Tuesday :: Apr 13, 2004

Back In The Real World

by pessimist

One can tell that one is having an influence when the trolls move in for a long-term stay. In an effort to allow us to have a real discussion, I thought that I might ask Toby Petzold explain for us where he got the word 'inapt'.

One dictionary I've looked in has that word - \In*apt"\, a. [Pref. in- not + apt: cf. F. inapte. Cf. {Inept}.] Unapt; not apt; unsuitable; inept. -- {In*apt"ly}, adv. -- {In*apt"ness}, n.

Will that raise my grade to a 'D', Perfessor Petzold?

By the way, Toby - Jenin wasn't something the US had a direct hand in. You might call the Israeli Embassy and ask them for directions.

And then there's our favorite pet troll, muckdog. This article is NOT - repeat NOT!!! about housing prices. If you want to talk housing prices, you can get some good deals here. Happy House Hunting!

As for Ricky Vandal, plplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplplp!

Now that the kids have some toys to play with, we can get back to the news from Iraq.

One of my favorite sources for news is the BBC. Many is the time that I would hear about something happening in the US and no American news site has anything on it, I go to the Beeb and there it is - like a real media outlet would do if we had any here in the United States.

Checking in today, I found a lot of articles on Iraq, so many that I'm sure it wouldn't all fit in the memory space our site software will handle. I'll give you the best paragraphs and let you decide if you want to read the rest. If I have any comments, I'll add them.

Unless you like working at Wal-Mart or Burger King, good paying jobs are fleeing the country faster than conter-terrorism experts from the Bush (mis)Administration. Why not flee also, and go where the good bucks are? muckdog would if he weren't so immature (as his ex-girlfriend, the lovely and charming Spawn of Satan, would insist), but that's for another post.

Why brave the dangers in Iraq?

As job opportunities go, the offer of a posting to Iraq may not sound especially tempting. The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime led to thousands of people flocking to the country for work, which often came with a big salary and a sense of adventure to match. Despite the stark warnings people still think the risks are worth taking.

For Gary Teeley, a 37-year-old father-of-five from Woolwich in south-east London, it was a favour that saw him return to the country. Mr Teeley, who works for a Qatar based firm, says his best friend wanted a week off to see his newborn son and so he offered to step in. His mother, Patricia, says she would like to think he was getting paid well, but that a sense of adventure also played a part. "Perhaps, like a lot of young men, he does not think he's indispensable, but that he will be okay," she says. "I think he saw it as an experience."

The British Foreign Office warns it has "limited responsibilities" towards civilians and UK Trade and Investment, a government body advising firms, offers little more comfort for those determined go to Iraq. It says companies should only go there if they have "strong commercial reasons" for doing so and that while the government will try to help if anything goes wrong, there is no guarantee it will be able to.

Some comments:

My country used to have some companies working in Iraq territories, building highways. It was before the Gulf war. I had some friends over there when the war begun, I could see the fears into their eyes, they had families down here. Personally I would not leave my family and friends for such a risk. Every day I see on TV the strikes against civilians and foreigners in Iraq. Brazil lost a son in the attack against the UN headquarters and so I would like to see all foreign civilians out of Iraq until the war ends. Money is nice but life is better. - Francisco Antonio, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I work in telecommunications and I have been offered $1,000 per day to work in Iraq, even the chance to earn $20,000 per month does not justify the risk to my life; even when told that I would be given opportunity to carry a gun to protect myself and we would have close protection security team to look after us. However several of my friends are now working in Iraq on telecommunications projects so it seems some people are willing to take the risk.
- Simon, UK

My brother left to work in Iraq three weeks ago, and ever since life has not been the same. Chatting with him online every morning has become my daily ritual and drive, as it is the only way I know he is alright. The worst times are when there is bad news on TV and I cannot "see" my brother online. This feeling of uncertainty, not knowing anything is devastating...it makes you wonder if anything is really worth jeopardizing your life in a war zone like Iraq.
- Angie Hussami, Syrian living in Norway

OK, that's some news of the employed. So what about the employers in Iraq?

Safety fears halt Iraq trade fair

A massive trade fair in Baghdad has been cancelled just days before it was to start, after the US State Department warned it could by targeted by rebels. The State Department told US firms that "terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets", a source close to the event told BBC News Online. The decision is a blow to US efforts to attract global investors to Iraq, as many were expected at the event.

The US State Department warned that "it is not possible to guarantee security" for American citizens at the Baghdad event. A number of private firms which had been tasked with securing the site were also reported to have voiced last-minute concerns about its vulnerability to insurgent attack.

The Baghdad Expo was organised by the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was billed as the largest post-war gathering of businesses. Bassam Qadoumi, whose firm was involved in sponsorship and transportation for the Expo, told BBC News Online many parties had invested a lot of money in the event. He said he hoped it would be rescheduled. The organisers have not said whether the event will now be held at a later date.

The Expo's website reveals a wide range of global corporations had planned exhibits. The list includes Canon, DHL, General Electric, Daewoo, Samsung and Microsoft. US firms already active in Iraq such as Bechtel and Halliburton were also planning a presence there.

If the employers are nervous, what advice for those seeking the big bucks?

Foreign workers told to quit Iraq

Foreign nationals are being urged to flee Iraq as governments and private companies react to growing insecurity and a wave of kidnappings. Italian officials said four Italian employees of a private US security agency, DTS Security, were missing. France has followed Germany in issuing a formal warning urging its citizens to leave, calling the kidnappings "unacceptable". The British Foreign Office said it continued to advise against all but the most essential travel to Iraq. Russia's biggest contractor in Iraq, Tekhpromexport, is pulling its 370 staff out of Iraq amid security concerns. A number of other foreigners have been taken hostage or reported missing in Iraq, including three Japanese citizens abducted last Thursday whose fate remains unknown.

4 Italians
3 Japanese
3 Czechs
1 American
1 Canadian
1 Israeli Arab
1 French

1 out of 14 isn't bad, eh Toby?

Other hostages have been released. Three Russian and five Ukrainian engineers abducted by insurgents in Baghdad were freed unharmed on Tuesday, one day after they were kidnapped, and seven Chinese men seized near the flashpoint town of Falluja on Sunday were also released after being held for a day.

There is no genuine transfer of power... They say freedom and democracy and yet they appoint a governor
- Moqtada Sadr

So what about some of the others that were unaccounted for?


Bodies 'of US Iraq workers' found

Four bodies, reported to be those of US contractors missing since an ambush on their fuel convoy last week, have been found west of Baghdad. Two US soldiers and seven civilian employees of US oil firm Kellogg, Brown and Root are still missing after the attack on Friday. NBC News said the bodies were those of some of the missing men, but this has not been confirmed by US officials.

Driver Thomas Hamill, 43, was seized following the attack on the convoy. His captors threatened to kill him if the US siege of Falluja was not lifted, but there has been no word on his fate since 11 April.

Americans - yes, Toby! Even us stupid godless commie pinko lib'ruls - are saddened that anyone is being held hostage over the misguided policies of George Warmonger Bush and the PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse. All the civilized world is. We'd even feel bad if they had you.

Tensions over Asian hostages

Seven Chinese hostages who were kidnapped in Iraq on Sunday have been freed, but there is still no word on the fate of three Japanese hostages. The Chinese kidnappings had threatened to overshadow US Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Beijing, which begins later on Tuesday. The seven Chinese men appeared on al-Jazeera television shortly after their release - they were smiling and seemed to be in good spirits, although two of them were slightly injured in a traffic accident, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

It is still not clear why the Chinese men were captured, as Beijing has strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq.

The [Japanese] hostages' relatives are emotionally exhausted, swinging between joy and despair. A report on Sunday said the captives were to be released, but it failed to be borne out. "There are several pieces of information that I would like to believe in... but we're not getting any information that seems truly real," said Kimiko Koriyama, the mother of 32-year-old freelance journalist Soichiro Koriyama.

What about the Iraqis? You'd think that now that they have been generously granted - TAA-DAA! - American-style freedom and and liberty by Ahmed Chalbi's collaborating multinational corporate governmental benefactors, they would rise up like Baghdad Minutemen and defend their new rights, right?

Iraqi troops reject Falluja duty

A senior US military officer in Iraq has said that a 620-man battalion of the new Iraqi army refused to support US forces in the town of Falluja. It was the first time US commanders had sought to involve post-war Iraqi forces in major combat operations. The troops were quoted as saying they had not signed up to fight Iraqis. The troops were supposed to be given secondary tasks such as manning checkpoints and securing the perimeter, but had apparently not been told this. Analysts say the incident has exposed serious weaknesses, casting further doubt on US plans to transfer security matters to Iraqis.

BBC regional analyst Sadeq Saba says the refusal of Iraqi soldiers to fight in Falluja also shows that they fear for their lives. He says Iraqi security officers themselves have been a major target for the armed fighters in the country and many of them have been killed. The battalion is one of four in the new army.

A report in the Washington Post quoted Major General Paul Eaton, who is overseeing the development of the new army, as saying that the situation was "a command failure". He refused to characterise it as a mutiny. "The lines are blurring for a lot of Iraqis right now, and we're having problems with a lot of security functions," he said.

Don't they know that the universal soldier's motto is "When the going gets tough, the tough get going?"

Maybe not. Maybe they're already gone - missing.

German exodus as soldiers vanish

Two Germans reported to be special forces members are feared dead in Iraq, as the government in Berlin warns its citizens to flee the country. The two men, working for the German embassy in Baghdad, have been missing for days. They were travelling from Baghdad to Jordan when they were ambushed, and no kidnap claim has been made.

The missing men are said to be members of Germany's elite GSG-9 special forces group. They have been identified in German media reports as Tobias R, 25, and Thomas H, 38. Despite the wave of kidnappings in Iraq, no group has claimed that it is holding the men and officials say they are most likely to be dead. A reporter for the London-based Daily Telegraph in the city has said he saw the bodies of two Germans in the area.

There are also fears for two Czechs, after a taxi firm told AFP news agency they were abducted en route to Jordan. One report said they were television journalists.

Meanwhile two people believed to be the last German aid workers in Iraq reached Jordan on Monday, after their charity said it was too dangerous to stay.

Trouble Elsewhere

"German citizens are advised to leave Iraq," the Foreign Ministry said in its warning to other Germans to stay out of Iraq. In the face of developments in the region, be advised there is also a high security risk in Kuwait. Because of the situation in Iraq, people are again urgently warned against travel in the neighbouring country."

On Friday, French group Premiere Urgence - one of the few charities still operating in Iraq - also suspended its work there. "Premiere Urgence is alarmed at the chaos into which Iraq has plunged and is provisionally suspending its activities," it said in a statement.

Americans aren't going to cut and run once things go bad - or will they? One father insists the answer is yes.

Plea to halt US girls' Iraq duty

The parents of a woman killed in Iraq are pleading for her two servicewomen sisters not to be sent back there. Michelle Witmer, 20, was killed in an ambush on Friday when her Humvee jeep came under fire in Baghdad. Her sisters Rachel and Charity, both with the National Guard, are serving tours of duty in Iraq.

Their father, John, says his family has sacrificed enough and his surviving daughters should not have to return to Iraq after Michelle's funeral. "I can't live another year like I've lived this one," he said. "The sacrifice that this family's made can never be understood by someone who hasn't gone through it... It's a burden I can't bear. My family can't bear it."

Is it still all about the economy and housing prices, mucky?

They have given one daughter. That should be enough for one family
- Violet Pehringer, Neighbour

We can still count on the Coalition of the Billing, can't we? WE CAN'T?!?!?!?!??

Tories urge bigger UN role in Iraq

The United Nations should be given a bigger say in the run-up to the handover of power to an Iraqi authority, say the Conservatives. Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said coalition troops needed to be "strengthened" to help restore order. He told the BBC a UN force should not take over from the coalition but the UN's political role should be enhanced.

'Disruption expected'

The Tories want it to play a greater advisory role on such issues as the date for elections and the handover process. Mr Ancram told Radio 4's Today programme: "There is a stronger role for the United Nations on the political front in bringing about what we hope will be a successful transfer of power."

Occupation breeds resistance and resistance provokes the extreme violence of the occupiers which causes more pain and suffering leading to even more stern resistance. It is a spiral of violence.
- Prince Hassan of Jordan

Mr Ancram denied Iraq was in chaos. "Everybody realised that as the moment approached when power was going to be returned to the Iraqis there would be forces in Iraq that would try to disrupt," he said. He also rejected a call from former senior UN official Sir Marrack Goulding for US forces to withdraw completely and hand over to Arab and Muslim forces acting under UN authority. But he argued the 30 June deadline for the power transfer should not be "set in stone" and its feasibility should be assessed nearer the time.

And what does the UN feel about this proposal?

Annan doubts over UN Iraq return

The UN secretary general has stated he cannot say he will send a large UN team back to Iraq in the foreseeable future because of continuing insecurity. Ongoing violence has stopped the UN committing to return to Iraq after the coalition hands back power on 30 June. Staff were pulled out in October after a bomb attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed more than 20.

Kofi Annan said the violence on the ground was not conducive for the transition of power, but suggested the 30 June deadline for the handover of sovereignty would remain. "The date has been out there for some time," he told reporters. "It has been embraced by the Iraqis themselves, who are anxious to see the end of occupation as soon as possible and I believe that it is going to be difficult to pull it back," he said.

Unclear role

There is, as yet, no clearly defined role for the UN after the handover. Mr Annan said there were discussions about how UN staff would be protected if they returned.

The UN special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Baghdad helping Iraqis decide on the formation of an interim government, and a small UN team is looking at when elections might be possible. It was suggested they could be held in January if preparations began immediately. Mr Annan said he could not say whether this date was still viable and he needed to talk to the team on the ground.

Few easy answers in Iraq

The violence in Iraq over the past week is far from a generalised Shia uprising, but the Americans can take little comfort from that. A few days of mayhem have shown the vulnerability of US supply lines and raised serious questions about the White House's handling of post-war Iraq. The hostage-taking has demonstrated the dangers confronting foreign civilian workers and has only served to enhance the climate of insecurity.

One year after the US-led invasion, things are decidedly not going according to the Pentagon's game plan. The recent violence underscores some of the fateful errors made in the aftermath of the US victory, and it also serves as a warning of the much greater violence that could result if the Shia majority in Iraq as a whole decided to vent its wrath against US and other occupying forces.

'Light' warfare

There is a kind of vicious circle to the Pentagon's problems that is worth re-stating. The US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to make Iraq a test-case for his new transforming military - a sort of "taster" for America's wars of the future. In his view the US could win "light", using relatively few forces but employing US firepower and information dominance to maximum effect. The results were a spectacularly swift victory over an albeit disillusioned and dramatically inferior Iraqi army. But, the Pentagon's critics ask, what was the point of winning "light" if there were insufficient troops on the ground to restore and maintain stability in the country at large once the war was won?

Nonetheless, for all the criticism and complaints, there are no easy answers for the Americans in Iraq, a fact that will no doubt dwell on President Bush's mind as the November elections come ever closer.

But it IS offensively inapt for us not to admit that it's really all about the budget-busting Bush economy raising housing values! We should know better than to doubt Owwer Leedur!

We now return you to the vapid blathering rants of our resident closed-minded conservative trolls.

Meanwhile, the rest of you may now comment.

pessimist :: 5:35 PM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!