Live from Brussels
Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
Another Interesting Thing to Send Back
Earlier I blogged about stuff to send back when you get anti-war spam from well meaning friends. Here's another great quote from a UPI article. It would be great if CNN could get a copy of that video, or better yet Al Jazeera...United Press International: Lucky Break for Jordan
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
(via: Little Green Footballs)
Update: here's Kenneth Joseph's website and here's another biography of him.
Update 2: Check out who congratulated Kenneth Joseph with his 50th anniversary as a missionary (hint: check the signature at the bottom of the page).
20.000 union protesters in Brussels today for the European summit, nominally to protest for social themes: labour regulations, minimal wages etc. But while they were there today, they turned it into an anti-war protest for good measure, and were joined by all kinds of Greens, communists and Moroccan youths.
Stars & Stripes
Funny: in the American and British media I hear that U.S. marines had to take down a U.S. flag they put up after conquering Umm Qasr. In the Belgian media (state television), I only heard that U.S. marines put up a flag, despite objections by British politicians.
Friday, March 21, 2003
For the past two days there have been reports on the Belgian radio and TV about protests in front of the U.S. embassy here in Brussels. Now, I've got nothing against people exercising their free-speech rights. But they shouldn't block a major ring road while doing so (causing massive traffic jams in which I got stuck two evenings in a row) and they should refrain from throwing stones and other objects at people and windows.
I'm just saying...
For the rest of the duration of the war, the 'Blog against Saddam' logo will be displayed on this blog. Copy it if you want Saddam gone too...
Check out this (very short) article at LGF: On a Roll. The text is so short because the picture says everything...
Belgian Media: all Anti-War, all the Time
Two days into the war and I still have to see or hear the first non-American pro-war voice on radio or TV. All you hear are protesters, politicians or 'experts' who are all against the war, because war is bad, you know, against international law, bad for the environment... No viable alternatives to solve the Iraq crisis are presented (unless you call more sanctions, more talks, more inspections... a viable alternative that will actually work this time unlike it did in the past 12 years).
The only pro-war voice we get on TV now and then is George Bush, probably because they can't just ignore it if he makes a speech.
Privately though, I hear more and more friends who are secretly convinced that it is a good thing Saddam is finally being taken care of. But they do doubt American intentions in post-war Iraq. They just don't believe Bush will stick to his promise and democratize Iraq. And the media is supporting them in that conviction: all we see of Bush is his opponents denouncing him.
No wonder people here are against the war...
Day Two of the War
The strategy of embedding reporters into military units seems to be working: for the past two days, all you see on television are either reports from Baghdad or Kuwait city, or reports 'live' from the advancing ground troops. No free-roaming reporters behind the front lines who accidentally could reveal important military secrets.
And I fully expect a few 'surprise' attacks will be made too by units without reporters embedded in them. Especially airborne helicopter assaults... I haven't seen a single reporter in or near a chopper yet. And there are surprisingly little reports from the northern front yet.
I've just heard on the BBC that there are reports of airfields in western Iraq being seized. Stepping stones to Baghdad or the north?
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Meanwhile in Belgium
The Belgian government has already said it regretted the Americans went to war, inspections would have worked and we will help the Iraqi people with humanitarian aid later.
Funny they never talked about humanitarian help when Saddam was still in power indefinitely. No mention anymore about closing our airspace and ports, though. That seems to have been a gaffe of the Foreign and Defense Ministers, hoping to capitalise on this in the coming elections. The Prime Minister apparently put a stop to this mouthing-off, probably because it wasn't him gaining the votes...
Oh yeah, students and union members have called up for
Scuds Fired at American Troops?
The BBC is reporting two Scud missiles were fired at the American troops in Kuwait. They have two sources confirming this. Apparently they were armed with conventional warheads, so the French don't need to worry yet about having to make good on their promise to come to America's rescue if Saddam uses chemical weapons.
...somebody will find a way to blame this on George Bush: Iraq War Protester Dies in Golden Gate Bridge Fall (washingtonpost.com).
Eighteen minutes left until the ultimatum expires... all quiet on the Baghdad front. Strange. I'd expect there to be sporadic anti-aircraft fire, as gun crews test their weapons.
Meanwhile, some guy is being interviewed on CNN who represents international A.N.S.W.E.R. Oh, well, Stalinists defending a dictator, what would you expect?
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Another Great Spam Reply
Oh, sending this audio clip might help too... Iraqi caller to radio talk-show demolishes peace activist. I don't know if the 'Mohammed' guy really is who he says he is, but boy, does he make mincemeat out of his opponent!
Anti-Liberation of Iraq Spam
I expect the number of 'forward-this-petition-now-or-the-world-will-end-because-of-cowboy-Bush' e-mails in my inbox to skyrocket in the coming 48 hours. As a matter of fact, I already got some from a number of well-meaning but ill-informed friends.
Here is what I send back whenever I get mails like that now:
See men shredded, then say you don't back war
(via: Drudge Report)
Monday, March 17, 2003
Antwerp City Council Update
Just before the weekend, the entire city council in Antwerp resigned over allegations of corruption with personal expenses by inappropriately using city Visa-cards. This is pretty big news here, big enough to push Iraq off the top spot in most news reporting.
Only the mayor hasn't resigned yet, but she will do so as soon as a new one has been found. You see, Antwerp city politics is a complicated affair: basically there is only one big opposition party, the Vlaams Blok, which is to the extreme right of the political spectrum. In the last elections, it got a third of the vote in Antwerp, which meant that almost all the other parties had to form a coalition together if they wanted to keep the Blok from power. This coalition is a ragtag bunch of Greens, Christian-Democrats, Socialists and Liberals (economically liberal, socially conservative).
Basically the only thing holding them together is their hatred for the Vlaams Blok, so you can imagine what the coalition discussions were like: bickering over every position in the city council, and a great big ruckus about who got to be mayor.
Now all of this has started all over again: they have to form a new city council, with a new mayor. Cooperation with the Vlaams Blok is stricly forbidden by the national leadership of all parties involved (though some local party members wouldn't object), so it's open season again...
New elections won't take place until 2006 in Antwerp, so the number of seats each party has is basically the same as during the last coalition talks. But this time, the clock is ticking: in May there are national elections planned, so each party wants to come out victorious from these new talks even more.
Better Hope General Franks is Ready!
Belgian radio announced today that if America attacks Iraq without U.N. approval, American forces will no longer be allowed by Foreign Minister Louis Michel to use the port of Antwerp. Shortly after that Andre Flahaut, the Defense Minster, also announced Belgian airspace to be closed to U.S. forces at that moment.
Better hope general Franks has all his equipment in place in the Gulf, cause he ain't gonna move no more through Belgium.
All of this is completely unconnected to the fact that in May we have elections in Belgium...