Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Saddamist vigilantes bask in U.S. accolades

Pro-war bloggers are crowing over a piece of news from Fallujah, that hotbed of Iraqi Sunni resistance, as if it were necessarily good: a tribal chief led a "raid" to free some Jordanian kidnap victims. A rather breathless Ravi Nessman, writing for AP:
In an extraordinary assault, gunmen in Fallujah stormed a kidnappers' lair and forced the overmatched militants inside to flee, freeing four Jordanian truck drivers held captive, local officials said Wednesday.
The pro-war blogosphere has of course taken this event up as proof of some kind of victory over terrorism. To me it smelled a little like the Legend of Jessica Lynch in Arab Male Drag. Another malodorous out-of-control meme, replete with fabricated quotes. And my nose hasn't failed me much. What was really going on here? I started to dig.

"Extraordinary assault." More soberly described as a "raid" in other stories. Well, "raid" is how the local tribal chief enabler is said to have described it. However, yet other stories speak only of "mediation." One wonders if tea wasn't served at some point during this raid.

One Mohammed abu Jaafar was mum on details (beyond "mediation") for any story about his brother's release. According to a story by another AP reporter, Shafika Mattar, who was perhaps slightly less heat-crazed than Ravi Nessman as deadlines drew near:
Mohammed, speaking from his home in Jordan, said his brother Ahmad told him they were freed about midnight Tuesday on the mediation of Jassam. He did not describe the details of the release.
In a cooler moment, with a little more detail in hand, Pamela Constable of the WaPo writes:
Late Tuesday, Sheik Ibrahim Mohammed Jassam, a tribal elder in Fallujah who led negotiations for the truckers' release, told news agencies that a squad of "resistance fighters" had been sent to the captors' house to free the hostages. But the raid was conducted without a shot being fired, and the kidnappers were not arrested.
Ah, somehow it escapes Jassam's new-found fans as they cheer him on in leading his brave posse: he's probably a Saddam loyalist, if anything. His beef may not be so much with kidnapping, but with people on his turf working as freelance kidnappers, a game he'd prefer to have a little more leverage over. Why didn't he work with the government, turn the matter over to the police? Well, probably because the U.S. puppet governmnet cuts no ice in Fallujah (or what little ice there is to be found in a region with only intermittent electricity and 125-degree heat.)

But it's not all bad news. Even an Iraqi-American can see a silver lining in this kidnapping cloud. As a Straits Times story quotes one Eric Nigh, vice-president of the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce,
The plans of foreign transporters to withdraw from Iraq appear negative on the surface .... But I think it is positive as a lot of Iraqi transport companies can replace these foreigners and do business with the multinational forces.
In an Iraq with 30-50% unemployment, I suppose it's a sort of blessing. Unless you're Sheikh Hisham al-Dulaimi, AKA (according to yet another AP report) "the negotiator no one trusts". He may find the competition from Ibrahim Mohammed Jassam unwelcome.
Because of his suspected proximity to militants, some US military officials privately say they distrust al-Dulaimi's overtures when he visits to seek funds for reconstruction projects in the city. Officially, the military won't comment.

He strongly denies being in league with the militants. "Like everyone else, I'm against kidnapping," he said. "I consider this an act of terrorism."
An act that no doubt leaves him shocked. Just shocked.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger FransGroenendijk said...

"Hat tip" Michael.
I am afraid this is a case of wishful thinking.
I also wish this was a turning point I'm afraid however that Lounsbury's term of Lebanonization is mote to the point.

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