The New York Times apparently agrees with the rebels in Iraq.
A group of armed Iraqi insurgents, their faces masked, claimed on Saturday to be holding 30 foreigners hostage and threatened to kill them unless the United States halted its offensive in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad.It's disgusting, but not surprising, to see the NYT pushing the rebels' agenda by insisting that the recent kidnappings in Iraq have a strong possibility of influencing Coalition action. Until Spain's recent capitulation I would have said there was no chance that any country would retreat in the face of such threats, but apparently now the terrorists think they can successfully blackmail their enemies by killing a handful of civilians. Thanks Spain.
In a film from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that was shown repeatedly on Arabic television, a masked man representing the group said: "We have Japanese, Bulgarian, Israeli, American, Spanish and Korean hostages. Their numbers are 30."
He added: "If America doesn't lift its blockade of Falluja, their heads will be cut off."
The tape did not show any hostages, however, and it was not possible to confirm that such a group was being held. But several foreigners are known to be missing, putting intense pressure on Japan and other American allies.
There's absolutely no chance the CPA is going to withdraw from Fallujah or Iraq just because a few hostages have been taken. There is, of course, "intense pressure" that our operations in Iraq go well and as smoothly as possible, but very little of it has anything to do with the hostage situation. The NYT isn't full of idiots and the reporters know these simple facts, but because the paper has it's own foreign policy agenda it's decided to spin the news to support it.
Meanwhile, it's good to see that al Sistani -- the most politically powerful Shi'ite in Iraq -- is finally acting to quell the violence. He was tolerating it (if not supporting it?) for his own purposes, but he doesn't want the fighting to get beyond his control.
In Kuwait, an associate of Iraq's leading Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, denounced the kidnapping of the Japanese as a terrorist act and demanded their immediate release, Reuters reported. The associate, Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Mohri, said in a sermon at Friday Prayer that was carried by newspapers on Saturday, "This ugly picture hurts Islam and Muslims as it gives a bad impression about our Islamic religion."Ya think?