Friday, March 31, 2006
American Hostage Freed in Iraq - by Iran?!?
The American Journalist Jill Caroll was finally released after more than 82 days of captivity - in front of the Iraq Islamic Party. She was abducted while on her way to interview a Sunni Arab politician. She said that her captors had treated her well, that she had been fed well and never threatened. “It’s important people know that I was not harmed,” she said (AP).
Read it again: abducted on her way to interview a Sunni politician, released in front of the Iraq Islamic Party, treated well? I want to add one more clause: freed two weeks after Iran agreed to negotiate with the US over Iraq's security. Lets not forget our history: in the 1980s, several American citizens were held hostage in Lebanon. This was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War, and Iran was in dire need of American spare parts for its military. So the Israelis, understanding the political significance of hostages for the American government, suggested selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages. Reagan agreed and authorized the CIA to sell Iran weapons through Israeli dealers, and in exchange, Iran agreed to use its influence over Hezbollah and other Islamic groups in Lebanon in order to get the Americans released: between 1985 and 1986, 44 Americann hostages were released in Lebanon. The whole scandal became known as the Iran-Contra Affair [you can read the full Congressional report on the matter here, although I don't recommend it!].
There are two distinct kinds of hostage-taking, the Zarqawi kind, and the Hezbollah kind. Zarqawi slains and murders his hostages in the most brutal fashion; Hezbollah uses them mainly as bargaining chips. Zarqawi's hostage-taking is more ideologic, whereas Hezbollah's is more strategic. This is because Hezbollah had a tangible, practical goal: to drive the Americans and the Israeli's out of Lebanon; whereas, Al-Qaeda and Sunni Wahhabists, from whom Zarqawi draws inspiration, have no such tangible goals: they want to establish an Islamic Empire, to go back to the glory days of the 7th century, to ressurect the "Pure Muhammadan Islam."
I think the the story of Jill Caroll's release fits a familiar pattern. Bush and Reagan were both tough talkers on evil-doers and evil empires, yet they both signed backdoor deals with the Bin Ladens and the Islamic Republics of this world; they both faced deep criticism for involving American troops in foreign conflicts, Reagan for the troops in Lebanon, and Bush for his continued occupation of Iraq; both presidents also faced domestic scandals and deficits.
Jill Caroll was quickly becoming the symbol of America's failure in Iraq. Who can forget her crying face, the covering of the hair, the humilitation of an American woman at the hands of a gang of Arab men? Images like this are responsible for Bush's miserable ratings - and, ironically, also for the appearance of Iran's nuclear file at the UN Security Council. After all, one of America's biggest beefs with Iran is its support of terrorist organizations. Would you, personally, have any sypmathy for a country's right to nuclear technology if that country supports those who keep such a cute female journalist - journalist for god's sake -hostage for nearly 3 months?
The parallels are just too strong. Would we be reading of an Iran-Karbala Affair in 10, 15 years?
BBC: Freed US Journalist 'Manipulated'
Reuters: Freed Reporter Says Forced Into Anti-US Video