Monday, August 30, 2004


Iraqi insurgents now extending their targets

I've been trying, as a lone individual, to keep one thread of the Iraqi tangle visible: the status of the underpinnings of Iraqi reconstruction—or rather, since there is essentially no reconstruction going on, the maintenance of the status quo. I have no more access to first-hand knowledge than you do, which is to say that I rely on news reports. But the reports, almost never tied together by the media, keep coming.

The insurgents have primarily used two methods to defeat Anglo-American efforts: sabotage and hostage-taking. I suspect that even the insurgents are surprised at how effective they've been.

Sabotage has been adeptly applied to the oil fields, with striking results. Last Wednesday some 20-odd pipelines were attacked in Southern Iraq, followed by successful attacks on Friday and Saturday. Iraqi oil exports have been cut in half, from 1.8 million to 900,000 barrels a day. Aside from the U.S. donation, oil is the only souce of funds that this regime can expect to see.

But it is the effect of hostage-taking that is going largely unnoticed. And if anything, it must be having the greater effect. After all, it doesn't really matter how much money the government has if the supplies and personnel aren't available. Another unremarked aspect of this effort is that it is aimed at corporations, not governments.

To date, I've noted the decline in overland truck shipments, first from Turkey, then from Jordan as insurgents have put trucking firms on notice that truck-driving in a war zone is dangerous to their employees' health.

Now two more Turkish hostages have been released—not truckers this time.

On Wednesday a Turkish television channel aired footage showing two Turks held hostage in Iraq by armed militants who threatened to execute them unless their company withdraws from the country within 72 hours.

They were identified as Ozdemir and Daskin, two engineers kidnapped from their worksite in Iraq.

The employer of the two men — the Ankara-based Usluer-Sa/Ra joint venture which was repairing electricity networks in Iraq — announced the same day that it was ending its operations in the war-torn country. [emphasis added]

This suggests that the insurgents, having successfully constricted the overland supply route, may now be turning their attention to reducing the importation of technological expertise.

Meanwhile, Anglo-U.S. troops have all they can do to protect themselves and government officials. The U.S. has unwisely contracted out the security for reconstruction efforts to private firms, to be overseen by Aegis.

Related posts:
Will kidnappings alter the Iraqi employment situation? (updated)
Turkish hostage executed
More Turkish companies vamoosing from Iraq
Where's the ice cream truck?
Mud-wrestling: Dyncorp vs. Aegis (Updated)

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