Sunday, July 29, 2007


I swear to the Lord
I still can't see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.
~ Langston Hughes.

Does anyone remember the kidnapping of Crescent Security Group's mercenaries last November? I always thought it was interesting the way a wall of silence fell over the incident, but now--lo and behold--today there's an article about the kidnapping and Crescent Security at the WaPo. What do all of these mercenary firms have in common? Love of money. Check it out:

Most of Crescent's employees were military and law enforcement veterans willing to accept extreme risk in exchange for fast money and adventure. Crescent handed out monthly pay in envelopes stuffed with Kuwaiti dinars. The guards took the money to currency exchange houses, which transferred the funds into their bank accounts.

"All you're thinking about is the money," said Chris Jackson, 28, a former Marine from Salem, N.H. "You have $50,000 in the bank, and all you're thinking about is, 'Another month and I'll have $57,000, another month and I'll have $64,000.' " By the end of last year, Jackson said, he had saved $55,000, even after splurging on Las Vegas vacations and a $5,000 Panerai watch.

"I hate to say it, but I am so thankful for this war," he said. "I only came over here for the money, and I didn't even know I could do this job until two years ago. I didn't know it was available to me."

Crescent's Iraqi employees were recruited by word of mouth; most lived around the southern city of Basra, a hotbed of Shiite militias, and were largely unknown to the company. Crescent used a two-tiered pay scale. Guards from the United States, Britain and other Western countries earned $7,000 a month or more. Iraqi guards earned $600 -- roughly $20 a day -- but performed the most dangerous work, including the manning of belt-fed machine guns while exposed in the back of the Avalanches.

Picco said the system was not ideal but was necessary to hold down costs. "To put 12 white people on a team, it's not economically viable," he said.

This "economically viable" system led to a deterioration of relations between the Western mercenaries and Iraqi mercenaries--no doubt because of the old-timey colonialist, white-man's-burden attitude at the heart of the mercenary business. Shortly after relations deteriorated, a lot of military equipment used by Crescent "disappeared."

Gee, I wonder where it went?

Read the whole thing. It's an incredible scandal. But don't think Crescent is alone in its quest for lucre; Blackwater USA is guilty of the same and body count be damned.

Hevallo has something on Turkish machinations to keep Sebahat Tuncel, parliamentarian-elect from Istanbul, in prison. Turkish "lawmakers," who specialize in changing laws to maintain a racist regime, are now claiming that Sebahat cannot enjoy parliamentary immunity because she was accused of separatism. If it were true that those accused of "crimes against the unity of the state" cannot be granted immunity then why did they free her from prison a few days ago? If the law were already in place and the interpretation of the law against the accused prohibited immunity, then why did they release Sebahat when they knew she would not be able to claim parliamentary immunity?

The answer is because Turkish "lawmakers" have only now come up with this brand-spanking-new interpretation in order to keep Kurds out of parliament and cut them off from the political process. This is consistent with the racist nature of the regime.

Another point: Turkey defended its right to host the HAMAS leader last year in Ankara, even though HAMAS is widely recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, because it's on the same List as PKK. But Turkey defended the right of HAMAS leader Khaled Mashaal to sit down with Abdullah Gül for talks in Ankara. Gül defended the visit thusly:

Gul said that since Hamas won a democratic election, from now on it must act in a democratic way.

Yet Gül's--and AKPs--support for Sebahat Tuncel, who won her parliamentary position in a "democratic election," appears to be non-existent. Additionally, she is merely accused of membership in a "terrorist" organization whereas Khaled Mashaal is the acknowledged leader of a "terrorist" organization. Why is AKP not as eager to settle the problems its predecessors created in its own backyard, but it has to travel the world over to rescue others under repression?

Well, again this is consistent with the racist nature of the Turkish regime.

And, from the Who Cares Department, the Paşas are planning to stage a walk-out when all the new deputies are sworn in, in order to protest the presence of DTP in the parliament. It seems they don't like the idea of the support given by DTP constituents for the Kurdish freedom movement and Abdullah Öcalan.

It's pathetic to be so out-of-touch with reality. Either the Paşas are suffering from a collective case of dementia or the taste of sour grapes has given them a bad case of indigestion. Either way, too bad.

There's one more thing I've been meaning to draw attention to, and that's the recent encounter between Western archaeologist and JITEM in Sêrt (Siirt) at Samarkeolog:

It should be borne in mind at all times that this is only what visiting Westerners are subjected to; the plight of those who live there is immeasurably worse. Unfortunately, there are a range of sources that simplify the situation to the point that they hinder the struggle for human rights and democracy of all of the communities in Turkey, but particularly the Kurds.

[ . . . ]

This is an inordinately long post, for which I can only apologise; I'll try to make a summary of it, but I felt it was important to have as full an account as possible, to help other researchers and people concerned with northern Kurdistan/south-eastern Turkey understand the realities of the situation there (and to show the people there that some foreigners are trying to help).

These notes were largely written during those days and those immediately afterwards, but because of the conditions during the visit and the lack of time and the continuing search for information afterwards, some of them were written more recently.

I ought to make clear, now, that they are summaries of prolonged, stressful encounters, the conversations held almost exclusively in Turkish: some of the conversations were hours-long; sometimes, afterwards, I was still under surveillance, or the threat of it, so I couldn't make notes; my fieldwork diary was repeatedly read by the intelligence services, so I didn't want to make notes.

The conversations presented were written down, albeit sometimes a long time afterwards; they are summaries of the conversations, but the sentences and exchanges included are accurate translations, give or take the difficulty of translating Turkish to English semantically.

If you don't know anything about the situation, believe me, this post will be an eye-opener. In a perverse sort of way, I'm relieved to know that someone besides Kurds sees just how troublesome these JITEM vermin are.

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