Phones down, borders sealed, troops on the streets: it’s time for democracy
By Richard Beeston in Baghdad
State of alert will match the battle for Fallujah
THE plan sounds more like the preparations for war than the holding of Iraq’s first democratic elections. But such is the dire state of Iraqi security today that the authorities in Baghdad are considering a complete lockdown of the country ahead of polls in two weeks’ time.
According to Iraqi and Western sources, international borders will be sealed, movement between cities tightly controlled, mobile phone networks switched off and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi security forces and foreign troops deployed in a show of force not seen since the height of the war nearly two years ago.
(the times online extract)
IraQna mobile phones network has announced that its services will stop during the elections time, starting from January 4th until February 1st 2005.1
IraQna is owned by the Egypt-based Orascom Telecom, which also owns a U.S. subsidiary, Contrack International of Arlington, Va.
Contrack announced this week it was pulling out of a $325 million transport reconstruction project based on fears for the safety of employees.2
The Orascom chairman has admitted also that the US military are using Jamming equipment in order to prevent bombs being set off by mobile phones
“Some Iraqi newspapers have reported that Iraqna is working with the Americans, shutting the network down when told to prevent guerrillas from using it, reports that have generated anger against the company. Iraqna denies the claims. 3
Mobile phones have been suspected as the denotator in the bombing of the Hebrew University 2002 in Jerusalem and the Madrid train bombing 2004.
In light of this the US military have designed a ‘Wolfpack’ 4
BAE systems won a $22.8 million pound contract for this DARPA Wolfpack in 2003 5 and now it seems this technology is in wide use. This system will jam all mobile phone signals in a local area while allowing military and official communications to continue. 6
Unfortunately there are draw backs to this system, for example, in rare cases the ‘jammer’ may set the bomb off 7
and of course the obvious fact that everyone in the area would be unable to use a mobile phone.
Futhermore the Iraq internet balances precariously at the moment as the owners of .iq domain are Saud Alani and Bayan Elashi – both residents of Texas, US and who are both in US jail accused of funding Palestinian terrorists. 8
While North Korea is reported as leading the way in communication shut down, over the next few weeks upto the election we will see whether the repressive methods of North Korea are imported to Iraq. 9
The Iraq Solidarity Campaign believe that this move is not a good idea and would like people of the world to support the people of Iraq;
“We would also ask that members of the Iraqi Community also write and make phone calls of protest to their nearest re-opened Iraqi Embassy aswel as to their members of the British Parliament. ”
As the events unfold it seems prudent to mention that Kassim Imhawi, a senior official in Iraq’s Communications Ministry, was gunned down on the 16th December 2004. Al-jazeera reports that officials are constantly targeted by anti-occupation and anti-government rebels and now it seems that the pro-occuption and pro-government groups are shutting down Iraq in favour of freedom and democracy.
While the interim government talks with Washington, London, the UN and localised forces, the entire civilian population is gagged and bound until they have voted-in their new leaders.
The times online