Monday, August 02, 2004


Turkish hostage executed

I wrote last Monday of the effect that the hostage-taking and execution of foreign workers is inevitably having on labor. Yesterday's events are hastening along the scenario.
In a spine-chilling video footage, posted on a website, Murat Yuce was shown being lectured, blindfolded and shot in the head. As his body slid forward, the executioner shot him twice more in the head.

News of the execution prompted Turkish truckers to stop ferrying goods to US forces in Iraq. "In today’s conditions there is no security for drivers in Iraq. Until security can be guaranteed, we have stopped transporting goods for US forces," Cahit Soysal, head of the International Transporters’ Association (UND), said in Ankara. The group represents around 40 companies.

The AP runs a much lengthier piece, which struggles to describe everything happening in the Middle East, then says this

Several nations — most recently the Philippines — have withdrawn troops from Iraq in the increasing militant violence, and several companies have met militant demands to spare employees. The same group that claimed to have killed the Turk said Monday it would free a Somali captive because his Kuwaiti employer agreed to cease business in Iraq.

In the videotape, posted on an Islamic Web site used by militant groups, a man kneels in front of three armed men and reads a statement in Turkish. He identifies himself as Murat Yuce from the Turkish capital, Ankara, an employee of a Turkish company that subcontracted for a Jordanian firm.

"I have a word of advice for any Turk who wants to come to Iraq to work: 'You don't have to be holding a gun to be aiding the occupationist United States. ... Turkish companies should withdraw from Iraq," he says.

At the end of the statement, one of the masked men takes out a pistol and shoots the Turk in the side of the head. He slumps to the ground, and the kidnapper shoots him in the head twice more. Blood is seen on the ground next to his head.

A black banner on the wall identifies the group as Tawhid and Jihad. The group — led by the Jordanian militant linked to al-Qaida, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — kidnapped two other Turks last week, both truck drivers.

In Ankara, Yuce's employer, Bilintur, issued a statement saying it had heard of his killing. It said he was one of two employees missing in Iraq for three or four days. "Our grief is huge," it said. It said Bilintur was providing a laundry service for a Jordanian company in Iraq. It did not identify the other missing employee. [emphasis mine]

Pretty awful stuff.

The head of Turkey's International Transportation Association, Cahit Soysal, said Monday that by agreeing to stop working with U.S. forces in Iraq, Turkish truckers hope the kidnappers will release the two drivers.

Soysal said the stoppage would affect only the 200-300 trucks owned by more than a dozen Turkish companies that had brought supplies — mostly fuel — to U.S. forces every day. Another 1,700-1,800 trucks with supplies for other purposes would continue to cross the border into Iraq, he said.

If his numbers are correct, that is between 11% and 18% of the truckers no matter how you spin it. And by the way, who's going to replace them? Are the U.S. forces just going to do without the fuel?

Related post: Will kidnappings alter the Iraqi employment situation? (updated)

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