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News, 14-21/05/03 (1) NEW IRAQI ORDER * Water Woes: In Iraq, Water and Oil Do Mix * Iraqi courts resume work * British hand over Iraqi port to local authorities * U.S. Treasury official testifies on recovery of Iraqi funds * "New Policy in Iraq to Authorize G.I.'s to Shoot Looters" * Forces Step Up Arrests In Iraq * US warned off barring Baathists * U.S. Adviser Says Iraq May Break With OPEC * Iraqi Women Out of the Picture * British, U.S. troops are accused of torture by Iraqi soldiers, civilians * In Reversal, Plan for Iraq Self-Rule Has Been Put Off * Iraqi Students and Faculty Face Task of Purging Baathists * British official says Iraq handover could take years NEW IRAQI ORDER http://www.counterpunch.org/wells05162003.html * WATER WOES: IN IRAQ, WATER AND OIL DO MIX by Leah C. Wells Counterpunch, 16th May [.....] One of the many claims of barbarism on the part of Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athist regime is displacing hundreds of thousands of Madan, or Marsh Arabs, and draining the legendary swamps where millennia-old culture had been practiced and preserved. In post war Iraq, the United States has assumed the responsibility of restoring these marshlands. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a vocal proponent of bringing water to the arid landscape, addressing the humanitarian needs of the remaining Marsh Arabs, and fixing the ecological crisis which, according to the UNEP, has vanished about 90% of the 20,000 square kilometers of Iraq's marshlands. While addressing the marshland concerns attempts to smooth over twelve-year-old political rifts between the American administrators now governing Iraq and the displaced Madan people, it seems somewhat odd that such a relatively isolated minority of the Iraqi population would receive such attention and consideration so immediately after the war, especially since the Madan are Shi'a, a population that has largely rejected the occupying American forces and has rejoiced at the return of Islamic leaders from exile to Iraq. And yet, American interests are moving forward swiftly. Bechtel, an American firm with a controversial history of water privatization, who won the largest contract from USAID to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, is set to be a major player in the process with a contract worth $680 million. Bechtel's history speaks for itself. Blue Gold, a book exposing global control of water by private corporations, listed Bechtel in the second tier of ten powerful companies who profit from water privatization. According to Corpwatch, two years ago current USAID administrator Andrew Natsios was working for Bechtel as the chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, a massive transportation project in Boston whose cost has inflated exponentially in the billions of dollars. While providing political disclaimers on its website as a result of investigative reporting centering on the close relationship between government and private business, Bechtel certainly will benefit from its positioning as the sole contractor for municipal water and sanitation services as well as irrigation systems in Iraq. Vandana Shiva also implicates Bechtel in attempting to control not only the process of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, but also control over the Tigris and Euphrates rivers themselves. Bechtel has been embroiled in a lawsuit with Bolivia for their plan to privatize the water there, which would drastically rise the cost of clean water for the poorest people in the country. To control the water in the Middle East, Bechtel and its fiscal sponsors, the United States government, would have to pursue both Syria and Turkey, either militarily or diplomatically. Syria has already felt pressure from the United States over issues of harboring Iraqi exiles on the U.S.'s "most wanted" list, as well as over issues of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. It is not stretch of the imagination that a company like Bechtel with a history of privatization would have its sights set on water in the Middle East, starting with their lucrative deal in Iraq. However, the United States is not positioned to enter a new phase of global geopolitics where water, a limited vital resource that every human needs, is the hottest commodity and where American corporations like Bechtel have not already capitalized on the opportunity to obtain exclusive vending rights. Devoting attention to restoring the marshes clearly serves U.S. businesses and corporations who have control over which areas of the marshes get restored, and which ones get tapped for their rich oil resources. Control of the marshlands by the U.S.-led interim government and by the American corporations who have won reconstruction contracts is crucial in deciding where new oil speculation will take place. If only a percentage 25% according to experts on a Brookings Institution panel on marshland reconstruction can be restored, then it would behoove those working on issues of oil and water not to rehydrate areas where such oil speculation will likely take place. Water is vital to the production of oil as well; one barrel of water is required to produce one barrel of oil. Bechtel and Halliburton, who received a U.S. Army contract to rebuild the damaged oil industry which will likely reach $600 million, are the two most strategically positioned corporations to control both the water and oil industries in Iraq. Yet this ruse of generous reconstruction and concern seems both an unlikely and peculiar response after a less-than-philanthropic U.S.-led invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. Supporters and opponents of the war alike could hardly miss its transparency. Whether the reasoning was because of oil, liberating the Iraqi people, ferreting out weapons of mass destruction or exerting regional influence, few pretenses were made to distance the war profiteers from the battlefield in the war's wake. The actions of agencies like USAID, which has pledged more than a billion dollars to facilitate rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq which the U.S. military and policymakers had a large hand in destroying, are far from altruistic. The problem of the Marsh Arabs was not invented overnight at the end of the recent war, but rather has developed in plain view of the whole world via satellite images and documented in-country reports of displacement and abuse. Moreover, the marshlands are not Iraq's sole antiquity. Museums, regions and sites of archaeological importance were destroyed, bombed and looted not only during this last war, but also continuously since the first Gulf War. Will we be paying to rebuild those as well? According to Peter Galbraith, a professor at the Naval War College, three weeks of ransacking post-war Baghdad left nearly every ministry in shambles, including the Irrigation Ministry, except for the Oil Ministry that was guarded by U.S. troops. The people of Iraq are becoming rapidly disenchanted with a prolonged U.S. presence in their country as their former disempowerment under Saddam is translated into present disempowerment under the Americans. According to those working closely with the project to rehydrate the marshlands, in the newly "liberated" Iraq the silenced voices of the oppressed peoples can now be heard and addressed, the stories of destruction can be told and the much-needed healing of humans and terrain can take place. Whether this will actually happen is another story. At the Brookings Institution forum on the marshlands, no native Iraqis were represented, and the larger question arising in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq is what tangible legitimacy is given to voicing the will of the people by putting representative Iraqis in power. Perhaps the issue of water is left unspoken on the global level because the transnational corporations supported by powerful Western governments contribute largely to water pollution and privatization and do not want to draw attention to this fact lest they be forced to clean up their acts and sacrifice profits. Certainly higher standards and levels of accountability would be imposed on industries relying on expendable water resources if the true shortage of water were openly acknowledged. [.....] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003 * IRAQI COURTS RESUME WORK Iraq's judicial system came creaking back to life under the watchful eye of U.S. armed forces on 8 May with criminal proceedings against a small group of defendants in Baghdad, Reuters reported the same day. Meanwhile, Clint Williamson, senior U.S. adviser to Iraq's reemerging Justice Ministry, told reporters that "special arrangements" will be required to try members of the deposed Ba'ath Party leadership, the BBC reported on 8 May. Williamson said that Iraq's 1969 criminal law will be pressed into service for now, albeit without Saddam Hussein-era legal innovations -- such as the beheading of prostitutes and the criminal prosecution of persons deemed to have insulted the president -- that violate international conventions. In a 9 May report, London's "The Times" wrote that the previous day's "experiment in justice mainly produced chaotic scenes." Still, with Ba'ath Party political courts a thing of the past, U.S. officials were optimistic about the future of the country's judiciary. Colonel Marc Warren, a U.S. adviser and lawyer, told "The Times" that the criminal division "could be rehabilitated." (Daniel Kimmage) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003 * BRITISH HAND OVER IRAQI PORT TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES British authorities have handed over control of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr to a 12-member temporary town council, the BBC reported on 15 May. The handover was marked by a short ceremony. Umm Qasr was the first Iraqi town to fall to coalition forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 March 2003). The port, under the control of the British, has been a crucial part of the humanitarian-aid supply line. (Kathleen Ridolfo) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Iraq Report Vol. 6, No. 22, 16 May 2003 * U.S. TREASURY OFFICIAL TESTIFIES ON RECOVERY OF IRAQI FUNDS A senior U.S. official told a hearing of the House of Representatives' Financial Services Subcommittee on 14 May that Lebanese banks have reportedly found and "secured" around $495 million from the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein, Reuters reported the same day. Meanwhile, the "Los Angeles Times" website (http://www.latimes.com/) reported that General Counsel for the U.S. Treasury Department David Aufhauser also testified that "upward of $2.3 billion" has been found in bank accounts. He did not say where the accounts are located. According to the "Los Angeles Times," Aufhauser told the subcommittee on 14 May that it is likely that the nearly $650 million found in sealed cottages and over $100 million found in animal kennels and sheds around Baghdad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 2003) were part of the $1 billion taken by Qusay Hussein from the Iraqi Central Bank on 18 March -- the eve of U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 2003). "Some 236 boxes of cash, either euros or U.S. dollars, were packaged that night by central-bank personnel, but they were very meticulous in the records they kept. They put certificates in the boxes indicating how much money had been placed in them," Aufhauser testified, adding, "Out of 236 boxes, we may well have found 191, constituting $850 million, give or take, and 100 million of euros." (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/14/international/worldspecial/14IRAQ.html?ex= 1053576000&en=c1ede66baec3dd85&ei=5001&partner=YAHOO * "NEW POLICY IN IRAQ TO AUTHORIZE G.I.'S TO SHOOT LOOTERS" by Patrick E. Tyler New York Times, 14th May BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 13: United States military forces in Iraq will have the authority to shoot looters on sight under a tough new security setup that will include hiring more police officers and banning ranking members of the Baath Party from public service, American officials said today. The far more muscular approach to bringing order to postwar Iraq was described by the new American administrator, L. Paul Bremer, at a meeting of senior staff members today, the officials said. On Wednesday, Mr. Bremer is expected to meet with the leaders of Iraqi political groups that are seeking to form an interim government by the end of the month. "He made it very clear that he is now in charge," said an official who attended the meeting today. "I think you are going to see a change in the rules of engagement within a few days to get the situation under control." Asked what this meant, the official replied, "They are going to start shooting a few looters so that the word gets around" that assaults on property, the hijacking of automobiles and violent crimes will be dealt with using deadly force. How Iraqis will be informed of the new rules is not clear. American officials in Iraq have access to United States-financed radio stations, which could broadcast the changes. A tougher approach over all appears to be at the core of Mr. Bremer's mandate from President Bush to save the victory in Iraq from a descent into anarchy, a possibility feared by some Iraqi political leaders if steps are not taken quickly to check violence and lawlessness. But imposing measures that call for the possible killing of young, unemployed or desperate Iraqis for looting appears to carry a certain level of risk because of the volatile sentiments in the streets here. Gas lines snake through neighborhoods, garbage piles up, and the increasing heat frequently provides combustion for short tempers, which are not uncommonly directed at the American presence here. Mr. Bremer did not spell out to senior members of the American and British reconstruction team whether his authority would supersede that of Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the land forces commander in the country. But in tackling the security problem, Mr. Bremer will confront the need for a police force, and the difficulty of building a credible one on the wreckage of Saddam Hussein's hated security establishment. The officials said Mr. Bremer told his staff that his urgent priority was to rebuild a police force, especially in Baghdad, so it could become visible and available "on the streets." Another tough measure that the officials said Mr. Bremer was eager to make public is a decree on de-Baathification, the process of weeding out senior members of Mr. Hussein's political establishment to ensure that the totalitarian principles on which the Baath Party ruled are not perpetuated. American officials said the decree on the Baath Party will prohibit its officials above certain ranks from serving in future governments. Rehabilitation procedures will be created for some high-ranking officials, but they will still be excluded from government service, the officials said. Mr. Bremer appeared before the senior staff of the reconstruction administration with Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who has been in charge of the rebuilding mission under military command. Administration officials say General Garner will leave his post after a few weeks. Today, according to people who attended the closed meeting, Mr. Bremer praised General Garner's performance with words that were greeted with sustained applause. Nonetheless, questions linger about the Bush administration's decision to replace General Garner and abruptly call home one of his top assistants, Barbara K. Bodine. General Garner and Ms. Bodine, one of the most experienced Iraq specialists on his staff, were unable to decide on how to create any new authority in Baghdad, and clashed as personalities, officials said. "It was not a good fit," one commented today. Mr. Bremer made no public appearance today, but he is scheduled to meet with Iraqi leaders on Wednesday, some of whom have misgivings about whether he will change the course that General Garner had set toward quickly forming an interim government of Iraqis and turning over substantial power to it. The wisdom of a speedy turnover was questioned today by some officials, who noted the acute crisis over crime and security in the capital. [.....] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61546-2003May15.html * FORCES STEP UP ARRESTS IN IRAQ by Peter Slevin and William Booth Washington Post, 16th May BAGHDAD, May 15 -- U.S. forces raided a village near Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit before dawn today and rounded up dozens of men, including an Iraqi general who disguised himself as a shepherd, as U.S. military commanders intensified a security crackdown. Soldiers in Baghdad carried out 300 patrols overnight and arrested 92 people, U.S. officials said. The effort is designed to show that troops will be more visible throughout the troubled Iraqi capital, where carjackings, thievery and drive-by attacks on government facilities are impeding reconstruction plans. And in a village near the northern city of Sinjar, 18 suspects and a large quantity of weapons were seized in a raid aimed at militiamen of the outlawed Baath Party, U.S. military officials reported. L. Paul Bremer III, the senior U.S. civilian in Iraq, pledged during his first news conference that saboteurs loyal to the former Hussein government will be hunted, tens of thousands of common criminals released by Hussein will be returned to prison and top Baath Party officials will be prevented from regaining positions of power. In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called security his "number one priority" in Iraq and said 15,000 more troops and hundreds of military police would soon be arriving in Baghdad. [Details, Page A20] Bremer, who arrived this week to oversee rebuilding and the creation of an Iraqi authority that is to gradually assume responsibility for national affairs, said: "We are determined that Baathists and Saddamism will not come back to Iraq. . . . Iraq must remain a free and independent, stable and representative country." Despite widespread violence and insecurity, which have sharply limited economic activity and cast doubt on the ability of U.S. forces to restore order, Bremer painted a promising picture. He said President Bush sent him to Iraq to face a "wonderful challenge." "This is not," he declared, "a country in anarchy." Bremer joined Army Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of ground forces in Iraq, in accusing unidentified elements of the previous government of working to undermine U.S. authority. Jim Lanier, who works with Bremer's team, said later that he believes Hussein loyalists have purposely taken action that "just keeps things in a state of confusion." Lanier, a U.S. Agency for International Development staff member who is overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq's balky electrical grid, identified a section of power line between Baghdad and the southern city of Basra that had been shot apart in the same place six times. Each time, crews have made repairs, only to find the line destroyed again. "That's not accidental," said Lanier, who reported gunfights at a nearby oil refinery and word from U.S. soldiers guarding the Al Quds power plant northwest of Baghdad that they are fired upon regularly. "I think it's far more than just random. There are those who see it as an opportunity to make the coalition look weak, to keep society stirred up." In the town of Baqubah, about an hour's drive northeast of the capital, U.S. military officers said their forces have been attacked several times with rocket-propelled grenades, most recently on Wednesday. No soldiers were wounded and no targets were hit by the unknown assailants, but the attacks illustrate that the U.S. military often has no better success controlling the streets outside Baghdad than those in the capital. It is difficult to determine how much of the trouble facing U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians is the work of Hussein-era security forces and paramilitary groups such as Saddam's Fedayeen, and how much is the work of opportunistic thieves capitalizing on the power vacuum to grab what they can. While McKiernan said both pose significant difficulties, he described "regime elements" as the more dangerous and said they required "most of the coalition's resources." Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III, commander of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, offered a different view when asked to apportion responsibility for the current security problems. "Okay, this is just my opinion," replied Blount, who reports to McKiernan, "but I would say probably about 90 percent is common criminals -- the looters, the car thefts, attempted bank robberies, et cetera, and only about 10 percent is a holdover from the previous regime." U.S. forces are searching for high-level Baath Party leaders, including Hussein and his two sons. The most significant figures appear on a deck of 55 cards distributed to troops. The raid on the village near Tikrit, Ad Dawr, yielded one of those on the cards and three generals, including the security service commander pretending to be a shepherd, the Associated Press reported. The predawn operation to surround the village and sweep its houses was conducted by more than 500 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division of the 1st Brigade, backed by howitzers, AH-64 Apache helicopters and armed boats on the nearby Tigris River. About 260 Iraqis were detained, military officials said, but 230 were released later in the day. "We're going to continue to hunt them until they get so tired of running that they give themselves up or we catch them," Army Maj. Mike Silverman said. "And again we sent the message that we know the shadow regime is out there and it won't be tolerated." Meanwhile, cities outside Baghdad continue to be plagued by nighttime assaults by thieves on factories, shops and homes, as well as by abrupt and mysterious gunfights between Iraqis. The darkness is also broken by the flashes of gunfire aimed at U.S. and British forces. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division shot and wounded a looter in the northern city of Mosul today after reporting that they had been fired upon. In Baqubah, roaming patrols of U.S. soldiers say they routinely come under fire by shoot and-run snipers after the 11 p.m. curfew. The town, former site of a large Iraqi military base, is awash in looted weapons and ammunition. "It happens practically every night. Sometimes it appears to be paramilitary and sometimes it just looks like kids thinking it's cool to shoot at us," said Lt. Col. Randy Grant, of the 4th Infantry's 2nd Battalion. He said troops have killed several Iraqis in the fighting in Baqubah. Over the past two weeks, Grant said, U.S. forces have arrested "well over 100" thieves and militiamen in the city -- most of them from the Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Iranian backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim group. Badr forces have been streaming back into Iraq, where some have attempted to establish a presence in Baqubah and the surrounding province of Diyala on the Iran-Iraq border. The U.S. military raided a building in downtown Baqubah this week and detained at least 30 militia members. They also found stolen vehicles, a large weapons cache and a variety of looted medical supplies, including surgical lights. The U.S. troops left a handful of soldiers to guard the building, but on Wednesday night, a gang of thieves scaled the walls of the compound and stole a minivan, soldiers said. At the Al-Rahma Hospital, the staff was mopping blood in the lobby this afternoon after Hazim Tah, a physician, turned away a wounded man he suspected was a militia fighter. In Baqubah, "we get two or three cases every day," Tah said. They are shot by accident, by revelers' bullets falling from the sky or by design. "Most of the cases," Tah said, "appear to be Iraqis shooting Iraqis." Bremer said U.S. troops in Baghdad had arrested 300 Iraqis in the past 48 hours. Suspected looters are now being held for 20 days before release; previously they were freed after two days. Suspects accused of violent crimes will be held until Iraq's broken-down court system can handle their cases. U.S. forces are building detention centers, working to restart the court system and conducting joint patrols with Iraqi police. Bremer, who assumed control of the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance this week from retired Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, set one extravagant target. Referring to roughly 100,000 felons pardoned by Hussein, Bremer said, "It's time these people were put back in jail, and that is where we will put them." Though Bremer reports to Rumsfeld, he said military commanders will make all deployment decisions, a source of frustration to some of Iraq's American civilian administrators who want more help in assembling and securing Iraqi ministries and key facilities. "I do not, cannot and will not command forces," Bremer said. At the South Baghdad Power Plant, a critical facility in a city where electricity output is only 40 percent to 60 percent of normal by Bremer's account, administrators have pleaded with U.S. forces not to stop guarding the compound. Lanier said one manager told him, "If your soldiers leave, I'm not coming to work." http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=559022003 * US WARNED OFF BARRING BAATHISTS by David Lee The Scotsman, 17th May WESTERN administrators have been warned they are on dangerous ground after revealing plans to ban up to 30,000 diehard Saddam Hussein loyalists from playing any part in a new Iraqi regime. Senior members of the dissolved Baath Party will go through a vetting procedure and are likely to be excluded from taking a role in rebuilding the country. Two senior officials of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance - which is running the country until an Iraqi interim authority takes over - said they recognised the risks of such a process in a society where up to 700,000 people were in the Baath Party. One official said: "We have to recognise that de-Baathification will necessarily entail some inefficiency in the running of government. We understand that is a price we are willing to pay to be sure that we extirpate Baathism from Iraq's society." Last Sunday, the United States's commander of forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, announced the Baath Party was dissolved and called on Iraqis to surrender all party documents and possessions. Professionals representing the elite of Iraq said the US measures could alienate the millions of Iraqis who stayed under Saddam and favour those returning from exile. "The opposition has respect. But they have been out of Iraq for decades and they do not really know the country," said Nabil Mammo, a founder of Iraqi Interest Watch, an independent forum which aims to restore security in Baghdad. Barez Omar Ali, a Kurdish businessman, said: "Saddam gave patronage to those who glorified him. Baathists should feel ashamed of their history, but not summarily dismissed." Full members in the upperranks of the Baath Party who will be subjected to the vetting process - which involves direct interviews, testimonies and the use of public and official records - number between 15,000 and 30,000, one official said. Senior members suspected of criminal conduct will be investigated and put under house arrest. Meanwhile, Saddam's most trusted doctors have said he was in excellent health and has the experience and brains to remain in hiding for years. The doctors said Saddam, born in 1937, expected to live to more than 90 and would not contemplate suicide, even if he was about to be captured. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1289-2003May16.html * U.S. ADVISER SAYS IRAQ MAY BREAK WITH OPEC by Peter S. Goodman Washington Post, 17th May BAGHDAD, May 16 -- The U.S. executive selected by the Pentagon to advise Iraq's Ministry of Oil suggested today that the country might best be served by exporting as much oil as it can and disregarding quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. His comments offered the strongest indication to date that the future Iraqi government may break ranks with the international petroleum cartel. "Historically, Iraq has had, let's say, an irregular participation in OPEC quota systems," said Philip J. Carroll, who formerly headed Royal Dutch Shell in the United States and now chairs a commission advising Iraq's oil ministry. "They have from time to time, because of compelling national interest, elected to opt out of the quota system and pursue their own path. . . . They may elect to do that same thing. To me, it's a very important national question." In an interview held in an anteroom off a cavernous ballroom at Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace, Carroll also signaled that oil contracts signed under the old regime are now potentially void or subject to renegotiation. Hussein's government had an official policy of steering contracts for drilling services, joint production and machinery to companies based in France, Russia and China, whose governments tended to be more supportive of Iraq in the United Nations Security Council. Though Carroll did not single out any potentially imperiled contracts, he asserted that the old system of preferential treatment ended with the demise of Hussein. "There will have to be an evaluation by the ministry of those contracts and a determination of whether they were made in the best interests of the Iraqi people," Carroll said. "Certainly, where contracts are, shall we say, excessively beneficial to one party, and that party is not the Iraqi people, and there is a legal basis for not going forward, then I would expect that the ministry would want to have another look." Carroll stressed that his first priority is resuming enough production of oil, gasoline and cooking fuel to relieve painful domestic shortages. Questions about Iraqi exports and the country's participation in OPEC remain moot for now. Sanctions continue to bar sales of the country's oil abroad, except under a U.N.-governed program that allows exports to pay for food. And analysts say it may be more than a year before there is enough oil produced for export to even reach OPEC quotas. But Carroll also echoed one of the chief goals of the Bush administration -- returning Iraq to its prewar export capacity as soon as possible to fund reconstruction. Iraq's resumption of oil exports under a new government would expose OPEC to considerable uncertainty. Iraq has the world's second-largest proven oil reserves. Flows of Iraqi oil to the world market unconstrained by OPEC quotas could further erode the cartel's already limited ability to set prices and might even trigger a price war, eating into the profits of its member countries. Such an outcome would surely delight the Bush administration as well as buyers of gasoline in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer. With that in mind, commentators -- particularly in Europe -- have contended that the real purpose of Bush's war in Iraq was to put in place a government that would break OPEC. Such an outcome would dismay the world's largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Carroll repeatedly rejected suggestions that he is an instrument of any such policy, saying that he is merely an adviser. "In the final analysis, Iraq's role in OPEC or in any other international organization is something that has to be left to an Iraqi government," he said. Already, officials within the oil ministry -- now supervised by U.S. forces -- are actively considering pulling Iraq out of OPEC and exporting as much crude as possible to maximize revenue once the oil fields have returned to full capacity, according to a senior engineer at the ministry. Asked about those talks, Carroll said: "That is a very good debate for Iraqis to have, and I think they ought to do what they believe to be in their national self-interest." Iraq's oil production historically has comprised 90 percent of its economy while bringing in nearly all of its foreign exchange. That flow of oil and money is needed more than ever, Carroll said. "I do believe the assertion that Iraq is going to need every bit of financial wealth that it can lay its hands on," he said. "The sale of Iraqi crude internationally is crucial to help all the other sectors of the Iraqi economy. Those economic and financial resources are going to be essential if the Iraqi economy is going to get back, if Iraq is going to be able to pay its people and pay its pensions and rebuild." Carroll's advisory board is today in fledgling state, counting only himself as chairman and his assistant, Fadhil Othman, a longtime official at Iraq's oil export agency. But as Carroll fills the board with others from the industry, financial experts and lawyers, he plans to embark on a series of studies to help the ministry set policy. Among the questions the ministry will confront is whether to break up the state oil empire and put some of its pieces into private hands. Hussein used the state apparatus -- centrally controlled by the oil ministry -- to skim profits for his family and funnel wealth to companies tied to his security agencies. Carroll said his team planned to assist the ministry with a study of potential structures. All options, from maintenance of the old system to complete privatization, will be on the table, he said. Carroll was careful to avoid endorsing any particular structure, but he warned of the pitfalls of maintaining a system dominated by the ministry and the state companies. "Highly centralized models are not always as efficient as they should be," he said. "They are prone to corruption. They tend to be more prone to the government seeing them as a cash cow" for funds for other purposes. Still, Carroll also suggested that an overly aggressive privatization would risk putting the oil companies "in the hands of a few people, so that the nation receives little or no benefit, but all of a sudden you get instant billionaires." The one near-certainty: The future expansion of Iraq's oil industry will be driven in part by foreign capital, Carroll said. He confirmed a report in the Los Angeles Times that he continues to own substantial stock in Fluor, which has already announced intentions to bid on contracts to reconstruct Iraq's oil industry. He said he also has large holdings in Shell. Carroll said he had already disclosed these holdings to the Defense Department and announced his intention to recuse himself from the consideration of any decisions from which they could benefit. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1346-2003May16.html * IRAQI WOMEN OUT OF THE PICTURE by Carol Morello Washington Post, 17th May BAGHDAD -- Most of the theatrical gowns designed by Feryal Kilidar over 32 years have gone up in smoke -- burned by looters. Her studio had been located in the government-owned House of Fashion, but that has become the headquarters of an upstart political party called the Higher Council to Liberate Iraq. The party platform is a work in progress, but on this the members are clear: Under the Baath Party government, the House of Fashion was a warren of corrupt and un-Islamic activities. One party activist suggested that Kilidar, who is from a prominent and wealthy family of Shiite clerics, is not really a Muslim because she does not wear a head scarf. "What are we going to do with them?" Kilidar said with a laugh when told what party members had said about her. Her career a shambles and hostile newcomers squatting in her office, Kilidar has not been back to see the charred gowns with their Sumerian motifs or the damaged paintings on which the new occupants tried to write the name of their party. Like most Iraqi women, she has not left her house since the government of Saddam Hussein collapsed April 9, unleashing a crime wave that residents say is unlike anything they have ever seen. "We never used to stay at home," said Kilidar, who lives in a spacious, art-filled house in a field of date palms along the Tigris River. "But I don't want to see Baghdad in this state. And we hear about men with guns stopping cars. I'm too afraid to go out." Kilidar was a privileged citizen under the former government, although she said she joined the Baath Party only three years ago. But while she enjoyed more advantages than most, the collapse of her career, her self-imposed confinement and the fog over her future mirror the uneasy situations facing many Iraqi women. A chaotic city filled with soldiers, thieves and carjackers, Baghdad often appears to be inhabited only by men. Alarmed by the lawlessness and now without jobs, most Iraqi women refuse to step outside their homes. The absence of women in public view is striking in a country where women have for decades held professional jobs and lived with a measure of independence unusual in Arab countries, fostered by the Baath Party philosophy of modern Arab nationalism. Since the war, women have been missing from the markets, where men now shop for food. Nor can women be seen in the long lines that begin forming overnight at gas stations. Most significantly, an interim government and scores of political parties are being formed with little to no input from women. Without television news or readily available newspapers, women have no way of knowing which parties are addressing their concerns. The only permitted women's organization was an arm of the defunct Baath Party, so women have no natural networks to turn to outside of friends, family and co-workers. "I'm a bit surprised myself that Iraqi women are not on the stage," said Tamara Daghistani, one of a handful of women working with the Iraqi National Congress, an exile organization seeking a political role in postwar Iraq. "Iraqi women are famous for being tough and decisive. But they went through three long and terrible wars. Women lost children, they lost husbands, they lost their sense of self-dependence. It takes time for them to readjust. As soon as the country gets running and the electricity comes back, things will fall into place and women will start shopping around for a niche." Even among themselves, Iraqi women are not discussing power-sharing or the potential for an Islamic government that could dictate their movements and their dress. They say their immediate concern is not with getting a seat in parliament, but with getting a reliable supply of electricity to their homes and a police car patrolling their neighborhoods. "The coming of an Islamic government is possible," said Azhar Shehily, a political scientist and constitutional law professor at Baghdad University. "We would harshly refuse anyone telling us what we have to wear. If that happened, I'd be very afraid. But I think the coming government will not be 100 percent Islamic. And frankly, we have more important concerns now -- like security, and having social services, first of all electricity." Still, some worry that women are being sidelined as never before. Thikra Nadr, a novelist in her mid-forties who published a tale about a government that ruined the country through deprivation and war, said she cannot remember a time when women had less visibility or freedom. "The long period of sanctions reduced the role of women in Iraq," she said as a generator roared across the street from her ground-floor apartment in the middle-class Mansour district. "But this period we're living in right now has completely canceled the role of women in society." Iraqi women have attended universities for decades. They were well represented in medicine, engineering, academia and the civil service. The Baathist government made education mandatory for girls; the number of girls attending school at all levels tripled in the 1970s after the Baath takeover. The only legally permitted women's organization in Iraq, however, was the General Federation of Iraqi Women, an arm of the government that allowed no criticism of the government. While Iraq's constitution expressly outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender, in practice the government's edicts restraining individual liberties and the woeful economy caused women to backslide along with the rest of the country. The 12 years of U.N. sanctions made the buying power of the Iraqi dinar dwindle to the point where a typical salary for a civil servant amounted to little more than $5 a month. Many women stopped working because they could not afford transportation and clothes. Others worked two or three jobs. Neda Salih Amin, a gynecologist at Yarmouk Hospital, supplemented her $150 monthly salary with private patients, seen at an outside clinic for the equivalent of $2.50 a visit. "I haven't bought any new clothes for myself for 20 or 25 years," said Amin, 55, as she sat in her office with a broken window and an air conditioner that stopped working long before the war. "We lost the best years of our lives. But I don't like to look back. The past was so miserable, I want to look to the future." [.....] http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134757007_iraqnotes17.html * BRITISH, U.S. TROOPS ARE ACCUSED OF TORTURE BY IRAQI SOLDIERS, CIVILIANS Seattle Times, 17th May Iraqi civilians and soldiers have accused British and U.S. troops of torturing them for information during the war in Iraq, human-rights group Amnesty International said yesterday. Amnesty researcher Said Boumedouha said Amnesty has interviewed about 20 people who said they were tortured ‹ mostly by beatings but at least one by electric shock ‹ after being detained as prisoners of war. Some civilians were held as suspected Iraqi militia fighters. "I think they are telling the truth," Boumedouha said in London. "But to what extent (it happened) and the details of it all ... that we are still trying to establish." Neither the U.S. nor British governments had any comment on the report. NO URL (sent through list) * IN REVERSAL, PLAN FOR IRAQ SELF-RULE HAS BEEN PUT OFF by Patrick E. Tyler New York Times, 17th May BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 16: In an abrupt reversal, the United States and Britain have indefinitely put off their plan to allow Iraqi opposition forces to form a national assembly and an interim government by the end of the month. Instead, top American and British diplomats leading reconstruction efforts here told exile leaders in a meeting tonight that allied officials would remain in charge of Iraq for an indefinite period, said Iraqis who attended the meeting. It was conducted by L. Paul Bremer, the new civilian administrator here. Mr. Bremer, who was accompanied by John Sawers, a British diplomat representing Prime Minister Tony Blair, told the Iraqi political figures that the allies preferred to revert to the concept of creating an "interim authority" not a provisional government so that Iraqis could assist them by creating a constitution for Iraq, revamping the educational system and devising a plan for future democratic elections. "It's quite clear that you cannot transfer all powers onto some interim body, because it will not have the strength or the resources to carry those responsibilities out," The Associated Press quoted Mr. Sawers as saying. "There was agreement that we should aim to have a national conference as soon as we reasonably could do so." One Iraqi who attended the meeting said Iraqi opposition leaders expressed strong disappointment over the reversal. The decision comes at a time when Washington and London have been taking new steps to restore law and order in Iraq, cope with the devastation of civilian institutions and halt the looting and violent crime. These conditions have emboldened former opposition figures to move rapidly into the political vacuum in Iraq, and former members of Saddam Hussein's government and the Baath Party to blame the allies for fomenting collapse, unemployment and suffering among the population. In a step calculated to combat any resurgence of Baath Party influence here, Mr. Bremer today issued an order banning up to 30,000 top-ranking members "from future employment in the public sector." "By this means, the coalition provisional authority will ensure that representative government in Iraq is not threatened by Baathist elements returning to power and that those in positions of authority in the future are acceptable to the people of Iraq," Mr. Bremer said in a statement. Today's decision to extend allied control indefinitely over the governing of Iraq was conveyed to Iraqi political figures as the United States and Britain worked assiduously at the United Nations to win broad international consensus for a resolution to lift economic sanctions on Iraq, in order to begin selling oil to finance reconstruction. In seeking support, the allies are facing demands for a greater United Nations role in shaping postwar Iraq, including a setting of the terms by which an "interim authority" would make the transition to democratically elected government. "They want broader support because they are desperate to get the oil pumping," said an Iraqi who attended the meeting. Mr. Sawers, who is Britain's outgoing ambassador to Egypt, spoke of the need to complete the "tactical" measures of re-establishing legal and social institutions before vesting a government with sovereign control. The Iraqi who attended the meeting added that the decision also appeared to reflect apprehensions in the Bush administration, and more intensely in London, that the former Iraqi opposition forces are still a disparate group and that the Kurdish leaders as well have yet to coalesce into a ruling body. The fear is that a divided or weak interim government will not be able to withstand the intense and at times conflicting ethnic and religious pressures that have tended to divide Iraq instead of cementing it together. "I don't think they trust this group to function as a political leadership," said the Iraqi political figure who attended. "And for us it is very difficult to participate in something that we have no control over. We don't want to be part of the blame committee when something goes wrong." Opposition leaders were "very respectful" to Mr. Bremer and Mr. Sawers, a participant said, "but I think everyone was also pretty forceful about the need to have full sovereignty for the Iraqis." A question they kept posing, he added, was, "Do you want to run this place, or should we?" [......] Attending from the Pentagon was Walter Slocombe, who has been given the assignment to examine the growing problem of how to get under control the military forces that each of the main opposition leaders now controls in Iraq. He is said to be working on a plan to meld them into a national security force, a task that would require Kurdish leaders to give up control over their armies. The opposition leaders were also asked to meet on Tuesday with Lt. Gen. John Abazaid, deputy to Gen. Tommy Franks, the overall American commander in the Middle East and South Asia, to discuss how the opposition groups can contribute to improving security. All of the Iraqi figures were pleased with Mr. Bremer's decision on dismantling the Baath Party. Nonetheless, Mr. Bremer reserved the right to himself to make exceptions to the ban in cases where the knowledge and expertise of a former Baath official might be essential to government functions, where the person's prior membership in the party was deemed nonthreatening and where a renunciation of Baath principles had been secured. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=68&ncid=716&e=16&u=/nyt/2003 0517/ts_nyt/iraqi_students_and_faculty_face_task_of_purging_baathists * IRAQI STUDENTS AND FACULTY FACE TASK OF PURGING BAATHISTS by Susan Sachs Yahoo, from The New York Times, 17th May [.....] At Baghdad University, the nation's largest, professors gathered to vote for a temporary president and deans of the various faculties. Armed American soldiers stood guard at the school gates and the auditorium where the voting took place. A State Department official who will have the final say on all Iraqi university appointments also monitored the meeting. The campus scene reflected the increasingly direct influence that American civilian and military administrators are imposing, on a larger scale, on the politics of postwar Iraq. [.....] At Baghdad University, students hung banners calling for the banning of Baath Party activists from administrative and teaching positions. Inside the professors' meeting, Andrew Erdmann, a State Department official, said that allied forces would make the final decision about who would run the university for the rest of the school term. They will scrutinize the Iraqis' choices to ensure that none were involved in weapons programs or political crimes, he said. "We are not going to have Dr. Germ put forward for university president," he added. But some professors said the purging process could go too far, replacing corrupt deans with incompetent ones whose only qualification was their lack of Baath links. "We're a scientific community here," said Riyad Khazaridji, a professor of engineering who walked out of the elections. "You don't mix politics with science or you end up with a bad combination." The American overseers of Iraq have recently announced that getting rid of senior Baath members has become their priority. L. Paul Bremer III, the newly appointed administrator, has issued an order banning the party's regional and local leaders from government jobs. But last month, an American diplomat working with Mr. Bremer's predecessor, Jay Garner, decided to reinstall a senior Baath Party leader, Muhammad al-Rawi, as university president. Protests erupted and the appointment was canceled. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/21_05_03/art22.asp * BRITISH OFFICIAL SAYS IRAQ HANDOVER COULD TAKE YEARS Lebanon Daily Star, 21st May BAGHDAD: The top British civilian in Baghdad said Tuesday that occupying forces would not hand power to an Iraqi government until elections have been held - in one or maybe two years. John Sawers, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's special envoy, also said the coalition expects a new Iraqi constitution to grant the Kurds of the north autonomy over an area larger than the three rebel-held provinces that the West protected against Saddam Hussein. The pre-war limits of Kurdish autonomy had been "arbitrarily fixed by Saddam" Hussein, and their expansion to reflect the Kurds' demographic weight would have to be addressed in a new constitution, Sawers said. "There is widespread sympathy among Arab Iraqis for the notion that there should be a separate Kurdish entity within Iraq as part of a unified country," he said. "Quite what the boundaries of that would be is something Š to be discussed quite carefully. It is our view that there should be no rigid dividing line." Successive Iraqi governments have balked at giving the Kurds control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk or the regional capital of Mosul. Sawers dashed the hopes of opponents of Saddam Hussein who returned in the expectation of quickly taking the reins, saying he hoped an interim administration could be formed after a national conference in one or two months, but that its role would be to draw up a new constitution, leaving the day-to-day running of Iraq to the US-British occupation. "I haven't talked to any Iraqi who thinks the job can be done better by some ad-hoc committee than by the coalition itself," he said. "We can't just give power to these self appointed individuals and we're not going to. "They as politicians obviously want to build on their leadership roles and attract support in the country, but it will only be possible to hand over power to an Iraqi government when it has been genuinely elected by the Iraqi people." A final UN draft resolution by London and Washington late Monday sought endorsement of their occupation "until an internationally recognized, representative government is established by the people of Iraq and assumes (its) responsibilities." Previous drafts had spoken of a 12-month period to be renewed as necessary. The UN Security Council was to discuss the draft resolution on ending sanctions against Iraq on Tuesday. "The resolution has some problems," said Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, which holds one of seven seats on a political council holding talks with Sawers and the US overseer Paul Bremer. "It's not up to the Americans to delay this government. This is a sovereign issue Š We are allies of the United States but we do not take orders" from them. He said talks over the transitional administration had not been finalised yet, "but we think for practical technical and moral reasons, Iraq should be for the Iraqis." Sawers said the new schedule laid out by the proposal was actually likely to be longer than previously thought. "My instinct is that it will take more than a year and less than two years" to hold elections, he said. "There is no reliable census which will be necessary to establish an electoral register." The seven-strong leadership council of former exiles has been holding talks with Sawers and the top US official here Paul Bremer, hoping to be able to quickly form an interim government to run post-war Iraq. But the British official said the coalition believes that the seven have yet to demonstrate either their popular support or their ability to run a country plagued by lawlessness and a shortage of basic services. "I have sympathy with those people who say that we should not just hand over power to self-appointed people who have come back from abroad. We want to Š leave time for new political parties to form and for new leaders to emerge. "There is tension between what responsibility you give politicians who have not yet demonstrated their level of support and what responsibility you give technocrats who can re-establish effective administration." Sawers said the job of drawing up a new constitution, to be entrusted to the coalition's planned interim administration chosen by a national conference in "late June or early July," should not be underestimated. The question of the future powers and borders of a regional authority for the Kurds of the north, as well as the return of homes and land to those displaced by Saddam Hussein's policy of Arabization, were "immediate and sensitive issues," he said. Under Saddam Hussein, large numbers of Arab settlers were brought in to undermine the community's demographic weight in the two provinces. Large numbers of Kurds were also driven out and, with the last census dating back to 1970, there are no reliable statistics on the population, which includes smaller Turkmen and Christian communities. "There are some difficult restitution issues that will have to be addressed in the wake of Saddam's Arabization policy," said Sawers. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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