured children in Najaf and support to local schools, the IRC said.

It isn't stopping here. According to this report, hostage-taking is spreading:

Insurgents seize more foreign hostages

Iraqi insurgents say they have seized four Italians and two Americans, according to reports. Insurgents said they had captured four Italians travelling in a four-wheel-drive vehicle with weapons in it. They said they had seized the Americans in a separate attack. [As of the moment I write this, the American hostages have not been confirmed - ed] A journalist saw two captive foreigners, believed to be two of the Italians. One was wounded in the left shoulder, apparently from a gunshot. Both were weeping. They were wearing close-fitting dark blue t-shirts. The men called out "Italians, Italians" as they were hauled into the mosque by Sunni insurgents.

This latest move comes amid growing concern for a British man missing in Iraq who is also feared to have been kidnapped. The British man has been named as Gary Teeley, a civilian contractor working at a US military base in the town of Nassiriyah. He has been missing since Monday.

Italy and Britain aren't the only ones:

Spanish Hostages

Moqtada Sadr's militia said it was holding Spanish hostages and possibly an American.

"We hold coalition hostages, most of them Spaniards, and possibly a US soldier, whom we want to swap against Mustafa al-Yaacubi", said Amar al-Husseini, a spokesman for Sadr.

Coalition forces have arrested Yaacubi under the charges of involvement in murder of Ayetullah Majeed al-Khoi last year in Najaf, however he denies the charges.

Let's take a look at what the militias are up against. It makes the desperation behind the hostage-taking more understandable:

Ongoing operation in Fallujah was begun after killing of four US nationals in the area, in which Cobra and Apache helicopters dropped 500 pound heavy bombs over various places including mosques in the town.

NBC Network News showed on Thursday a video of an American helicopter dropping such a bomb.

This hostage tactic is having an effect:

Kazakhstan has announced withdrawal of its forces till 30th of May following the increment in attacks on coalition forces.

Even countries who had not yet had any citizens taken captive are having concerns:

Australia fears citizens in Iraq maybe kidnapped

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday he feared Australian aid workers in Iraq could be kidnapped, but said the country would not be blackmailed into pulling its troops out.

"It's not so much the Australian embassy staff and officials who would be at risk of being kidnapped, it's much more aid workers," Downer said.

"That would be the concern we'd have, but it's also important to send out the message that if people think they can change Australian government policy by kidnapping Australians, the answer is they can't."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said 117 Australians were registered with the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad, most of them Iraqis with dual nationality.

There are 850 Australian troops in and around Iraq and Prime Minister John Howard has said they will stay until the job is done, despite calls by the opposition to bring them home by Christmas. He said earlier this week that no more forces would be sent to Iraq.

If they can't capture them, they kill them:

Former British Soldier Shot Dead in Iraq

Michael Bloss, 38, who had served with the Parachute Regiment, was working for an American company as a security guard, protecting civilian contractors, when he was killed. News of Mr Bloss’s death came as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw warned that this week’s dramatic upsurge in violence is “profoundly dangerous” for the coalition’s forces and its objectives, as well as the country’s civilian population.

Even Russia, who frankly has little to gain by assisting with US efforts in Iraq and Central Asia, is growing concerned:

Moscow worried over Iraq situation

High-ranking diplomats in the Russian Foreign Ministry have underscored the particular danger of the current "violence spiral." From the very beginning Russia believed the military operation of the United States and Great Britain in Iraq was a mistake, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told Itar-Tass. "Today we witness another manifestation of all the difficulties the decision to settle the problem by force has led," he said. A way out to a firm Iraqi settlement should be sought for by political means, the diplomat believes.

Russia repeatedly proposed holding a multilateral conference where first of all Iraq's all political forces should be widely represented. It is important to ensure searching for political decisions legitimate and supported by the U.N. Security Council’s authority, decisions respected by all parties, Kislyak said.

Something is certainly going on, or why would this happen?

U.S. Forces in Iraq Pull Out of Baghdad's Sadr City, AFP Says

U.S. soldiers in Baghdad evacuated police stations and the town hall in Baghdad's Shiite Muslim district of Sadr City after five days of fighting with supporters of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Agence France-Presse reported.

The district, called Saddam City under ousted President Saddam Hussein, is now named after al-Sadr's father, who was assassinated in 1999. It has been one of the centers of violent attacks against U.S.-led occupation forces in the past week.

U.S. troops pulled out of the central police station in Sadr City, six other police posts and the town hall, AFP said, without giving further details.

Even the American business press community is beginning to question the latest events, although their motives are suspect:

A Call to Nonlethal Arms in Iraq

The Pentagon is developing alternatives to bombing mosques. Fallujah shows why such technologies should move forward

Is it better to blow up mosque -- or just slime it? It's a serious question, and one that the Pentagon brass should be asking itself after the furor surrounding an American missile strike on a mosque in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Apr. 7. The move enraged both Sunnis and Shiites, not just in Iraq but across the Muslim world. And it tainted an otherwise perfectly justifiable military action -- the troops were trying to subdue insurgents who had perpetrated unspeakable acts against foreign contractors when they ambushed and killed four U.S. citizens, dismembered their bodies, and hung them from a nearby bridge.

None of this had to happen. The U.S. military has been developing a raft of nonlethal anti-personnel weapons that seem tailor-made for precisely the type of urban warfare now unfolding across Iraq.

Similarly, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has a host of projects in the works that use sophisticated technology to accomplish military objectives without killing innocents. What's the Pentagon waiting for? Now is the time to give serious consideration to these weapons.

In all likelihood, future conflicts in the world's hotspots will involve urban warfare. And terrorists or militant extremists understand quite well that they make themselves far more troublesome targets if they surround themselves in a sea of innocents.

The world-class investors are getting nervous also, issuing statements that it just might be time for mulitnational investors to call their cash home:

Short on global longs

It's probably the right time to take profits and reduce positions in those countries that have enjoyed a recent rally. We're also short a number of overbought developed-country markets that will suffer disproportionately from internal weakness and global violence in the coming weeks. That pain and those attacks are likely to be felt especially by that mother of all democracies, the first emerging market itself, the United States.

Where to go long? The funds Emerging Markets Group manages and advises have generally responded to recent events simply by pulling back, selling, and generating cash. As far as new, aggressive long positions -- other than gold, U.S. Treasuries, and other traditional hedges that tend to accompany bearishness on stock prices, we're fairly short of ideas.

I guess the New Multinational Corporate World Order wasn't so profitable after all.

As I hope I have demonstrated with these liked excerpts, it's going all wrong, and we need to deal with the situation before it gets much worse. We need a mind-set change here in America before too many more Americans die. We need a regime change so that the causes of this conflict are reduced. We need an oversight change, where the UN takes over jurisdiction of the country and Arab nations would be more inclined to use their influence to end the violence.

None of this is going to solve any of the current problems in Iraq, but without these steps a solution is not possible. And America, so ill-defended by politically-minded leaders, will be at greater risk than ever.

pessimist :: 1:18 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!