[TODAY]Not for the U.S., but for IraqIt is vital to understand some things about the Samarra-Tikrit Highway, the site north of Baghdad where two Korean civilians were killed in an ambush, before we make a decision on dispatching additional troops to Iraq.
Tikrit is the home region of Saddam Hussein. Samarra and Tikrit are located within the Sunni Triangle, which enjoyed special favors and attention during Saddam Hussein’s long dictatorship. Last weekend, two Japanese diplomats were also ambushed and killed on this highway.
In Samarra, there was an unfortunate incident some six months ago when U.S. soldiers accidentally opened fire on the guests at a wedding in the middle of the city. Even the police chief and tribal leaders appointed by the U.S. occupation forces demanded the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Samarra. The United States shut down two of its three camps in the city.
The Sunni Triangle region has become the headquarters for guerrillas, who seem to be supporters of Saddam Hussein, and for the defeated Al Qaeda soldiers who were wandering restlessly after losing their jobs in Afghanistan.
These guerrillas do not distinguish civilians from soldiers as targets.
The UN headquarters in Baghdad functioned as an embassy of peace that was trying to support the Iraqi public despite the lack of cooperation from the United States, and yet it was attacked and lost its chief last summer.
The four employees of Ohm Electric Co. of Seoul were people who were working to provide electricity for Baghdad and make the lives of Iraqis more comfortable. The two Japanese diplomats were also on their way to Tikrit to discuss plans for reconstruction.
This much explanation leads to two clear conclusions. The remaining supporters of Saddam Hussein are acting to instigate insurrection among the Sunni Iraqis who miss the days of Saddam, carrying on a resistance movement.
What the Iraqi guerrillas want is for this chaos to continue. They hope that if chaos continues, public resentment against U.S. troops will rise and more Iraqis will join the Saddam sympathizers. On the surface, their enemy seems to be the United States, but the real enemy they are fighting is the stabilization and peaceable restoration of Iraq.
That is why the guerrillas have become even more nervous and desperate with the United States announcing its intention to hand over power to the interim government by next July.
Our discussion on whether to send combat or non-combat troops to Iraq should be based on the understanding of such circumstances. It is a shock that Koreans have been killed in Iraq. That should not be a reason to revoke our decision to send troops, however, but a reason to change the nature of our dispatch to include more combat troops.
It would be redundant to explain the bad effects of the demand to scrap the decision to send troops would have on Korea-U.S. relations. We must also consider the effect that decision would have on Iraq. With countries continuing to revoke their decision to dispatch troops and the United States hurrying its withdrawal, what would come next? The worst possibility would be the return of Saddam Hussein or his followers and a bloody vendetta.
Korea is a member of the international society. Are we to accept the return of the Saddam Hussein regime because we find fault with the U.S. attack on Iraq?
The annulment of the decision to send troops would ignore both our moral duty and our interests.
* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Young-hie
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