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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 Tightens Grip on Iraq's Future (WSJ) (Daniel O'Huiginn) 2. Raiding the Iraqi piggybank (k hanly) --__--__-- Message: 1 Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 14:02:12 +0100 (BST) From: Daniel O'Huiginn <do227@DELETETHIShermes.cam.ac.uk> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: US Tightens Grip on Iraq's Future (WSJ) http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/occupation/2004/0513usgrip= .htm Behind the Scenes, US Tightens Grip on Iraq's Future By Yochi J. Dreazen and Christopher Cooper Wall Street Journal May 13, 2004 Haider al-Abadi runs Iraq's Ministry of Communications, but he no longer calls the shots there. Instead, the authority to license Iraq's television stations, sanction newspapers and regulate cellphone companies was recently transferred to a commission whose members were selected by Washington. The commissioners' five-year terms stretch far beyond the planned 18-month tenure of the interim Iraqi government that will assume sovereignty on June 30. The transfer surprised Mr. Abadi, a British-trained engineer who spent nearly two decades in exile before returning to Iraq last year. He found out the commission had been formally signed into law only when a reporter asked him for comment about it. "No one from the U.S. even found time to call and tell me themselves," he says. As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make. In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. The CPA also established an important new security-adviser position, which will be in charge of training and organizing Iraq's new army and paramilitary forces, and put in place a pair of watchdog institutions that will serve as checks on individual ministries and allow for continued U.S. oversight. Meanwhile, the CPA reiterated that coalition advisers will remain in virtually all remaining ministries after the handover. In many cases, these U.S. and Iraqi proxies will serve multiyear terms and have significant authority to run criminal investigations, award contracts, direct troops and subpoena citizens. The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan. The moves risk exacerbating the two biggest problems bedeviling the U.S. occupation: the reluctance of Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country and the tendency of many Iraqis to blame the country's woes on the U.S. Nechirvan Barzani, who controls the western half of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, warns that the U.S. presence in the country will continue to spark criticism and violence until Iraqis really believe they run their own country. For his part, Mr. Abadi, the communications minister, says that installing a government that can't make important decisions essentially "freezes the country in place." He adds, "If it's a sovereign Iraqi government that can't change laws or make decisions, we haven't gained anything." U.S. officials say their moves are necessary to prevent an unelected interim government from making long-term decisions that the later, elected government would find difficult to undo when it takes office next year. U.S. officials say they are also concerned that the interim government might complicate the transition process by maneuvering to remain in power even after its term comes to an end. The fear is not a hypothetical one: The U.S.-appointed Governing Council embarrassed and angered the U.S. by publicly lobbying to assume sovereignty this summer as Iraq's next rulers. Those concerns are shared by the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. With Shiites making up nearly 60% of Iraq, Mr. Sistani and his followers don't want important decisions made until an elected government -- which he expects Shiites to dominate -- takes power. U.S. officials say many Iraqi political leaders also tacitly approve severely restricting the powers of the new government, even if they don't say so publicly. "The Iraqis know we don't want to be here, and they know they're not ready to take over," says a State Department official with intimate knowledge of the Bush administration's plans for Iraq. "We'd love a welcoming sentiment from the Iraqis, but we'll accept grim resignation." Currently, the Coalition Provisional Authority, which answers to the Pentagon, has total control of the governance of Iraq. It can issue decrees on virtually any topic, which then immediately become law. It will formally cease to exist on June 30. The Governing Council exists largely as an advisory body. Its members can pass laws, but the legislation must be approved by Mr. Bremer. The council has no control over the U.S. military, and in practice has little influence on civil matters. It's unclear what powers the interim government, which will be set up by United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will have. It will not control Iraq's security forces or military. In theory, it will have the ability to enforce and interpret laws on its own, though it will as of now lack the ability to write new ones or make large changes to them. One thing is clear: The government's actions are likely to be heavily influenced by dozens of U.S. and Iraqi appointees at virtually all levels. In March, for instance, Mr. Bremer issued a lengthy edict consolidating control of all Iraqi troops and security forces under the Ministry of Defense and its head, Ali Allawi. But buried in the document is a one-paragraph "emergency" decree ceding "operational control" of all Iraqi forces to senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq. Iraqis will be able to organize the army, make officer appointments, set up new-officer and special-forces courses, and try to develop doctrines and policies to govern the forces. But they can't actually order their forces into, or out of, combat -- that power will rest solely with U.S. commanders. U.S. Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, who participated in the original Iraq invasion, will soon assume responsibility for training the new forces. With American commanders retaining the power to order the forces into combat, Mr. Allawi or his successor will be left with only "administrative control" of the forces. Meanwhile, the media and telecom commission Mr. Bremer created will be able to collect media licensing fees, regulate television and telephone companies, shut down news agencies, extract written apologies from newspapers and seize publishing and broadcast equipment. One of the new watchdog agencies, the Office of the Inspector General, will have appointees inside every Iraqi ministry charged with combating malfeasance and fraud. Appointed to five-year terms, the inspectors will be allowed to subpoena witnesses and documents, perform forensic audits and issue annual reports. The other watchdog, the Board of Supreme Audit, will oversee a battery of other inspectors with wide-ranging authority to review government contracts and investigate any agency that uses public money. Mr. Bremer will appoint the board president and his two deputies. They can't be removed without a two-thirds vote of Iraq's parliament, which isn't slated to come into existence until sometime next year. Few of the positions have been filled so far, but officials at the CPA and the Governing Council say they expect to name the new officials within weeks. The advisers inside the ministries are likely to be almost exclusively American, while the inspectors and members of the various new commissions will all be Iraqi. Individual ministers can dismiss their advisers, but many U.S. officials assume they'll be reluctant to do so for fear of antagonizing the U.S. The nerve center of the U.S. presence in Iraq will be a massive new embassy. CPA officials recently decided that most employees of the new embassy will remain in a former palace used by Saddam Hussein even though the building is seen by many Iraqis as a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty. The embassy needs the space: It will ultimately employ approximately 1,300 Americans, as well as 2,000 or more Iraqis. The current occupation authority employs 1,500 people. The U.S. plans to convert a nearby building into the formal embassy that incoming U.S. ambassador John Negroponte can use for ceremonial functions. In an unusual move, two of Mr. Negroponte's top deputies will also have ambassadorial rank. James Jeffrey will become the deputy chief of mission at the embassy. Blunt and often profane, Mr. Jeffrey, a former Army special forces officer, is currently the ambassador to Albania and has held senior posts in Turkey and Kuwait. Ron Newman, currently the ambassador to Bahrain, also has a military background and is likely to join the embassy in Iraq in a senior position such as defense attach=E9. The U.S. push to continue guiding events in Iraq has been led by the State Department, where officials have grown convinced that placing the country under full Iraqi control now would plunge it deeper into violence and political turmoil, according to people familiar with the matter. U.S. officials had once talked of occupying Iraq for several years, a period more in keeping with the precedent set by the seven-year occupation of Japan after World War II. Last November, however, the White House accelerated the timetable. Despite a wave of bombings the previous month, the administration believed the insurgency was limited to a small number of what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called "dead-enders." The Bush administration also felt Iraq's Sunni minority, which had controlled Iraq under Mr. Hussein, had been neutralized by the disbanding of the army and the firing of tens of thousands of government officials. Iraq's Shiite majority was seemingly unified behind Mr. Sistani, who counseled his followers to cooperate with the coalition. And Iraq's ethnic Kurds, who controlled the country's north, had moderated their long-held demands for full independence. Many of those assumptions haven't yet panned out. Sunnis angry over their forced disenfranchisement have put up a stiff resistance to the U.S. occupation in cities like Fallujah, and Iraq's fledgling security forces have been unable or unwilling to help fight them. Thousands of Shiites have taken up arms against the U.S. under the flag of Muqtada al Sadr, an anti-American cleric once dismissed by Washington as a bit player in Iraq. The Kurds, meanwhile, remain deeply wary of joining up with the rest of the country. With the violence surging in recent weeks, the State Department official with knowledge of the administration's plans says the U.S. "realized that what we put on the table in November wasn't flying." U.S. officials settled on making an array of appointments intended to allow them to influence the interim government. The CPA official charged with setting up the new embassy, John C. Holzman, downplays the possibility of disputes, and says the role of the advisers will change after June 30 because they will no longer be answering to an occupation authority with full authority over Iraq. "There will be a huge difference because we're not going to be issuing orders anymore," he says. "We won't be the sovereign here anymore." But many Iraqis and Americans concede that friction is all but inevitable. If recent events are any indication, the most serious disagreements between the U.S. and the new government could arise over the best strategy for fighting the ongoing insurgency. When fighting flared in Fallujah and Najaf, U.S. commanders ordered newly trained Iraqi units into combat alongside American forces, but the Iraqis proved largely ineffective. Many units deserted entirely, while others joined the insurgents. It's also unclear if Iraqi political leaders will want local units to fight -- especially if the enemy is other Iraqis. The U.S. decision to use heavy weaponry like helicopter gunships against targets in Fallujah caused the resignations of two Iraqi political leaders who had been appointed by the U.S. almost a year earlier, and sparked searing denunciations of the coalition by numerous other Iraqi officials. The Iraqis insisted on a nonviolent solution to the dispute and accused the U.S. of acting with a heavy hand and causing needless civilian casualties. If the U.S. pressed ahead with the offensive anyway, it would risk embarrassing the new government and persuading ordinary Iraqis that the body is powerless. But if it gave in, American commanders could find themselves hamstrung in the fight against insurgents. Bill Spindle contributed to this article ------------ Daniel O'Huiginn do227-at-cam.ac.uk 07745 192426 01223 704075 M13, Queens College ------------ --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "k hanly" <khanly@DELETETHISmb.sympatico.ca> To: "newsclippings" <email@example.com> Subject: Raiding the Iraqi piggybank Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 10:39:22 -0500 Salon.com Raiding Iraq's Piggy Bank If the Bush administration is truly committed to the nation's sovereignty, it should let Iraqis retake control of their own oil revenues. - - - - - - - - - - - - By Andrew Cockburn May 17, 2004 | As the occupation of Iraq dissolves further into bloody chaos, the colonial overseers in Baghdad are keeping their eyes fixed on what is really important: Iraq's money and how to keep it. Whatever apology for a "sovereign" Iraqi government is permitted to take office after June 30 -- and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi admits in private that he "has to do" whatever the Americans tell him to do -- the United States is making sure that the Iraqis do not get their hands on their country's oil revenues. We are talking about big money here: Iraq's oil exports are slated to top $16 billion this year alone. U.N. Security Resolution 1483, rammed through by the United States a year ago, gives total control of the money from oil sales -- currently the only source of revenue in Iraq -- to the occupying power, i.e., the United States. The actual repository for the money is an entity called the Development Fund for Iraq, which in effect functions as a private piggy bank for Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority. The DFI is directed by a Program Review Board of 11 members, just one of whom is Iraqi. In case anyone should be moved to challenge this massive looting exercise in the courts, President Bush followed up the May 2003 resolution with Executive Order 13303, which forbids any legal challenge to the development fund or any actions by the United States affecting Iraq's oil industry. Since then, the Iraqi oil ministry, famously secured by the U.S. military during post-invasion riots and looting, has been kept under the close supervision of a senior U.S. advisor, former ExxonMobil executive Gary Vogler. Now, whatever President Bush or his officials may spout in public about the transfer of power being a "central commitment," there is absolutely no intention in Washington of changing the arrangement concerning oil revenues. Queried on this crucial topic, the CPA has stated that it will continue to control the revenues beyond June 30 "until such time as an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq is properly constituted." Whatever entity is unveiled for June 30, it apparently will not fit these requirements, so the hand-over date is, essentially, meaningless. The development fund is not solely dependent on oil money -- of which it had collected $6.9 billion by March. Under the terms of 1483 the DFI also took over all funds -- $8.1 billion so far -- in the U.N.'s oil-for-food program accounts (Russian and Chinese support for the resolution was bought by agreeing to keep the oil-for-food racket running for a few more months); various caches of Saddam Hussein's frozen assets around the world, amounting to $2.5 billion; and further cash left behind by Saddam inside Iraq, estimated at about $1.3 billion. The money is kept in an account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. In theory, these vast sums were to be spent in an open, transparent manner solely for the benefit of the Iraqi people. But how can we be sure they have been? Along with the development fund, there was meant to be a supervisory group, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board -- made up of officials from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, U.N. and Arab Fund for Development -- to oversee where the money goes. However, according to a trenchant report from the Soros Foundation-funded group Iraq Revenue Watch, which has been keeping an informed eye on the Iraq boondoggle, because of dogged resistance by the occupation authorities, combined with bureaucratic sloth by the IAMB, the board got its first look at the books only this March, 10 months late. Needless to say, there are no Iraqis on the board, though two have recently and reluctantly been designated as observers. Free from independent scrutiny, the DFI piggy bank has disbursed $7.3 billion. For months Bremer's merry men refused to disclose even the most minimal information on where the money was going, and even now the CPA releases only the most generalized breakdown, for example: "Restore Oil Infrastructure -- $80,197,742.82." Assuming that line item is accurate, that would be money paid to Halliburton -- which as it happens is a fine example of how the piggy bank has been used by the administration to get around irksome constitutional restrictions on government spending without congressional approval. Late last year, when the stench of Halliburton contracts for Iraq became so strong that even Congress noticed, the $18.4 billion supplemental appropriations bill for Iraqi reconstruction specifically forbade the award of any contract worth more than $5 million that had not been competitively bid. This might have put a spoke in the Halliburton wheel, except that the CPA simply reached into the DFI to pay Dick Cheney's old company. There has been no protest from Congress over this egregious flouting of its fundamental role as controller of the government's checkbook. No one should be surprised, however, given that there is specific legislation on the books -- passed over fruitless objections from Democrats -- exempting the CPA from any investigation by the Government Accounting Office or any requirement to appoint an inspector general, as mandated for all government agencies in a 1990 law. For most of the past year, Iraqis have complained about ill treatment and torture meted out by the army of occupation. No one paid much attention until the Abu Ghraib photographs became public. Over the same period, in several visits to Iraq, I heard Iraqis complaining with equal vehemence about the generalized corruption of the occupiers -- corruption that extends from the top right down to ordinary soldiers robbing Iraqis of cash and valuables during house searches and vehicle checks, and military and CPA officials at every level demanding bribes and kickbacks. These complaints get the same brushoff treatment as the torture and abuse victims at Abu Ghraib got until what was happening at the prison became widely known. A photo of CPA officials giving the thumbs up and pointing to their wallets might make a difference. In the meantime, don't expect the administration to give Iraqis their money back anytime soon. - - - - - - - - - - - - About the writer Andrew Cockburn is coauthor of "Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein" and has reported from Iraq for years. 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