[TODAY]Many failures in Iraq policyWe cry tears of deep sadness for the bizarre death of a good young Korean man by terrorists under Al Qaeda, who have obviously given up being human, and sigh at the helplessness of our country’s diplomacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade hopelessly disappointed us three times.
First, it was the vice minister of foreign affairs and trade who told the president at 10 p.m. on the night of June 22 that “there seems to be hope” in the negotiations to free Kim Sun-il. Kim Sun-il had already been murdered by al-Jihad terrorists in such a vicious way that both the skies and the land raged.
Second, Kim Sun-il was kidnapped by the terrorists on the 31st of May, but the Foreign Ministry had absolutely no idea until three weeks after, on June 21. On top of that, when they were questioned by the Baghdad branch of the Associated Press in early June about the videotape of Kim Sun-il’s kidnapping that was delivered to the news agency, they simply brushed off the request, saying they did not know. Their carelessness in the matter is just shocking.
Third, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was too busy listening to the president of the Cana General Trading Co. that they did not even get around to opening a direct channel of negotiations with the terrorists.
Why is it that after all the time since the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq was confirmed they still do not have people behind the scenes in Iraq to inform them of terrorist groups’ genealogy or act on Koreans’ behalf in case of an emergency? They just depend on the Arabic satellite broadcasting station Al Jazeera.
Of course there is no guarantee that knowing about the kidnapping three weeks earlier would have led the negotiations to free Kim Sun-il to success. It seems that the Islamic militants kidnapped Kim Sun-il with the intent to kill him in the first place. However, the difference between failing after three weeks of negotiations by the Foreign Ministry and hearing of his murder after two days of flurry is a huge one. The people depend a lot on the government, and those who live abroad depend on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Islamic militants with allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claim that they murdered a Korean because Korea is sending troops to Iraq. It is hard to directly persuade terrorists who hide behind masks and make one-way statements. Therefore I ask the ministries of foreign affairs, national defense, and culture and tourism: How much effort have these ministries put into letting Iraqis know the purpose of sending our troops to Iraq since the dispatch was decided?
It is true that the Korean-American alliance is definitely one of the reasons for dispatching our troops to Iraq. However, it is just as important as sending the troops to publicize widely among Iraqis that the troops are not there to assist the American operations but to help rebuild Iraq. The fact that Iraqis who were aided by the Koreans troops already working in Iraq appealed to the terrorists to free Kim Sun-il is proof that the mission is important and that it is working well.
The Korea-Middle East Association proposed to make an Arabic Web site promoting Korea at a meeting of the Promotion for the Dispatch of Forces Committee last January. It would introduce the history and culture of Korea and also allow Iraqis to see how Korean soldiers help medically and in rebuilding the country. However, the budget for the first year was estimated to be 370 million won ($320,000), and the budget for every year after that was to be 250 million won, so after passing through many hands of government offices, the Arabic Web site proposal vanished into thin air.
Al Jihad is not an Iraqi terrorist group, but an international terrorist group like Al Qaeda. They are the common enemy of over 90 percent of Iraqis, who long for quick stability and order once again. This is why they are active in Fallujah, where the very few Saddam Hussein followers are barely keeping alive. Therefore active promotion would by all means help Iraqis understand why Koreans have been dispatched to the country.
The international terrorists will launch their final attack before the transfer of sovereignty, which is three days from now. When an interim Iraqi government takes hold, instead of the the American authority, and leads Iraq into the recovery of their stability, the international terrorists will have no ground to hold.
The new troops are going to Iraq under such circumstances. The government, reflecting on the failures it has committed in the past, has to put all its effort into winning the confidence of Arabs, Muslims and Iraqis and make them understand.
The Iraqis who know about international terrorists, the antipathy of Iraqis toward them and who put a priority on the stability of their lives, would welcome aid in rebuilding their country. The National Assemblymen who speak of withdrawing dispatchment of Korean troops should understand that background and bless their journey.
* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Young-hie
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