BAGHDAD – As Japan prepares to send noncombat military personnel to Iraq to help rebuild a war-torn country gripped by creeping insurgency, some Iraqis have warned the Japanese troops could become targets of attacks by insurgents.
“It is risky for the Japanese troops to be stationed here,” Hassan al-Najjar, assistant dean of the Media College in Baghdad University, told Kyodo News in an interview.
Al-Najjar said resistance groups loyal to deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein have vowed to fight any foreign troops in the country.
“They consider all foreign troops — whether Japanese, Poles, Czechs or Spanish — as occupiers,” he said.
Anmar Waheed, a post-graduate student at Media College, shares al-Najjar’s concerns.
“The United States is trying to internationalize the issue to have a pretext for staying in Iraq and easing the pressure on its troops here,” Waheed said.
“Those attacking coalition forces consider all foreign soldiers as targets,” he said. “I do not advise the Japanese government to send troops here because I think these troops might also be targets.”
The security situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate and attacks on coalition forces have increased noticeably since June.
In hit-and-run attacks by Iraqi insurgents, the coalition forces have lost more than 35 soldiers, almost all Americans, since major military operations ended on April 9 following the fall of Baghdad.
Nahida al-Attar, a 35-year-old housewife, was also skeptical of a Japanese military mission to Iraq.
“Why are they bringing more foreign troops into Iraq? The country does not need that,” she said. “The Americans would do better to speed up the establishment of an Iraqi government and a police force that would ensure stability.
“We are not in need of foreign troops, but of Iraqi police who surely would know how to deal with terrorists far better than the foreigners.”
Al-Attar also predicted that Japanese troops would become target of attack by Iraqi insurgents.
“Iraqis like the Japanese and consider them peaceful,” she said. “They are not hostile people. But if they come here as soldiers, that means fighting and that means death. Sure they might be targets, even if they are not heavily armed.”
Under a new law enacted by the Diet on Saturday, Japan plans to send a contingent of noncombat military personnel to Iraq to undertake logistic and reconstruction missions.