Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, January 17, 2003
 
Parliament to Debate Iraq

Yesterday the Prime Minister refused to allow a debate over Belgian involvement in a war in Iraq to take place in parliament, deferring it to friday evening. Naturally the opposition accused him of trying to sweep the issue under the carpet: after 18.00 on a friday, there are not nearly as many journalists present. They also accused the government of not having a clear position yet (which is probably true, greens and socialists are vehemently anti-war, while the more conservative VLD party probably has less problems with a war).
The reason the debate became so pressing was the matter of the American military trains unloading in the port of Antwerp, in order to deploy equipment to the Gulf. Some people even suggested that the train was scheduled by the Americans deliberately in order to provoke debate and to force the government to show their cards. Whatever the reason, I suspect we'll know more tomorrow...

 
Abu Jahjah, Iraq, Belgian politics: all coming together...

Just read in Gazet van Antwerpen (link in Dutch) that Abu Jahjah, leader of the Arab European League has called for blocking the port of Antwerp if the Belgian government does not ban American military transports to the Gulf region. And on Sunday they plan on demonstrating in Brussels, as a "warming up exercise for what will happen if the Belgian government does not change it's attitude".
No comments neccessary?
I'm going to comment anyway: If Jahjah shows up in Brussels on sunday, the cops will snatch him for parole violation. Just a few weeks ago Jahjah was prohibited by a judge from attending any public demonstration for three months, after riots had occured in Antwerp in which he was involved.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
 
Americans in Antwerp: IndyMedia 'reports'

If you believe the reports on belgium.indymedia.org about the U.S. troop and equipment transport currently passing through the port of Antwerp, you'd think eighthundred baby-killing, weapons-of-mass-destruction-toting barbarians had stopped by on their way to Baghdad, where they have a mission to kill as many civilians as possible, for the oil, you know.
Jeez, and it's only a logistics unit... What if a real armoured division would pass through?
The IndyMedia crowd does have a point, though: on the one hand, the green and socialist parties here 'oppose the war', and 'will not let Belgium support it', on the other hand they are in the government and have approved this transport. And in may we have a general election here... So expect more posturing and posing!

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
 
We don't hate you! (Well, at least not all of us...)

Go read this piece by the Norwegian Blogger if you're American. My view exactly!

 
Radio Live from Brussels?

Bjørn Stærk is experimenting with web radio on his site. I've been thinking of doing something similar, perhaps together with a bunch of other Eurobloggers. What do you all think? Would it be worth the effort? What kind of stories could we bring you in this way? Would there be advantages to a radio format that I haven't thought of before? Disadvantages (other than the obvious ones, bandwith and people without soundcards...)? Give me some input, and I might even just do it!

Monday, January 13, 2003
 
American Army in Antwerp

According to this article in Gazet van Antwerpen(link in Dutch), seven- or eight hundred U.S. soldiers are quartered on a military base near Antwerp or will be very soon. They are there to prepare the movement of large quantities of 'stuff' from Germany to the Persian Gulf.
When asked to have the local police keep out an eye, the mayor of the place where the troops are stationed refused! Not only that, but he did it on national television on friday, live! He said the police is not to be involved in military affairs. His party (SP.A), by the way, is opposed to any Belgian involvement in a new war in the Gulf region.
Anyway, things seem to have been cleared up by now, and the Belgian Army is going to take charge of security. Bet that is going to be a relief to the American troops...
As for my opinion, I also don't think that the police should be involved in providing security for the military. But I also don't think that a mayor should be broadcasting military troop movements of our allies on live television! If he had any objections, he should have just called the minister of defense, or the minister of internal affairs. But then again, he wouldn't have gotten his face on television looking all important just months before the elections that way... disgusting!