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[casi-analysis] Iraq faces $310bn debt crisis

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How bad is Iraq's situation? How much is needed to get back to pre-
1991 infrastructure levels? How likely is a reverse of the brain
drain - when loads of Iraqis left a destroyed Iraq suffering under
sanctions? How badly off is the new generation - starved of a proper
education and healthy upbringing? What happens when the highly
educated older generation retire?

Who is costing these things? Most of the US reconstruction budget is
going on their military costs so that won't do enough.

On an anecdotal level, I had a chat with an Iraqi who'd been on the
most recent antiwar march. He'd left Iraq in the mid 80's and
returned only in 2002 to find a damaged and suffering country. He
then visited extensively a couple of months ago and said that the
western media have failed to portray the true extent of the damage
caused by the 'liberation'. He said that there is a lot of spin
reflecting the high stakes for the US eg the 'new' Iraq, various
surveys, good news stories, the dangers if the occupiers leave etc.

***** article

Iraq is heading for economic meltdown under the weight of its $310
billion international debt and reparations bill.
Attempts by the International Monetary Fund to reduce it are
insufficient and will block Iraq's long-term reconstruction.
Financial meltdown could come despite increased oil revenues.

The stark warning comes from Jubilee Iraq, an offshoot of the Jubilee
Debt Campaign. It says Iraq owes $135bn in loans dating back to its
war against Iran in the 1980s. The country owes another $175bn in
reparation payments for damage inflicted on neighbouring countries
during its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

'Even with the best deal rich countries are likely to offer Iraq, its
debt will still exceed the country's health and education budget and
will devastate a country that is desperately poor and in danger of
civil war,' said Justin Alexander of Jubilee Iraq. 'Quite apart from
the injustice of requiring Iraqis to pay debts incurred by Saddam it
is economically crazy to expect the repayment of so much because it
will send the country into a tailspin.'

The IMF is due to publish a debt plan for Iraq next month. It is
expected to demand widescale privatisation of Iraq's energy industry
and public services in return for write-offs.

Nick Mathiason, The Observer, March 28

Someone once asked Mahatma Gandhi what he thought of Western

"It would be nice," he replied.

Mark Parkinson

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