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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to email@example.com. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. US Swallows Pride To Plead With UN (cafe-uni) 2. UN Returns To Iraq On Secret Mercy Mission (cafe-uni) 3. Naomi Klein: The $500 Billion Fire Sale (cafe-uni) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: US Swallows Pride To Plead With UN Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 14:13:38 -0000 > US swallows pride to plead with UN > Realpolitik: Trevor Royle On why the US has been forced to go cap in hand to > the UN for help in Iraq > 18 January 2004 > http://www.sundayherald.com/39334 > > This time last year the neo-cons in the Bush administration were cock-a-hoop > about their Iraq policy. With or without weapons of mass destruction, the= y > were going to take the US to war against Iraq, topple Saddam Hussein and > restore democracy and freedom . A new world order was in the offing. Pre- > emptive strikes were good, diplomatic mind games were bad. Coalitions of the > willing were acceptable, world community nay-sayers were out of order. That > was the mood which took the Bush team to war . It worked. Iraq collapsed and > Saddam sought sanctuary in his hole in the ground. The problem was nobody > really knew what to do next and within days of the official ceasefire > coalition, soldiers were being killed and the country remained in chaos. > > What a difference a year makes. Tomorrow that policy will be reversed whe= n > the US proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, meets UN secretary-general Kofi Annan > in an attempt to get the world body back onside. > > Acknowledging that the US needs the kind of expertise which only the UN can > bring to post-colonial handovers of power, Bremer will ask for help from an > organisation which colleagues such as deputy defence secretary Paul > Wolfowitz once described as being immaterial. Annan will be minded to accept > the olive branch, provided the US can give assurances about security and > that will be no easy matter . A realist and a good moderator, Annan has > always argued that his people have a role to play in Iraq and he will be > keen to take steps which might pacify Ayatollah Sistani, the Shia leader who > is calling for elections before any handover of power. > > Annan will also want to end the year-long confrontation with Washington, > which has disrupted diplomacy and created a split between those who > supported the war and those who opposed it. Of course, nothing is for > nothing and the pay-off will mean another change in US policy: in return for > helping them out in Iraq in 2004, France, Germany and Russia will be allowed > to bid for contracts to rebuild Iraq. > > The reversal should come as no big surprise. This is election year in the US > and Bush's team are anxious to get out of Iraq by the agreed timetable which > will see a new Iraqi assembly take over on July 1. Before then Iraqis wil= l > be encouraged to participate in regional caucuses for the assembly . At > least that's the theory and that is why the UN is being asked to provide its > experience and expertise to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. > Ahead of that moment the US has started a massive public relations exercise > to encourage Iraqis to support moves towards democracy. > > However, Shias are adamant they want elections before any hand over, arguing > that their demands are only democratic, and Ayatollah Sistani has threatened > civil disobedience if his supporters' wishes are not met. In the aftermat= h > of the military operations the south has been largely free of the kind of > violence which has troubled the Sunni-dominated north but all that could > change whatever is decided. If elections are not held the Shias could carry > out their threat to hold violent demonstrations; if elections are held, the > Shias could sweep to power and confrontation would be inevitable. > > It will be a tough call for the UN to intervene decisively, but that is what > Bremer will be looking for in New York tomorrow. At the back of his mind > will be the nightmare of 1975 when helicopters swooped onto the roof of the > US embassy in Saigon to rescue another team of well-meaning but suddenly > irrelevant US proconsuls. > > > =A92004 newsquest (sunday herald) limited. > > --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com> Subject: UN Returns To Iraq On Secret Mercy Mission Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 14:12:55 -0000 > UN returns to Iraq on secret mercy mission > (Filed: 18/01/2004) > Telegraph > http://tinyurl.com/36s9a > > A team of United Nations officials are covertly working to evacuate hundreds > of children, war victims and others who are trapped in medical limbo, writes > Colin Freeman in Basra > > With A cheerful grin he has no business wearing, Al'a Hashem wriggles along > his sofa, grabs the TV remote control in his mouth, and carefully switche= s > channel with his teeth. After losing both arms and legs in an electrocution, > it is all the 26-year-old law graduate can now do for himself. > > As with Ali Abbas, the 13-year-old Baghdadi boy who lost both arms from > bombing during the war in Iraq, medical treatment overseas could give Mr > Hashem new prosthetic limbs and, in time, a new life. But nine months since > the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, he is among hundreds of Iraqi patients > trapped in medical limbo within the country's dilapidated health system. > > In a secret mercy mission mounted by the United Nations, which claimed it > had pulled all its officials out of Iraq after its headquarters in Baghda= d > were bombed last year, a team from its International Organisation for > Migration agency has interviewed patients inside the country before > searching the world for hospital beds for nearly 400 of the most needy. > > Thirteen-year-old Abbas Salah, for example, was born with four holes in his > heart and needs surgery to fulfil his modest dream of being able to ride = a > bicycle. Tabarak Maheb, six, who was born with a badly deformed nose, needs > plastic surgery to silence the playground teasing that sends her home in > tears every day. > > The IOM team, with Iraqi health officials, assessed nearly 600 patients who > needed treatment that was only available abroad. The agency now acts as a > clearing house for the foreign charities, aid agencies and hospitals that > can offer free treatment, as well as sorting out the necessary immigratio= n > regulations with the host countries. > > However, the process remains complex and last-minute cancellations are > frequent. The international response has been muted because the UN is forced > to maintain a low profile in Iraq and there is formidable bureaucracy > involved in each case. Nearly two thirds of the 389 patients on the list are > still waiting to hear when - or indeed if - they will get treatment. > > Abbas has seen his hopes raised and dashed once already. "Two months ago we > got a call saying, 'Prepare your passports, you will be leaving in three > days' time', and then the trip was cancelled," sobs his mother, Sana Abdu= l > al Razak. "His school told us to stop sending him there this year because > they don't feel that they can look after him any more. All he wants is to be > able to ride a bicycle and play like other boys: now he can't even get an > education." > > Likewise, Tabarak was on a list of children due to travel to Italy for > cosmetic surgery last August. "You could never get the plastic surgery sh= e > needed under Saddam's time, so we were very happy," said her father, Maheb. > "But in the end it was cancelled - we never found out why. Now, every day > she comes home crying from school, saying, 'Daddy, when can I go abroad t= o > get a new nose?' " > > Mark Petzoldt, the IOM's Kuwait-based logistics manager, conceded that it > was a slow operation. "It is everything from finding a foreign doctor > willing to do the treatment free, sorting out immigration for people who > often have no passports, and then getting a charity to escort the people out > of Iraq, where the security situation is difficult. Unfortunately, a lot of > things can go wrong." > > Mr Hashem, from Basra, admits that he is no charitable cause celebre. His > injuries stem not from coalition bombing or Saddam's torture chambers, bu= t > after he tried to erect a television aerial and snagged it on a nearby > electric pylon. His flesh was flayed "like scrambled egg", according to his > doctor, Rafid Al Adhab. > > Yet his brother Walid, 39, who now looks after him, is still hopeful. "We > ask every honest man and woman in the world to look at my brother's case, to > see his suffering. If we had any ability to help him, we would, but we > cannot." > > Some families are becoming impatient. Mustapha Salaam, 10, suffers from a > generalised bleeding condition that normally demands blood transfusions > twice a week. During the war, he and his father, Salaam Khalaf, had to make > the six-mile journey to Basrah's main hospital on foot, braving bombs and > bullets each time. > > "His life is a misery - he cannot play football or run about because if h= e > gets a bruise, he starts bleeding," says Mr Khalaf, 43. "Tony Blair was i= n > Basra just two weeks ago - if he comes here to visit, why doesn't he help > people like my son?" > > Adrian Sutton, a British film maker who acts as the IOM's Middle East > spokesman, stressed the achievements of the programme so far: 147 of the 389 > have already been evacuated, and a major programme to rebuild Iraq's health > infrastructure is also under way. > > He says more help would be welcome, especially from Britain, given its bi= g > military presence in southern Iraq. No British aid agencies are involved > with the IOM. > > "Most have been from the Middle East and Germany, Austria, Italy and > Greece," he says. "We think it is mainly because the charities there have > just been particularly pro-active, rather than any problem at the British > end. But we would greatly appreciate some more UK involvement, and from > elsewhere too." > > =A9 Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. > --__--__-- Message: 3 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Naomi Klein: The $500 Billion Fire Sale Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 20:56:00 -0000 > The $500 billion fire sale > In a shattered postwar Iraq, there are rich pickings to be had - and for US > businesses at least, it promises to be a risk-free bonanza. Naomi Klein > joins those at a trade show jostling for a stake > Saturday January 17, 2004 > The Guardian > http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1125050,00.html > > It's 8.40am, and the Sheraton Hotel ballroom thunders with the sound of > plastic explosives pounding against metal. No, this is not the Sheraton i= n > Baghdad, it's the one in Arlington, Virginia. And it's not a real terrorist > attack, it's a hypothetical one. The screen at the front of the room is > playing an advertisement for "bomb-resistant waste receptacles" - this trash > can is so strong, we're told, it can contain a C4 blast. And its > manufacturer is convinced that, given half a chance, these babies would sell > like hot cakes in Baghdad - at bus stations, army barracks and, yes, upscale > hotels. Available in Hunter Green, Fortuneberry Purple and Windswept Copper. > > This is ReBuilding Iraq 2, a gathering of 400 businesspeople itching to get > a piece of the Iraqi reconstruction action. They're here to meet those > doling out the cash, in particular the $18.6bn in contracts to be awarded in > the next two months to companies from "coalition partner" countries. The > people to meet are from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), its ne= w > programme management office, the Army Corps of Engineers, the US Agency for > International Development, Halliburton, Bechtel and members of Iraq's > interim governing council. All these players are on the conference > programme, and delegates have been promised that they'll get a chance to > corner them at regular "networking breaks". > > There have been dozens of similar trade shows on the business opportunities > created by Iraq's decimation, in hotels from London to Amman. By all > accounts, the early conferences throbbed with the sort of cash-drunk > euphoria not seen since the heady days before the dotcoms crashed. But it > soon becomes apparent that something is not right at ReBuilding Iraq 2. > Sure, the organisers do the requisite gushing about how "nonmilitary > rebuilding costs could near $500bn" and that this is "the largest government > reconstruction effort since the US helped to rebuild Germany and Japan after > the second world war". > > But for the undercaffeinated crowd staring uneasily at exploding garbage > cans, the mood is less gold rush than grim determination. Giddy talk of > "greenfield" market opportunities has been supplanted by sober discussion of > sudden-death insurance; excitement about easy government money has given way > to controversy about foreign firms being shut out of the bidding process; > exuberance about CPA chief Paul Bremer's ultraliberal investment laws has > been tempered by fears that those laws could be overturned by a directly > elected Iraqi government. > > At ReBuilding Iraq 2, held last December, it seems finally to have dawned on > the investment community that Iraq is not only an "exciting emerging > market", it's also a country on the verge of civil war. As Iraqis protest > about layoffs at state agencies and make increasingly vocal demands for > general elections, it's becoming clear that the White House's prewar > conviction that Iraqis would welcome the transformation of their country > into a free-market dream state may have been just as off-target as its > prediction that US soldiers would be greeted with flowers. I mention to one > delegate that fear seems to be dampening the capitalist spirit. "The best > time to invest is when there is still blood on the ground," he assures me= . > > "Will you be going to Iraq?" I ask. > > "Me? No, I couldn't do that to my family." He was still shaken, it seemed= , > by the afternoon's performance by ex-CIAer John MacGaffin, who had harangued > the crowd like a Hollywood drill sergeant. "Soft targets are us!" he > bellowed. "We are right in the bull's-eye ... You must put security at th= e > centre of your operation!" Lucky for us, MacGaffin's own company, AKE Group, > offers complete counterterrorism solutions, from body armour to emergency > evacuations. > > Youssef Sleiman, managing director of Iraq Initiatives for the Harris > Corporation, has a similarly entrepreneurial angle on the violence. Yes, > helicopters are falling, he says, but "for every helicopter that falls there > is going to be replenishment". > > I notice that many delegates are sporting a similar look: army-issue brus= h > cuts paired with dark business suits. The guru of this gang is retired Major > General Robert Dees, freshly hired out of the military to head Microsoft'= s > "defence strategies" division. Dees tells the crowd that rebuilding Iraq has > special meaning for him because, well, he was one of the people who broke > it. "My heart and soul is in this because I was one of the primary planners > of the invasion," he says with pride. Microsoft is helping to develop > "e-government" in Iraq, which Dees admits is a little ahead of the curve, > since there is no g-government in Iraq, not to mention functioning phone > lines. > > No matter. Microsoft is determined to get in on the ground floor. In fact= , > it is so tight with Iraq's governing council that one Microsoft executive= , > Haythum Auda, was the official translator for the council's minister of > labour and social affairs, Sami Azara al-Ma'jun, at the conference. "Ther= e > is no hatred against the coalition forces at all," al-Ma'jun says, via Auda. > "The destructive forces are very minor and these will end shortly ... Fee= l > confident in rebuilding Iraq!" > > The speakers on a panel about managing risks have a very different message, > however: feel afraid about rebuilding Iraq, very afraid. Unlike previous > presenters, their concern is not the obvious physical risks, but the > potential economic ones. These are the insurance brokers, the grim reaper= s > of Iraq's gold rush. > > It turns out that there is a rather significant hitch in Bremer's bold plan > to auction off Iraq while it is still under occupation: the insurance > companies aren't going for it. Until recently, the question of who would > insure multinationals in Iraq has not been pressing. The major > reconstruction contractors such as Bechtel are covered by USAID for > "unusually hazardous risks" encountered in the field. And Halliburton's > pipeline work is covered under a law passed by Bush last May that > indemnifies the entire oil industry from "any attachment, judgment, decree, > lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process". > > But with bidding now starting on Iraq's state-owned firms, and foreign banks > ready to open branches in Baghdad, the insurance issue is suddenly urgent= . > Many of the speakers admit that the economic risks of going into Iraq > without coverage are huge: privatised firms could be renationalised, foreign > ownership rules could be reinstated and contracts signed with the CPA could > be torn up. Normally, multi-nationals protect themselves against this sor= t > of thing by buying "political risk" insurance. Before he got the top job in > Iraq, this was Bremer's business - selling political risk, expropriation and > terrorism insurance at Marsh & McLennan Companies, the largest insurance > brokerage firm in the world. Yet, in Iraq, he has overseen the creation o= f a > business climate so volatile that private insurers, including his old > colleagues at Marsh & McLennan, are simply unwilling to take the risk. > Bremer's Iraq is, by all accounts, uninsurable. > > "The insurance industry has never been up against this kind of exposure > before," R Taylor Hoskins, vice-president of Rutherford International > insurance company, tells the delegates apologetically. Steven Sadler, > managing director and chairman at Marsh Industry Practices, a division of > Bremer's old firm, is even more downbeat: "Don't look to Iraq to find an > insurance solution. Interest is very, very, very limited. There is very > limited capacity and interest in the region." > > It's clear that Bremer knew Iraq wasn't ready to be insured: when he signed > Order 39, opening up much of its economy to 100% foreign ownership, the > insurance industry was specifically excluded. I ask Sadler, a Bremer clon= e > with slicked-back hair and bright red tie, whether he thinks it's strange > that a former Marsh & McLennan executive could have so overlooked the nee= d > for investors to have insurance before they enter a war zone. "Well," he > says, "he's got a lot on his plate." Or maybe he just has better > information. > > Just when the mood at ReBuilding Iraq 2 couldn't sink any lower, up to th= e > podium strides Michael Lempres, vice-president of insurance at the Overseas > Private Investment Corporation (Opic). With a cool confidence absent from > the shellshocked proceedings so far, he announces that investors can relax: > Uncle Sam will protect them. A US government agency, Opic provides loans and > insurance to US companies investing abroad. And while Lempres agrees with > earlier speakers that the risks in Iraq are "extraordinary and unusual", he > also says that "Opic is different. We do not exist primarily to generate > profit." Instead, Opic exists to "support US foreign policy". And since > turning Iraq into a free-trade zone is a top Bush policy goal, Opic will be > there to help out. Earlier that same day, Bush signed legislation providing > "the agency with enhancements to its political risk-insurance programme", > according to an Opic press release. > > Armed with this clear political mandate, Lempres announces that the agenc= y > is now "open for business" in Iraq, and is offering financing and insurance, > including the riskiest insurance of all: political risk. "This is a priority > for us," he says. "We want to do everything we can to encourage US > investment in Iraq." The news, as yet unreported, appears to take even th= e > highest-level delegates by surprise. After his presentation, Lempres is > approached by Julie Martin, a political risk specialist at Marsh & McLennan. > > "Is it true?" she demands. > > Lempres nods. "Our lawyers are ready." > > "I'm stunned," says Martin. "You're ready? No matter who the government is?" > > "We're ready," Lempres replies. "If there's an expro[priation] on January 3, > we're ready. I don't know what we're going to do if someone sinks $1bn into > a pipeline and there's an expro." Lempres doesn't seem too concerned abou= t > these possible "expros", but it's a serious question. According to its > official mandate, Opic works "on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost t= o > taxpayers". But Lempres admits that the political risks in Iraq are > "extraordinary". If a new government expropriates and re-regulates across > the board, Opic might have to compensate dozens of US firms for billions of > dollars in lost investments and revenues, possibly tens of billions. What > happens then? > > At the Microsoft-sponsored cocktail reception in the Galaxy Ballroom that > evening, Dees urges us "to network on behalf of the people of Iraq". I > follow orders and ask Lempres what happens if "the people of Iraq" decide to > seize back their economy from the US firms he has so generously insured. Who > bails out Opic? "In theory," he says, "the US treasury stands behind us." > That means the US taxpayer. Yes, them again: the same people who have > already paid Halliburton, Bechtel et al to make a killing on Iraq's > reconstruction would have to pay them again, this time in compensation fo= r > their losses. While the vast profits being made in Iraq are strictly > private, it turns out that the entire risk is being shouldered by the > public. > > For the non-US firms in the room, Opic's announcement is anything but > reassuring: since only US companies are eligible for its insurance, and the > private insurers are sitting it out, how can they compete? The answer is > that they likely cannot. Some countries may decide to match Opic's Iraq > programme. But, in the short term, not only has the US government barred > companies from non-"coalition partners" from competing for contracts against > US firms, it has made sure that the foreign firms that are allowed to > compete will do so at a serious disadvantage. > > The reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as a vast protectionist racket, a > neo-con New Deal that transfers limitless public funds - in contracts, loans > and insurance - to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign > competition to boot, under the guise of "national security". Ironically, > these firms are being handed this corporate welfare so they can take full > advantage of CPA-imposed laws that systematically strip Iraqi industry of > all its protections, from import tariffs to limits on foreign ownership. > Michael Fleisher, head of private-sector development for the CPA, recentl= y > explained to a group of Iraqi businesspeople why these protections had to be > removed. "Protected businesses never, never become competitive," he said. > Quick, somebody tell Opic and US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz. > > The issue of US double standards comes up again at the conference when a CPA > representative takes the podium. A legal adviser to Bremer, Carole Basri has > a simple message: reconstruction is being sabotaged by Iraqi corruption. "My > fear is that corruption will be the downfall," she says ominously, blamin= g > the problem on "a 35-year gap in knowledge" in Iraq that has made Iraqis > "not aware of current accounting standards and ideas on anti-corruption". > Foreign investors, she adds, must engage in "education, bring people up t= o > world-class standards". It's hard to imagine what world-class standards > she's referring to, or who, exactly, will be doing this educating. > Halliburton, with its accounting scandals back home and its outrageous > overbilling for gasoline in Iraq? The CPA, with its two officers under > investigation for bribe-taking and nonexistent fiscal oversight? > > On the final day of ReBuilding Iraq 2, the front- page headline in our > complimentary copies of the Financial Times (a conference sponsor) is Boeing > Linked To Perle Investment Fund. Perhaps Richard Perle, who supported > Boeing's $18bn refuelling-tanker deal and extracted $20m from Boeing for his > investment fund, can teach Iraq's politicians to stop soliciting > "commissions" in exchange for contracts. > > For the Iraqi expats in the audience, Basri's is a tough lecture to sit > through. "To be honest," says Ed Kubba, a consultant and board member of the > American Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, "I don't know where the line is between > business and corruption." He points to US companies subcontracting huge > taxpayer-funded reconstruction jobs for a fraction of what they are getting > paid, then pocketing the difference. "If you take $10m from the US > government and sub the job out to Iraqi businesses for a quarter-million, is > that business, or is that corruption?" > > These were the sorts of uncomfortable questions faced by George Sigalos, > director of government relations for Halliburton KBR. In the hierarchy of > Iraqi reconstruction, Halliburton is king, and Sigalos sits on stage, heavy > with jewelled ring and gold cufflinks, playing the part. But the serfs ar= e > getting restless, and the room quickly turns into a support group for jilted > would-be subcontractors: "Mr Sigalos, what are we going to have to do to get > some subcontracts?" > > "Mr Sigalos, when are you going to hire some Iraqis in management and > leadership?" > > "I have a question for Mr Sigalos. I'd like to ask what you would suggest > when the army says, 'Go to Halliburton', and there's no response from > Halliburton?" > > Sigalos patiently tells them all to register their firms on Halliburton's > website. When they respond that they have already done so and haven't heard > back, he invites them to "approach me afterward". > > The scene afterwards is part celebrity autograph session, part riot. Sigalos > is swarmed by at least 50 men who elbow each other out of the way to shower > the Halliburton VP with CD-roms, business plans and r=E9sum=E9s. When Sig= alos > spots a badge from Volvo, he looks relieved. "Volvo! I know Volvo. Send m= e > something about what you can achieve in the region." But the small, no-name > players who have paid their $985 entrance fees, here to hawk portable > generators and electrical control panelling, are once again told to > "register with our procurement office". There are fortunes being made in > Iraq, but it seems they are out of reach for all but the chosen few. > > The next session is starting and Sigalos has to run. The serfs wander off > through the displays of shatterproof glass and bomb-resistant trash cans, > caressing Sigalos's business card and looking worried > > @ Naomi Klein, 2004. A version of this article first appeared in the Nation. > End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk