GUARDING THE TROOPS
United Press International reports a rather novel idea:
Japan, which deployed its first contingent of Ground Self Defense Forces to Samawah in southern Iraq, has taken a novel approach to safeguarding its troops, paying local tribal leaders approximately $94 million to provide bodyguards for its forces. In explaining the policy, a spokesman for the prime minister said: “It is rather cheap if we can buy security for our soldiers with that amount of money. In Iraq, oil money is distributed to those tribes. It is more important for the Japanese government to make one-time payments to the leaders than to pay them a salary. That will help their local economy and benefit Japan’s foreign policy toward new Iraq.” The “protection money” follows last year’s visit to Japan by Iraqi tribal chief Abdul Amir Rikabi. According to a source in the prime minister’s office, Rikabi and Koizumi struck a confidential agreement whereby Rikabi would organize 200 to 300 guards to protect Japan’s SDF soldiers until the main unit arrived in Samawah in exchange for the money. Money talks; just last month Rikabi said, “The dispatch of foreign military troops to Iraq, to be stationed there in an occupation capacity, will not be accepted.”
Protection rackets in a war zone. What will they think of next?