Wednesday, July 17, 2002

There must be a humanitarian solution! (parody)

Here in Geneva, there was a flurry of diplomatic activity as talks continued this afternoon to calm the increasingly tense situation off the coast of Morocco.

Earlier today, Spanish troops moved onto the small island of Perejil (Parsley in English translation), ejecting Moroccan troops in what Spain has called “an ongoing operation to ensure the security of its citizens on the island.” When it was pointed out that the island’s only inhabitants are goats, a spokesman for the Spanish government replied, “Well yes, but who knows what sort of indignities were inflicted on these creatures by the Moroccan invaders: the human rights of goats must be respected!”

For its part, Morocco condemned Spain’s response calling it “excessive retaliation.” Speaking in Geneva, the Moroccan ambassador to the UN accused the Spanish of a massacre in which hundreds of civilians (goats again) were killed. Calling King Juan Carlos a Nazi, he appealed to fellow Arab countries to rise up against the Spanish and drive them into the sea.

In response, Arab leaders demanded an immediate inquiry into Spanish atrocities during an emergency session of the UN Security Council. And in Brussels, the Belgian government raised the possibility of indicting Spanish leader Jose-Marie Aznar for war crimes.

At the UN Human Rights Commission, a vote was taken to condemn Spain for its occupation of the island and for its failure to respect fundamental human rights. The measure passed easily with France, Italy and Britain supporting the statement against Spain, with only Guatemala opposed. In a strange turn of events, Spain voted in favor of condemning itself. After the vote, a somewhat flustered Spanish delegate said, “I didn’t mean to vote in favor of the condemnation. It all happened so quickly. I thought it was just another vote against Israel.”

And at the International Red Cross (ICRC), concerns were raised about the status of Moroccan troops captured by Spain. Speaking at a news conference, a representative of the Red Cross criticized Spanish authorities for refusing ICRC access to the prisoners. While the prisoners were eventually released, the ICRC pointed out that Moroccan troops were provided with a traditional continental breakfast that might have contravened international standards, constituting a form of torture. Spain denied the charges claiming that a continental breakfast was part of the normal package provided to all visitors to the island.

In Europe, sympathy for the plight of Moroccans is running high. When asked her opinion during a radio call-in program, Cherie Blair said that Morocco’s actions were understandable. “In a situation where there’s no hope, people are forced to resort to drastic measures.” And in a show of support, singer George Michael has announced he’ll be releasing a new single showing Tony Blair in bed with a Spanish toreador.

Meanwhile, the Quartet – a group of international representatives consisting of Andorra, Malta, Equatorial Guinea and Barney the Dinosaur – continues to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The group released a joint statement calling for international intervention, saying that only American involvement under the control of the UN working on a multilateral basis with the EU could stop the spiralling violence. But when asked about possible US involvement during his latest press briefing, an exasperated Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, “At this point, we might consider sending in a landing party, evacuating the goats, and blowing the damn rock off the map. Then we’ll get back to dealing with that little terror problem.”

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