Friday, March 23, 2007

An offer you can't refuse!

Once again the Italians have broken the balls of the Americans and Brits: it appears that in the kidnapping and subsequent release the other day from Afghanistan of the Italian journalist Mastrogiacomo (of the left-leaning national daily, La Repubblica), he had been traded for 5 somewhat dangerous Taleban terrorists, terrorists who once freed may possibly attack NATO forces, which include countries such as the US, Britain, Canada and Germany.

This has apparently sent the Yanks and Brits a wee bit ballistic (including the Germans) as their approach is that “we don’t deal with terrorists” (under former Prime Minister Berlusconi it was believed that more than one Italian hostage was released upon payment of a LOT of Italian euros!)!

History repeats itself as in the case of the terrorist Abu Abbas who had masterminded the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in the 1980s (with the subsequent death of the American tourist Leon Klinghoffer). This shouldn’t be all too surprising how Italy manages to eventually get shafted, by above-all the Americans, in diplomatic affairs. And the Brits aren’t that lenient either with the Italians: in the March 10th edition of The Economist the “Science and Technology” section of the magazine discusses the interesting(?) behaviour of cowbirds and the way that they protect their chicks, a sort of protection racket according to the magazine. In two sections of the article the cowbirds are compared to the Italian mafia (“…is that the host bird’s real chicks are pawns in a protection racket of a sort the Sicilian Mafia would be proud to have invented”…”Even the Mafia never thought of that one”)!

No respect, as usual, for Italy…

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Way to go Canada!

Nice title in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune in the editorial section: “Canada restores rights”.

It talks about the Canadian government’s use of detaining foreign-born terrorists and how the Supreme Court has struck down that law. In particular, the article also talks about the government formally apologizing to Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen of Syrian extraction who was a victim of Bush’s decision to approve open-ended detentions, summary deportations and even torture after September 11. Arar was detained in the U.S. and deported to Syria, where he was held for nearly a year and tortured. Arar will also receive financial compensation from the Canadian government for his ordeal (some 9 million bucks or so according to a recent Economist article).

While this may not be all that great news (it is compared to what Bush has done with detaining terrorists in places such as Guantanamo), it comes at an interesting time: we have in Italy our own version of Arar when the imam Abu Omar was kidnapped by 26 Cia agents in Milan (the boss of that commando, a woman, was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Rome). He was thrown in a van, whisked off to the Aviano airbase near Udine, flown on a secret flight to Ramstein in Germany and then to Egypt where he was tortured. He’s finally been released and wants to now sue the Berlusconi government (he was the Prime Minister at the time of his abduction). He has said that he would like to return to Italy but the Egyptians have vetoed that decision (presumably under pressure from the Bush administration).

Just today the Italian papers have said that the Americans have said “nyet” to the 26 Cia agents appearing in Italy for kidnapping charges. Fat chance too that Omar will see any money. All this isn’t too surprising as Italy always gets shafted in one way or the other by the Americans. Unlike the Canucks and the nice editorial that an (American) paper wrote yesterday on how things should be (properly) done when it comes to detaining terrorists indefinitely (as the IHT itself concludes: “Lawmakers have only to look to the Canadian court for easy-to-follow directions back to the high ground on basic human rights and civil liberties”), the Italians have to always “bend over” to the whims of the Americans.

And naturally today’s Italian papers make NO mention whatsoever of the IHT article on Canada’s initiative…