MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Andrei Pravov.) There is a saying in the Orient to the effect that if you want to understand why something has happened, then you should think about who stands to gain from it. This formula can obviously be applied to the abduction of foreigners, including Russians, in Iraq. While Iraqi Shiites were in the business of kidnapping the citizens of coalition member countries whose troops were in Iraq, the issue seemed more or less clear-cut: they were demanding the end to the country's occupation and the immediate withdrawal of all foreign soldiers from Iraq. This theory could be quite accurately applied to the captured Japanese citizens whose rough treatment at the hands of their kidnappers was beamed accross the world's televisions. By taking the Japanese, the Shiites were probably trying to exert pressure on Tokyo to pull their troops out of Iraq. However, the situation began to change later. The abductions of first Chinese and then Russian hostages clearly showed that something else was happening. Neither Beijing, nor Moscow supported the US-led invasion of Iraq, and even condemned the operations that had been launched without a UN mandate. The commanders that gave the order for the Chinese and Russian citizens to be taken could hardly have calculated that this would somehow prompt the troop withdrawal process. So a logical question arises: who stands to gain from such actions? The answer is clear: above all, those who want to show the barbaric image of an untamable Islamic militant in Iraq. A militant with whom the US soldiers came to fight, one who wants to defeat all foreigners, and, to be more exact, all non-Muslims in general. Accordingly, in the given situation, the foreign military contingents are the sole guarantor of order in the country. If the Americans and their allies were to leave Iraq, the innocent and guilty would be decapitated without anything even resembling a trial. So, no one in the world could be interested in their withdrawal. The Americans have created such a mess in Iraq that it is unlikely that the country's future can be secured without the introduction of some serious and neutral forces. This is becoming increasingly obvious with every passing day. International peacekeepers from the UN, armed with the relevant mandate, should be the ones to restore order in Iraq, and not those who destroyed it. As far as the untamable nature of the Islamic militant is concerned, then I have reason to doubt this thesis. In spring 1992, immediately after the storming of Kabul, I saw with my own eyes what it meant to be an Islamic militant, both a Shiite and a Sunni. I can openly say that the appearance alone in the capital of a barefooted and longhaired mujaheddin from the mountains, with a Kalashnikov in his hands, hardly inspired any trust. However, 12 years ago, I understood all these seemingly wild and untamable people could be entirely controlled. They obeyed their commanders' orders unfailingly. There could be no surprises: if the commander ordered an attack on the Russians, they were attacked, and if he gave orders to guard the Russian embassy building, it was guarded. Indeed, militants from the Shiite organization, Hezb-e-Wahdad, did exactly that in Kabul; they guarded the Russian embassy and smiled pleasantly at us while doing so. And this happened in Kabul, where many people were itching to deal with the Russians. The situation in Iraq is different. Russian specialists are indisputably respected there, as over time their countrymen have built agricultural facilities, taught locals professions and much more. It is unlikely that all this has been forgotten in one moment. According to some information, there is the possibility that someone might not like the Iraqis' positive feelings towards the Russians, someone who wants to make life difficult for the Russians in Iraq. Therefore, it is entirely possible that someone could have ordered the abduction of the Russian specialists. It was an order for a provocation. The question is who gave it.
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