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Search words: shannon
Irish Women Hostages in Iraq and Afghanistan
national | anti-war / imperialism | feature Saturday November 13, 2004 14:09 by Ray Hanrahan - Cork Anti-War Campaign hanrahanone at hotmail dot com
Should the anti-war movement in Ireland be making the link between these kidnappings and shannon?
From the newswire: Why the silence/inattention on the mainstream media on the plight of Margaret Hassan and Annette Flanagan? Is Bertie hiding something? The anti-war movement in Ireland should be doing more to link the plight of the women hostages with the shannon issue.
With the death of Yasser Arafat and the destruction of the city of Fallujah in the name of ‘freedom’, the plight of the Irish-born hostages Margaret Hassan and Annette Flanagan has fallen to a kind of ‘afterthought’ item, both in the Irish mainstream media and internationally. Some may claim that ‘negotiations are ongoing’, which is not ‘sexy’ news, unlike the pictures of America’s poor driving around Fallujah in heavily armed and armoured vehicles exterminating their Iraqi counterparts for the benefit of capitalists everywhere. However, I think that we here in Ireland are letting a most important story pass us by without even the most cursory of investigations, and those of us who’ve been involved with the anti-war movement over the last two years or so haven’t made the most elementary connection between the hostages and the continued use of shannon by the US military.
When the kidnappers of Mrs. Hassan and Ms. Flanagan made their demands, the shannon issue was notable for its absence. It was not until last Sunday that I asked the simple question – why?
Perhaps the kidnappers don't have any knowledge of what's going on at shannon and the cowardly minor role Bertie Ahern's regime are playing in the global bully gang's occupation and destruction of the two countries. It only takes a moment to rule this out: the anti-war movement here has done a very good job in publicising the use of shannon by the chief occupying power. Both al-Jazeera and the al-Arabi TV stations have covered protests about shannon and many other media organisations throughout the Arab and wider Muslim world have relayed information on shannon to their viewers/readers/listeners. Furthermore, we have seen in previous kidnappings that these groups are very knowledgeable with regard to media matters and are quite well informed. So, this particular conjecture does not hold water.
What if the kidnappers had made the demand that the Irish Govt. deny landing and overflight facilities to the US military, but that this fact is being kept out of Ireland's and the world's media? I think that this may be an outside possibility: consider this – the negotiations with the hostage takers are being handled either by US/UK civilian or military intelligence, and these boys are old hands at the control of information. Also consider that the world's media are most compliant when the hegemony demands it: blow the cover-up and say bye-bye to those exciting juicy 'embeddings' in Fallujah and elsewhere. Another line could be that to bring this matter up would 'jeopardise the negotiations'. This is patently untrue – movement on the Irish Govt's. part on shannon might be just the thing that saves the women's lives, and perhaps the lives of many more hostages.
If the above scenario turns out to be true, the potential effect on public opinion here could be staggering. Any confirmation that Bertie Ahern conspired with the British and the Americans to hide essential facts from the Irish people about shannon and the connection with the fate of the women hostages will destroy him in the eyes of many, and add to the legions of people that hate this worthless man's guts. Bertie himself is probably scared shitless of what Bush and Blair could do to the Irish economy if he is forced to withdraw facilities at shannon and thus withdraw from the global bully gang. Mr. Ahern is not noted for possessing moral courage, and he'd sooner avoid a hard decision with the use of subterfuge rather than confront it head-on.
I floated this scenario with a few friends and the responses ranged from unlikely but possible to not happening. The person who said the latter advanced this reasoning: as far as the kidnappers are concerned these women are British, they hold British passports, and they will live or die at the cruel whim of the British state – their Irishness is a red herring. My own opinion is that what I've outlined is possible, but not very likely: if Ahern is playing this game, then it's a very dangerous one, and liable to backfire on him, sooner or later. He's a coward, and he'd rather not take the risk.
In any case, the inaction of Ahern and his regime on this matter is inexcusable. He may say that he and his Govt. are doing all that they can to secure the release of Margaret Hassan and Annette Flanagan, but it is patently clear that he is not. The use of shannon by Bush's war machine continues, and each planeload of Marines adds to the risk to security of all Irish people, wherever they are, and adds to our complicity in acts of international illegality and crimes against humanity. Bertie Ahern and Irish Capital (both state and private) are making a killing out of shannon (literally), and Mrs. Hassan, Ms. Flanagan, and in time, the rest of us will pick up the tab.
In the anti-war movement, we've been strangely unheeding of the simple connections that one could make, in fact, one must make in order to link these issues. Were we lulled into inaction by the video-game-style coverage of the wars of occupation that imperialism is waging? Raising the shannon issue in connection with the kidnappings is not treason, and it is not opportunism. It is the moral duty of all those who say that they're opposed to this war, and all wars, wherever they happen, to make this point. Even the SWooPers should pull their heads from out of their arses, take a break from their recruitment drives and their newspaper sales targets, and make plenty of noise about shannon and the kidnappings!
I'm asking everybody in the anti-war movement to make this connection between shannon and the plight of the hostages in public at every available opportunity and as stridently as possible, and to mobilise opinion/activists here to shut down shannon Warport and bring Annette and Margaret home. And don’t be put off by the lie that will be put out that we will be aiding 'terrorism' – is it terrorism to make an attempt to save Irish, Iraqi, and Afghan lives to deny US state terror (the most efficient on our planet) the use of shannon? Is it 'democracy' to bomb hospitals and schools and homes in Fallujah from the air, however unreconstructed some of the insurgents are? The answer in both cases is no – by making public the link, not only will we save lives, but we will also embarrass a vicarious warmonger called Bertie Ahern!