Humanitarians as Targets
Yesterday President Bush "pledged a long-term U.S. commitment to helping the tsunami-hit nations of South Asia on Monday and said the Banda Aceh area of Indonesia is going to require the most intense effort."
Meanwhile in Banda Aceh. "Indonesia told aid workers helping tsunami victims in its worst-hit region, Aceh, on Tuesday not to venture beyond two large cities on Sumatra island because of what it said were militant threats."
The Australian Foreign Minister responded. "Following warnings to the Australian contingent from Islamic hardline groups in Indonesia, Alexander Downer said arming foreign troops would put them at greater risk from insurgents."
We shouldn't worry about attacks because "Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said Indonesia and GAM (Free Aceh Movement) separatists had reached "a gentlemen's agreement" not to launch an offensive and to ensure help reached the needy." This doesn't explain why the head of Indonesia's relief operations thinks that international aid workers are "unsafe" in "some places." Maybe he didn't get the memo about the gentlemen's agreement. I wonder who else didn't get it.
This is more serious than the MSM is letting on. Rant Wraith predicts that sooner or later (and sooner is a good bet) aid workers will be attacked by Islamists. The head of the Islamic Defender's Front, "told The Australian he feared the presence of hundreds of Australian troops in Aceh would corrupt the province's strict Islamic culture."
Why would people bringing food, water and medicine corrupt the fragile Islamic culture? "They should not corrupt Islamic sharia law in force in Aceh, because we know that these foreign soldiers like to bring prostitutes with them. Also, these soldiers drink alcohol and in Aceh it is strictly forbidden." Of course. Silly me. I forgot that amid all the hundreds of tons of supplies are crates of liquor and dozens of Aussie prostitutes. Standard procedure for the decadent infidels. More on the threats at Google News here.
When 'insurgents' start killing soldiers and aid workers, will there be a call to "bring our troops home"? Will Nightline read the names on the air? Will the NYT write editorials about how this whole effort was mis-guilded and poorly planned from the beginning? Will there be a documentary called 'Fahrenheit Banda Aech'?
It sounds like madness, attacking those trying to help you. Yes, it is. The same kind of madness that bombed the U.N. headquarters in Iraq, that kidnapped and murdered aid workers in Afghanistan, that killed hospital workers in Yemen. I could go on. Why should tsunami aid workers, soliders or not, be any different? And when this happens we should not be surprised.
Update: More Aceh developments here.