- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2009

DOUBLE STANDARD?

The Afghan ambassador on Thursday said rescue operations like the one this week that saved a kidnapped British reporter but left his Afghan interpreter dead leave the impression that a foreign life is more valuable than an Afghan life.

Ambassador Said T. Jawad, in an interview with Embassy Row, added that he does not share that impression and said it is too early to tell whether the Afghan aide was killed by Taliban terrorists or accidentally by British commandos who rescued New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell.

“I don’t think a double standard was applied purposely,” he said. “However, we have to be mindful of the perception this kind of operation creates.”

Mr. Jawad was reacting to criticism from the Media Club of Afghanistan, made up of Afghan journalists who work with foreign reporters. The Media Club blamed the British commandos for the death of Sultan Munadi, a reporter and interpreter killed in an early-morning firefight during the rescue Wednesday in a northern Afghan village. They denounced the Taliban for kidnapping the two journalists.



The Afghan reporters also complained that the British troops reclaimed the body of one of their commandos killed in the rescue but left Mr. Munadi’s body behind. Afghan officials retrieved his body Wednesday afternoon, and his family buried him in the capital, Kabul.

Mr. Jawad also criticized British commandos for leaving behind Mr. Munadi’s body.

“The Afghan journalist should have been treated with the same respect as the foreign journalist,” he said.

Mr. Jawad applauded the Media Club, saying, “We are proud of the Afghan journalists who are taking a stand for their fellow colleague.”

The ambassador added that Afghan reporters often face greater risks than their foreign colleagues because the Taliban often knows who they are and retaliates against them.

In 2007, Taliban fighters kidnapped Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo and his Afghan interpreter and driver. They released the journalist in a prisoner exchange but killed the two Afghans.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai and his main opponent in the Aug. 20 election, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, called for an investigation into Mr. Munadi’s death.

IRAQ STANDS FIRM

Iraqis are standing “firm” and rejecting “retribution” in the face of renewed violence, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill told a congressional committee Thursday in Washington, as terrorists killed more people in northern Iraq.

Mr. Hill, ambassador to Iraq since April, also denounced Iran for “meddling in [Iraq’s] internal politics and training violent militias.”

“Iraq has suffered a series of attacks over the past several weeks,” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Particularly horrifying were the attacks on the Iraqi Foreign and Finance ministries on Aug. 19.”

Terrorists killed 100 people and injured 565 others in those attacks in Baghdad.

However, Mr. Hill added, the “Iraqi people have stood firm and rejected retribution and a new cycle of violence such as the one that brought Iraq to the brink in 2006.”

He noted that the United States has “huge interests” in seeing Iraq succeed and cited provincial elections in January and regional elections in July in the Kurdish region as signs of political maturity.

Mr. Hill remains worried about the Iraqi economy, which was “beset by drought, inadequate reforms and falling oil prices earlier this year.”

“The legacy of Baghdad’s adherence to socialist ideology for decades lingers in the minds of many Iraqis who remain suspicious of free trade, foreign investment and other reforms,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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