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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. Iraqi News (Hassan) 2. Iraq's fear of the unknown (Mark Parkinson) 3. Iraq oil (Muhamed Ali) 4. Iraq economy shrank 56% in 1991 (Nicholas Gilby) --__--__-- Message: 1 Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 05:37:34 -0800 (PST) From: Hassan <hasseini@DELETETHISyahoo.com> Subject: Iraqi News To: CASI newsclippings <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://www.redress.btinternet.co.uk/ishawi.htm Rendezvous with a secular ayatollah Ibrahim al-Shawi* describes a revealing meeting with Iraqi Ayatollah Ali Sistani 15 February 2004 Dear All, Yesterday [7 February 2004], I went to visit Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Only six months ago, who would have believed that one day I might go and visit any clergyman of any creed? But there you are, the things one has to do for one's country! The truth of the matter is that I, like everybody else, have been following this gentleman's stand on democracy and elections, and the whole thing had a rather comic tone to it: here was this old religious leader, supposedly living in the dark ages, making a stand for democracy while the US, the champion of democracy, was dragging it's feet. The fact that members of our esteemed Governing Council were not enthusiastic about democracy came as no great shock to me: most of them would become a laughing stock in any democratic elections, and they know it! On the other hand, some circles in the Sunni clergy have started speaking against democracy. Now I found this really sad. Some people have started circulating the idea that Sistani was for democracy because the Shi'is were a majority. Well, I never bought that, for the simple reason that Shi'is are not a single political block. To cut a long story short, I put on two hats I hadn't worn for a long time and am not usually fond of (one of a Sunni and the other of a tribal chief) and joined a small delegation representing Sunni tribes from the Sunni hexagon (I don't see why we should have fewer sides than the Pentagon!) and went to see Sistani. My hats didn't fit, and they had holes in them; I felt like a hypocrite, but I was not to be deterred. It was a small delegation representing the Obaid (yours truly), the Janabeyeen, the Azza and the Kurdish Sorchi tribe. A few other "Shi'i" friends tagged along for the honour of seeing "His Holiness". So much for a rather long introduction! We were an hour and a half late for the appointment (the traffic jams were something I have never seen the like of). Nevertheless, his staff, his son (and, later, he himself) went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We sat on the floor of a sparsely furnished room (very much like the reception room of a not-very-poor peasant), were served tea, had a pleasant chat with his son, a very bright (and obviously very ambitious) courteous young man of around 30. He [Ayatollah Sistani] came in a few minutes later, didn't shake hands and squatted in the way only clergymen know how. We were introduced one by one, his eyes were alive and alert and very much like an earthly man, examining each [one of us] closely! Nazar Al-Khaizaran spoke first, saying that his eminence was talking for all Iraqis when he wanted elections. As Sunnis, we were fully with him on that. Then he responded. He had a heavy (and I mean really heavy) Persian accent which he didn't (and couldn't) hide. He used classical Arabic, but the structure of his sentences was not perfect. He talked a lot, a lot! His response to 30 seconds of courteous pleasantries was a 10 minute monologue! That was when I was shocked! The man was secular! I have never heard a clergyman saying the things that we lot take to represent our secularism. In response to Nazar's statement, he went on and on about Sunnis and Shi'is, saying that these were doctrines differing on how to interpret Islam and they were all decent and well-intentioned. They were definitely no reason for bloody strife. He talked about the ancient pillars of the Sunni doctrine and praised them all in detail and said how he respected them as men of faith and as scholars. The difference between the Shi'ah and Sunnah, he believed, was far less significant than the danger facing the Iraqi nation at present. Well, personally that put him on my right side! Then Omar Sorchi sounded his fear that, through democracy, the Shi'ah would dominate Iraq, and consequently, the Kurds. He replied that he didn't believe there was much danger of that happening. The Shi'ah were not a single political entity. Some are atheists, some are secular; even religious Shi'ah did not all follow the same leader. He said that he firmly believed that the clergy should not interfere with the running of people's lives, with government or with administration. He had forbidden his followers from putting their noses into the state's affairs. He said that clearly and categorically several times, to stress the point. It was my turn and I said something like "As an Iraqi, I am grateful for Your Eminence's honourable stand on democracy and I think that the country is fortunate to have you in this position in this particular instant of history." (Yes I did. And I meant it!) I then asked him why he had requested the UN to examine the possibility of conducting elections. (I was partly moved by some fear I still have that the panel of UN experts may "conclude" that it is too soon or too unstable to have elections at present. Then we really would have a major problem on our hands.) He denied that flatly and said that he never did and that my information was probably based on media reports (which was true). He said he did not feel obliged to accept the UN ruling on elections. He thought the Americans wanted the UN involved because they were having difficulties. He was set on calling for elections as the only possible way for Iraq to regain its sovereignty. Some of the other things he said included (this is a rather loose translation): "The most important thing at this time is unity. Division of the people is treason! Even silence, in these turbulent times, is evil." "Give my regards to your tribes and to the Sunnah clergy and tell them that Sistani 'kisses their hands' and begs them to unite with all Iraqis - Shi'ah, Kurds, Christian, Turkmen. You just unite, and count on me to stand up to the Americans. The worst that could happen is that I die! That doesn't worry me." He mentioned the late De Mello of the UN and said he was "a good man". [UN Special Envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello was killed in an attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 20 August 2003.] He mentioned "the one who was killed in Najaf" and said that he had "talked to him", meaning "advised him". I took that to refer to al-Hakeem. This was the only disguised statement he made in more than an hour of talking. He mentioned the "Arab nation" so many times! He evidently viewed himself as an Arab. Being born Persian did not affect the fact that he was a Sayyed. He made that perfectly clear. He does not believe in "Wilayat al-Faqeeh" as the clergy in Iran do (as you know, this is the cornerstone of Khomeini's doctrine). He repeatedly stressed that religion has to be separated from government! He was extremely humble in his talk, his attire and his mannerisms. He was much younger than I had thought; looked like early seventies but quite agile and healthy-looking. He talked so softly, almost in whispers, that I had to really stress myself to hear what he was saying. (Being the insolent person that I am, at one time during the meeting I said I wasn't hearing him well. There were only three people between us! There was some space on either side of him which people left out of respect, and he invited me to sit next to him, which I did.) He didn't use any of the rhetoric with which clergymen usually wrap everything they say. He was quite plain and direct. I found that really odd for a person in his position! We were late for our appointment. We stayed there for about an hour and a half. Apparently, someone else was waiting to see him. So, his son (who was, apparently, managing the old man's schedule) was obviously beginning to sweat, but was too polite to say anything. We finally took the hint! There you are! I felt that I should share this experience with you and I have tried to reflect as much as I could of it in its true spirit, wil Abbas (non-Iraqis, this is a Shi'i oath). I now believe that the American administration could not have wished for a better person at the head of the Shi'ah clergy hierarchy. Let's wait and see how they handle him! Ibrahim *Dr Ibrahim al-Shawi was educated in the UK and holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. "If you were looking for a leader in Iraq, you do not have to go far, he is the one," is how one of his friends described him. ------------------------------------------------------- http://www.redress.btinternet.co.uk/uavnery73.htm Yes, Minister! Intelligence failure and Iraq's non-existent WMDs Uri Avnery * 16 February 2004 In one of the episodes of the outstanding British TV series "Yes, Minister!" the permanent undersecretary, Sir Humphrey, teaches his minister how to use commissions of inquiry: Take an honorable retired judge, a doddering old fool, and put him in charge of the inquiry, with a sizable honorarium. Help him to arrive himself at the required conclusions. Feed him the appropriate facts and hint at a peerage. From there on, everything will work out as desired. At this moment, three parallel but separate commissions of inquiry are at work: one American, one British and one Israeli. All three are supposed to find out why the intelligence community supplied the government with false information about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Of course, the commissions are not really intended to discover the truth. Their purpose is whitewash. In order to understand what has happened, no honorable judge, Lord, former senator or retired Mossad operative is required. Simple common sense will do. Clearly, he who appoints a commission of inquiry decides in advance what the conclusions will be. When a member of the Establishment is appointed to investigate the Establishment , the conclusion will be that the Establishment has committed no wrong. In Israel, for example, we had the Agranat commission. Shimon Agranat, a respected Supreme Court judge, was appointed chairman of a commission and asked to apportion blame for the fateful failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur [October 1973] war. The inquiry was limited in advance to the first days of the war, so the events leading up to the war (including government decisions) were excluded. The result: the prime minister (Golda Meir) and the minister of defence (Moshe Dayan) came out white as snow. All the blame landed on some military officers. (The conclusions were so scandalous that the general public rose up against them. The commission's report was thrown into the waste basket, Golda and Dayan were forced to resign.) In the UK, Sir Humphrey's method still works. Lately, an honorable etc. etc. judge was charged with the investigation of whether the prime minister had "sexed-up" an intelligence report in order to drag the country into war. The honorable judge concluded, of course, that the prime minister was completely blameless, and that the hostile media (in this case the BBC) were to blame for everything. In Britain, unlike Israel, when a senior judge makes his decision, everybody stands up and sings "God Save the Queen". A few young people donned judges' wigs and threw white paint at Downing Street buildings, in order to suggest that the Lord judge's report was a whitewash. But the prime minister was not forced to resign. Instead, the chairman of the BBC did. Now three commissions are at work. The Israeli one, which was appointed in secret and works in secret, will finish first. After that, it will be the turn of the British one (which is required to investigate only the intelligence community, after the honorable Lord judge has investigated the political structure). In the end, well after the election in the US, the American commission will publish its report. All three resemble each other: they were appointed by the political leaders, they are forbidden to investigate the political leadership and tasked with inquiring only into the quality of the information supplied by the intelligence agencies to the political leaders. President George W. Bush dragged the United States into war on the basis of the contention that Saddam Hussein had WMD that endangered America. Saddam, he said, would turn over such weapons to al-Qaida terrorists, who would use them to cause mass slaughter in American cities. Prime Minister Tony Blair told his people that Saddam could use WMD against British cities within 45 minutes (Not 40, not 50, but exactly 45). In Israel, the Sharon government distributed gas masks to the population and created panic, saying that Saddam would shower us with missiles carrying chemical warheads. Well, the Americans and British occupied Iraq and no WMD were found. No chemical, no biological, no nuclear. None at all. So, how come all these illustrious intelligence agencies were wrong? What made them feed their political leaders with false information and cause Bush, Blair & Co. to start a war in which a country was devastated and many human beings killed? Common sense would say: Bush & Blair were "deceived" because they wanted to be deceived. Bush and the neo-conservatives who have taken over Washington had decided from the beginning to attack Iraq, mainly in order to control the oil, and the tales of WMD were designed to provide a pretext that would frighten the masses. Did the political leaders explicitly demand that their intelligence organizations supply them with mendacious reports? Perish the thought! The commissions of inquiry will affirm that no such thing happened. And correctly so. The leaders did not ask for this, because there was no need to ask. The American, British and Israeli intelligence chiefs knew perfectly well what was required of them and delivered the goods. They knew on which side their bread was buttered. Did the intelligence people deliberately falsify their information to achieve this? There was no need. The intelligence community collects enormous quantities of information. From this huge pile they are supposed to extract the items that they consider credible. Surprisingly enough, the credible material is always that which the political leaders desire. The decisive function of every intelligence agency is not the collecting of the information, but its evaluation. How do the mosaic stones form a picture? That is a matter of judgement and intuition, both subject to a general "concept". This is a mental pattern in the mind of the intelligence chief. And since the intelligence chiefs are appointed by the political leaders, no wonder that their concepts almost always suit the concepts of the leaders. I predict that all three commissions of inquiry, each in its own country, will come to the conclusion (a) that the political leaders did not ask the intelligence people to falsify their reports and did not exert any pressure on them, (b) that the intelligence people acted honestly and supplied intelligence evaluations according to their best knowledge and abilities, (c) that everybody acted according to the best information available at the time and (d) that there was a lamentable professional failure. Neither of the three commissions will state the obvious: that the intelligence agencies are under the jurisdiction of the president (in the US) or the prime minister (in the UK and Israel), and that these bear the responsibility for their deeds and misdeeds. They appoint the intelligence chiefs and are supposed to supervise them. Therefore, in view of this colossal intelligence failure, all three of them should resign. That will not be said and will not happen. If all the blame is laid at the door of the intelligence people, they should be looked at. All over the world, they are admired. The mystique that envelops them creates an almost religious cult that feeds a large flock of journalists and writers. The intelligence operative pictured in their stories is a superman like Smiley, John Le Carre's hero, a brilliant man endowed with almost superhuman intelligence, a cold-blooded, sophisticated genius who weaves his nets with incredible patience. Unfortunately, such a person does not exist. As one says in English: "military intelligence" is an oxymoron. How do I know? There are some simple tests which every logical person can apply for himself. First test: human quality. All intelligence people are eventually pensioned off, and then they can be viewed from close up, without censorship and the cover of mystery. And what does one see? Among them there are some highly intelligent people. There are also quite a number of complete fools. But most of them are very average, superficial people, with very ordinary, conformist views. We would not rely on such people to give us advice on our investments. It is quite shocking to realize that these people have decided the fate of nations. In Israel this is especially obvious, because retired intelligence people star as political commentators in all our media. It appears that their average IQ is not higher than that of Knesset members. And, since one cannot assume that before that they were geniuses, and only on retirement some mysterious neurological process eliminated their mental superiority, there is no escape from the conclusion that even before, their IQ was average-minus. In an apparatus in which such people dominate, an intelligent person has to assimilate himself. He adapts in order to survive. Second test: results. By now it is banal to mention the classic intelligence failures of World War II. The Russians were surprised by the German attack on their country, the Americans by the Japanese bombardment of Pearl Harbour. American intelligence was surprised by the collapse of the Soviet Union. American and Israeli intelligence were totally surprised by the Khomeini revolution in Iran. Israeli intelligence was surprised by the Egyptian army concentrations in Sinai on the eve of the 1967 "Six-day" war, by the Egyptian-Syrian attack on Yom Kippur in 1973, by the advent of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, by the first and second Intifadas and the Rabin assassination. American intelligence did not even dream about the September 11 attack. The list is long. The American, British and Israeli intelligence agencies did not have the slightest idea about what was happening in Iraq, and whether Saddam had WMD or not. They guessed. And if one guesses, it is best to guess what the government wants to hear. "Does Saddam have weapons of mass destruction?" "Yes, Prime Minister!" * Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer and peace activist. ------------------------------------------------------- http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/38CDF820-17B8-47C3-85C8-ECDF602720CB.htm 'US knew Iraq was WMD free' By Ahmed Janabi Sunday 15 February 2004, 20:45 Makka Time, 17:45 GMT Iraqi nuclear scientist Dr Imad Khadduri has told Aljazeera.net he does not believe any ''errors'' were made regarding WMD intelligence. Dr Khadduri, a former senior Iraqi nuclear scientist who worked for the Iraqi nuclear programme from 1968 to 1998, said there was a deliberate media blackout of evidence proving Iraq did not possess WMD, and that to redress the balance he had written a book in English to have his witness testimony made available to the world. In 1997 Iraq delivered a report to UN weapons inspectors stating that Iraq's civil and military nuclear programme was brought to a halt. When UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998 there was sufficient evidence that Iraq was free from non-conventional weapons, according to Dr Khadduri. "I was one of the people involved in writing a detailed report in 1997 about Iraq's civil and military nuclear programme. "We included in the report every detail needed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that Iraq's nuclear programme was suspended," Khadduri said. He said Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability and its nuclear weapons programme were destroyed in the 1991 Gulf war. "Following the defection of Hussein Kamil, the godfather of Iraq's non-conventional weapons programme, to Jordan in 1995, he made it clear to Ralph Ekeus, head of the UN inspection team UNSCOM and US officials, that stockpiles of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons were destroyed on his orders," Khadduri said. "They never revealed such information, because it did not serve their war agenda." Khadduri said even the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) dismissed evidence that clearly indicated Iraq was free from WMD. "The Iraqi government allowed Iraqi officials and army officials, who were in charge of destroying stockpiles of WMD after the Gulf war in 1991, to give their testimonies to Unmovic, but the UN inspectors simply dismissed their evidence," he said. Dr Khadduri said Iraq was free from WMD, but that Western and Israeli intelligence communities were not prepared to accept Iraq would have actually taken such a step. Intelligence errors Dr Khadduri believes that the US was very particular in who it listened to regardless of whether or not they enjoyed any credibility. "The US administration was keen to promote Khidhr Hamza's allegations, nicknamed as the father of Saddam's bomb by Western media... the truth is he was fired from the nuclear programme in 1987, just months after he was assigned to head an Iraqi team devoted to planning a nuclear bomb. "Hamza retired from the Iraqi Atomic Commission in 1989 and left Iraq for Libya in 1994. He simply knows nothing." Khadduri said he tried to get his voice heard before the war, to correct many misleading claims alleged by the US administration and its Iraqi backers. "I worked in the Iraqi nuclear programme for 30 years until I left Iraq in 1998, and there are many honest Iraqi scientists who lived outside Iraq years before the war. They were not approached; no one listened to them," he said. "It was a deliberate marginalising of reliable sources, of the people involved directly in Iraq's WMD programme." He said Iraqi ex-opposition figures have been silent about information they provided before the war. "Where are those Iraqis who bragged of delivering valuable information about Iraq's WMD? Why don't they just lead the US army in Iraq to the place where the alleged WMD are hidden?" __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Finance: Get your refund fast by filing online. http://taxes.yahoo.com/filing.html --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "Mark Parkinson" <mark44@DELETETHISmyrealbox.com> To: email@example.com Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 18:04:21 -0000 Subject: Iraq's fear of the unknown This is a report seen through the normal BBC 'filter' eg everything was SH's fault, no acknowledgement that Iraq was better off before we bombed it in the first Gulf War, no mention of sanctions. What is worrying is his view that things might be declining. Iraq's fear of the unknown By Stephen Sackur BBC correspondent in Baghdad It is eight months since I was last in Baghdad. Eight months is a long time in this turbulent city. Time enough for my friend Kase to buy a new car, a fine leather jacket, a mobile phone that can do everything but brush his teeth - oh, and a gun, a nine millimetre pistol made in Italy. Iraqis must be helped to overcome the trauma of their recent past Why the gun? Because Kase, a naturally optimistic young man who has used his education and language skills to good effect in the new freewheeling economy of occupied Iraq, is deeply uneasy. Under Saddam, Kase says, there was constant cruelty and fear, but it was controlled, it was disciplined. Now everything is uncertain. No-one knows who is really in charge today, still less who will be running this long-suffering country tomorrow. In Baghdad itself there is a poisonous whiff of gangsterism in the air. One of the translators in the BBC office here spent a recent night in a vain search for a close friend who had simply vanished. He assumes the disappearance is linked to a recent spate of kidnappings, but who is responsible and why? No-one knows. There is an edginess about people that I did not feel so intensely in the first months after the fall of Saddam's tyrannical regime. On two consecutive days this week I saw street confrontations escalate from shouting and wild gesticulation to gunfire in seconds. One involved an altercation at a bus stop; another a misunderstanding at a check point. The bullets were designed to intimidate not to kill. Nonetheless, this is a city living on its nerves. Post-war reality There is some good news here. Food is in plentiful supply, Iraqis now joke about being crushed under the weight of cheap bananas being imported courtesy of Uncle Sam. There are twice as many cars on the road as there were before the war; which may not be good for this city's acrid air - still less for the crumbling roads - but it does at least point to a much improved supply of fuel. Rebuilding is beginning and many fat contracts have been handed out. There is hope here, plenty of it, but there is a new kind of fear too. Under Saddam it was a fear of the known, now it is a fear of the unknown Kase and the lucky few can now use their mobile phones in Baghdad. Goodness, you can even buy a wide screen plasma TV just down the street - but whatever you do, do not forget to buy a generator as well because mains electricity here is still off almost as much as it is on. And that is the post-war reality here. Remaking this broken country is a massive task which will require not just years but decades of sustained effort. I spent a recent afternoon in Sadr city, Saddam City as it used to be called. The sprawling dust coated quarter of Baghdad has long been home to more than a million mostly poor Shia Iraqis. In the heart of the neighbourhood is the Qadisiyah hospital, a place I have come to know well over the years. Last time I visited, I found appalling shortages of even the most basic drugs. Wards were filled way beyond their capacity with cases of typhoid and gastroenteritis. Eight months on? Well, Qadisiyah still feels like a hospital barely able to cope. The failing sewer system, the piles of stinking rubbish on every neighbourhood street means they are still battling with diseases that thrive on dirty water and communal filth; and there is still a desperate shortage of specialist drugs. America's obligation I met one tiny little girl, Fatima, who looked barely four years old. In fact she was nine, but the doctors here have run out of the growth hormone she needs. Fatima's impoverished family were told they would have to travel to Jordan if they wanted to continue her treatment. They might as well have suggested a trip to the moon. The shops are filling up, but some necessities are still in short supply. "Look around you," said Doctor Hussan, my guide around Qadisiyah. "The place has been painted since you were last here, but what else has changed?" Please do not interpret his words or mine here as a tacit acknowledgement that life under Saddam was better than this. Doctor Hussan is a Shia Iraqi who lives with the memory of what that fallen dictator did to his people in 1991 - mass murder on an unimaginable scale. But Iraq has to overcome the trauma of its recent past. The Americans - who chose to occupy this damaged land - have a duty and obligation to lay the foundations for a stable future. Maybe I have been jaundiced by the events of this particular week. Two dreadful suicide bomb attacks on Iraqis who were prepared to work alongside the US-led coalition - and the dark warnings of civil strife, ethnic and religious feuding if the Americans do not hand over power soon, or even if they do. At the end of this, my first week back in Iraq since last May, my confidence in Iraq's future is faltering. Yes there is hope here, plenty of it, but there is a new kind of fear too. Under Saddam it was a fear of the known, now it is a fear of the unknown. Mark Parkinson Bodmin Cornwall --__--__-- Message: 3 Subject: Iraq oil Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 11:48:30 -0000 From: "Muhamed Ali" <Muhamed.Ali@DELETETHISHackney.gov.uk> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Special investigation _____ Iraq oil cash funded MPs' campaigns Businessmen handed on money illicitly siphoned from UN deals to pressure groups run by George Galloway and Tam Dalyell David Leigh and David Pallister Tuesday February 17, 2004 The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk> http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1149785,00.html Special investigation _____ 10 cents a barrel: how Iraqi oil fuelled UK campaigns Secret commissions paid to pro-Saddam middlemen by western oil firms found their way into George Galloway's anti-sanctions drives David Leigh, David Pallister, Brian Whitaker, Owen Bowcott, Rory McCarthy in Baghdad, Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow, Jon Henley in Paris Tuesday February 17, 2004 The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk> http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1149548,00.html Was I wrong about Iraq? Talk about it <http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?50@@.685f0c1a/0> David Aaronovitch Tuesday February 17, 2004 The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk> http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1149663,00.html Was I wrong about Iraq? Not as wrong as many of my Iraqi colleagues, if that is any consolation to non-Iraqi colleagues. Regards, Muhamad --__--__-- Message: 4 Subject: Iraq economy shrank 56% in 1991 Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 13:05:55 -0000 From: "Nicholas Gilby" <Nicholas.Gilby@DELETETHISmori.com> To: <email@example.com> [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Reuters INTERVIEW-Iraq data shows economy shrank 56 pct in 1991 Tuesday February 17, 12:54 pm ET By Khaled Yacoub Oweis BAGHDAD, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Iraq's gross domestic product fell 56 percent in 1991, the year after U.N sanctions were imposed on Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait, according to official figures. Iraq's central bank published official statistics for the first time in 26 years on Tuesday that showed the extent of the economic damage inflicted by Ba'ath party rule and by United Nations sanctions in the 1990s. The figures were shown only to Saddam Hussein and his aides as they revealed the regime's vulnerability. Sanctions remained in force until May of last year. The economy grew 10 percent in 2001 as Iraq started to flout sanctions, exported more oil and goods flowed in from countries like Syria. The central bank is working to publish figures that cover the period after 2001. "This is the first central bank bulletin since time immemorial. The information we produced before was secret," Mudhir Kasim, the bank's chief economist, told Reuters in an interview. "This is the starting point of regular publications of reports on the economy of the new Iraq." Iraq ran deficits during the past decade, that reached 790 billion dinars ($409 million) in 2001. The 2003 post-Saddam budget was balanced, but Iraq's U.S.-led administration projects deficits in the next few years. "The government printed money to finance the public debt and pay salaries. This stopped after the regime fell. The monetary authorities are no longer a tool at the disposal of the government," Kasim said. He said the central bank is planning a treasury bill auction to sell public debt, similar to the auction it set up last year to sell dollars from the country's oil revenues to strengthen the dinar. DINAR RECOVERING The exchange rate fell from 10 dinars to the dollar in 1991 to 3,500 just before Baghdad fell to U.S. forces in April 2003, according to the central bank data. The dinar has been improving since the last year's auction, trading around 1,400 to the dollar on Tuesday. "We are satisfied with the present exchange rate. Reaching the 1,500 dinar to the dollar mark was important psychologically," Kasim said. Inflation soared in the 1990s from the combined effect of U.N. sanctions and the government's printing money. The consumer price index rose from 18 points in 1991 to 5,197 points in 2002. Kasim said publishing the data would make it difficult for future governments to manipulate monetary policy and would help attract investment, especially to a banking sector undermined by sanctions and the former regime. Private bank deposits were 1.24 trillion dinars at the end of 2002 compared with 1.52 trillion dinars in government deposits. Banks' credit to the private sector was 312 billion dinars. Abbas al-Bayati, general manager of the private sector Investment Bank, said the data ushered an era of transparency. "This is part of general liberalisation," Bayati said. "It will reflect positively on the work of the banking sector." Nicholas Gilby Senior Research Executive MORI Social Research Institute Tel: 020 7347 3000 Fax: 020 7347 3803 www.mori.com/sri MORI's Report on 2003, covering politics, public services, the economy, Europe and trust - to request a copy contact Paul Ilett (firstname.lastname@example.org) "The More Things Change" - an examination of long term trends in perspectives of politics and public services - click here http://www.mori.com/pubinfo/rd/sri-change.shtml ============================ Disclaimer This e-mail is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of MORI Limited. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this e-mail in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. 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