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[casi] News, 2-9/7/03 (2)

News, 2-9/7/03 (2)


*  Lack of Steady Electricity Is Biggest Obstacle to Reconstruction,
Officials Say
*  Iraqi museum exhibit  a public relations stunt    
*  Iraqi Ministry of Oil chief addresses oil developments
*  Electricity Department official killed
*  The Rat in the Grain: Dan Amstutz and the Looting of Iraqi Agriculture
*   U.S.civilian authority announces new Iraq banknotes
*  Bremer says Iraq should consider oil investment
*  Coalition recalls Iraqi interior ministry


*  'Religious Association' says some 'collaborators' may be killed
*  Arab League chief presses for reforms
*  Tehran allegedly makes deal with Muqtada Al-Sadr
*  U.S. Raids Offend Iraqi Sensibilities


by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post, 3rd July

BAGHDAD, July 2 -- Two months after Iraqis fired AK-47s into the night sky
to celebrate the resumption of electrical service, crippling blackouts have
returned to the capital and the rest of the country, impeding the
restoration of public order and economic activity, and creating a new focus
of anger at the U.S. occupation.

In Baghdad, a vast city of high-rise buildings, bustling markets and
scorching summer temperatures, most residents received more than 20 hours of
electricity a day before the war -- enough to run elevators, air
conditioners and other staples of modern life. Today, the capital got about
eight hours of power. On Tuesday, it was even less. And for a few days last
week, there was none.

The persistent blackouts -- U.S. and Iraqi specialists blame sabotage,
looting, war damage and the failure of old equipment -- have transformed a
city that once was regarded as the most advanced in the Arab world to a
place of pre-industrial privation where shopkeepers hawk their wares on the
sidewalk, housewives store food in iceboxes and families sleep outdoors.

The lack of steady electricity is regarded by several U.S. and Iraqi
officials as the most significant obstacle in the reconstruction of this
city and country.

"Power is the central issue," a senior U.S. official here said. "Without it,
you don't have security. You don't have an economy. You don't have trust in
what we're doing. What you do have is more anger, more frustration, more
violence. We're not going to solve anything here until we first find a way
to get more electricity to the people."

On Baghdad's streets, the blackouts are fueling a growing nostalgia for
former president Saddam Hussein among people who only weeks ago cheered the
fall of his government and welcomed the arrival of U.S. troops. "We figured
the Americans, who are a superpower, would at least give us electricity,"
said Mehdi Abdulwahid, an unemployed oil engineer who now helps a friend
sell drinks on a busy sidewalk. "Now we wish we had the old times back."

Hussein, Abdulwahid said with a sigh, "was a ruthless man, but at least we
had the basics of life. How can we care about democracy now when we don't
even have electricity?"

U.S. and Iraqi electricity specialists said the country's power problems
start with a lack of investment in generating capacity and maintenance
during the 35 years that the Baath Party government was in power. After the
U.N. Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq in response to
Hussein's decision to invade Kuwait in 1990, spending on the electrical
infrastructure -- and the flow of much- needed spare parts -- was further

Although Iraq's power plants were designed to produce about 7,800 megawatts
of electricity, they were able to provide only about 4,500 megawatts last
year because of chronic breakdowns and lingering damage from the 1991
Persian Gulf War. "It was a very fragile and unstable system," said Maj.
Gen. Carl A. Strock, the director of operations for the U.S. occupation

Even before this year's war, when demand was about 6,000 megawatts, power
outages were part of daily life. But Hussein's government managed the
shortfall -- and played favorites. Neighborhoods were informed when they
would be subjected to rolling blackouts. Baghdad, Tikrit and other cities
where Hussein enjoyed strong support received a disproportionate share of
power, while towns in Shiite-dominated southern Iraq got far less.

"Saddam understood the importance of electricity," said Jamil Salman, a
electrician in Baghdad. "The Americans don't."

During the war, the lights remained on in Baghdad for the first two weeks
before flickering off across the capital on the night of April 3. U.S.
military officials say they did not target power plants and distribution
networks as they did in 1991, but they acknowledged that accidental damage
from air or artillery strikes toppled several high- voltage transmission
towers, disrupting the national electrical grid and causing the blackout.

To Iraqi electrical officials, that explanation sounds fishy. They contend
transmission towers leading to Baghdad were knocked down in a synchronized
way, suggesting a deliberate effort to disrupt power supplies. "It was a
perfect plan," said a senior official with the national electricity

After the war, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was given
responsibility for restoring the electrical infrastructure, discovered that
doing so was not as simple as fixing a few pylons. Looters had made away
with crucial spare parts from several plants. There was no fuel for
oil-fired units because the country's refineries were not working. The
startup of some facilities required an initial boost of outside power, which
was nonexistent.

Finally, by late April, U.S. and Iraqi engineers were able to start
resuscitating power plants and lights began to dot Baghdad's skyline. By
early last month, the plants were generating about 3,100 megawatts, about
1,300 of which were being sent to the capital. It was about half of the
city's demand -- enough for shops to open, street lights to operate, air
conditioners to hum and life to start returning to normal.

Then the next round of trouble began. Looters ripped down transmission wires
to steal the aluminum and copper. Old power plants, which missed their
annual spring maintenance because of the war, chugged to a halt. Sizzling
summer temperatures caused a drop in the transmission system's efficiency.
People bought large numbers of air conditioners and television sets, placing
new strain on the system.

And most significantly, saboteurs believed to be loyal to Hussein started to
attack the system by felling towers and cutting lines. U.S. officials here
would not detail the number of cases of sabotage to the electrical
infrastructure other than to call them significant.

 In the most recent case, gunmen shot at high-voltage cables about 25 miles
south of the city of Samarra, causing the wires to break and a nearby tower
to keel over, said Peter Gibson, a Corps of Engineers employee who is
serving as the occupation authority's senior adviser to the national
electricity commission.

The attack severed a vital line that connects power plants in northern Iraq
with Baghdad, triggering a chain reaction that destabilized the national
grid and shut down other plants. The incident led to a two-day blackout in
Baghdad last week and a continuing reduction of power coming into the city.

"Our biggest problem is sabotage," Gibson said.

On Monday, the capital had just 400 megawatts to distribute. By Tuesday, the
supply had fallen further, prompting the city's power distribution director
to order that only hospitals, water plants and sewage treatment facilities
be given electricity. Finally, on Tuesday night, technicians completed
repairs to the broken line near Samarra, which helped raise the city's
distribution to 800 megawatts today, Iraqi officials said.

U.S. officials say they are increasing output as fast they can, but they
maintain there is not much they can do in the short run except fine-tune
plants and try to defend installations against looters and saboteurs.
Building new power stations would take months, if not years. Trucking in
dozens of generators, even super-size ones, also could take months and would
not be enough to meet the country's needs, they said.

Ordinary Iraqis, however, find it difficult to believe that the U.S.
military cannot keep the lights on all the time. "They brought thousands of
tanks to kill us," said Bessam Mahmoud, a shopkeeper who sells packaged
biscuits and candy on the sidewalk when the power is out. "Why can't they
bring in generators or people to fix the power plants? If they wanted to,
they could."

In Baghdad, the prevailing view on the street is that there is more than
enough power to go around but the Americans are refusing to share it with
Iraqis until attacks on U.S. troops cease. "They're trying to trade peace
for electricity," said Hamid Mohsen, the owner of a small stationery store.
"They're trying to tell us that if we don't give them peace, they won't give
us power."

Such sentiments have prompted some irate Iraqis to storm into power
substations and distribution centers with handguns and rifles to demand
their lights be turned back on. On Tuesday alone, three power facilities
faced armed attacks, including one where an assailant fired -- and missed --
three times at an electricity commission employee, Iraqi officials said.

At the Farabi dispatch control center in eastern Baghdad, a pistol- toting
man burst into the computer room, grabbed an employee and threatened to kill
him the following day if power was not restored to the man's neighborhood,
said Thaer Kassim, a technical operator at the center. The employee
subsequently announced that he was quitting, Kassim said.

"He said, 'I don't need this kind of job,' " Kassim said.

When his boss came to visit later in the day, Kassim made it clear he was
ready to leave too. "Either you bring in security and protect me or I'll go
home," he said. "I want to do my job, but I need protection."

At the country's central power control center, the director, Adil Hamid
Mehdi, already has left. He has been hiding at home after repeated death
threats, co-workers said.

The Farabi center has only two guards -- Iraqis armed with AK-47s who have
received one day of training from the U.S. military. Kassim said he wants
U.S. troops to stand guard. "Just give me two soldiers," he said. "That's
all we need."

But Strock said it was unlikely the military, which already is stretched
thin battling a growing resistance movement, would dispatch more soldiers to
power facilities. Instead, he said more Iraqi guards would be trained and
maintenance efforts would be intensified to increase power output, which he
hopes will reach 4,000 megawatts nationwide by the end of the month.

Officials here said the situation could get worse before it improves. Dozens
of large factories idled since the end of the war need to be started over
the next few weeks.

The top U.S. civil administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, is studying
proposals to shift resources to factories and likely will make a decision in
the next few weeks, Gibson said. Consumers in Baghdad "could see a decrease
in the number of hours they have power," he said, but in exchange they would
receive a schedule of blackouts.

Iraqi electricity specialists acknowledge there is no quick fix. "I wish
there was something the Americans could do to solve this problem right away,
but that is not possible," said Nafa Abdulsada, Baghdad's power-distribution
director. "We will have to live like this for a while -- and it will be very

by Michael Jansen
Jordan Times, 2nd July
TODAY THERE is a special exhibit at Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities.

Today and today only thousands of artefacts which have not been seen since
1991 will be on display. This event was organised by US marine reserve
Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, the former head of the US military team engaged in
the recovery of items taken by looters following the fall of Baghdad on
April 9.

The collection of articles featured in today's exhibit, the gold jewellery
of an Iraqi monarch known as the "Treasure of Nimrod," has been taken from
the vaults of Iraq's central bank where it has been stored for the past 12
years. Concerned over its safety, museum staff left it in the bank after the
1991 Gulf war. During the March-April US onslaught on Iraq, the bank's
vaults were flooded and it was impossible to recover the hoard until the
water was pumped out.

Today's event is a public relations stunt meant to project the notion that
all is well at the museum and create the illusion that the collection is
intact in spite of the reports of massive looting after US troops took
control of the capital.

But nothing can hide the fact that at least 6,000 artefacts were stolen from
the museum during eight days of pillage. On June 13, the US Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is cooperating with museum staff
in inventorying the collection, told Dr McGuire Gibson of the Oriental
Institute at the University of Chicago that this total had doubled in a week
and was rising.

One of the most valuable pieces, the 5,000 year old "Warka vase" was
returned, but another 32 major exhibits remain missing, including a unique
alabaster head of a woman from same place and period. Also missing are a
300-kilogramme Akkadian copper statue of a youth from 2500 BC and 4,800
cylinder seals. Two ground floor storerooms were thoroughly looted. One
contained the museum's study collection and the other 10 trunks of
uninventoried material from recent digs.

One out of three basement storerooms was breached. This held important
ceramic and ivory objects. According to Gibson, who took part in a UNESCO
mission to Baghdad in May, there are also "thousands of things that are
broken," but not on the list of missing pieces. No full accounting can be
made until the half million items, registered under 170,000 identification
numbers, can be checked against the inventory.

Inflated claims of losses in the immediate aftermath of the looting have
given a false impression of what happened and prompted allegations by
defenders of the US that museum staff deliberately misled world public
opinion about the extent of the pillage. The staff was also charged with
being involved and permitting Iraqi soldiers to use the museum as a bunker
and firing position.

The idea that tens of thousands of articles were stolen took hold because
senior staff did not promptly correct the impression gained by journalists
who entered the museum in the wake of the looting and reported that the
trashed galleries had been stripped bare. The staff, concerned that the
looters could return, did not wish to reveal that most of the artefacts had
been moved to storerooms on the premises or sent to bunkers elsewhere. Staff
feared that the looters could come back. Consequently, some journalists even
reported that 170,000 pieces had been stolen, confusing total inventory
numbers with plundered items.

Staff members had good reason to be angry over what happened at the museum.
Having spent most of the war in the museum with the aim of protecting the
collection, they left on April 8, during a particularly heavy bout of
fighting in the street just outside the gate. They returned to the premises
on the 13th, while looters were carrying away artefacts. All the offices had
been broken into and stripped of equipment and other valuables, most of the
galleries had been wrecked, statuary from the Roman era site of Hatra had
been beheaded or smashed. Glass and broken pottery littered the floors of
three storerooms and artefacts pulled from boxes and shelves were buried in
the mess on the floor. Horrified staff genuinely believed the museum had
suffered massive, comprehensive looting. Shocked and angry, senior spokesmen
declared that thousands of items in the collection had vanished and that
amongst the looters were professionals stealing specific pieces to order for
wealthy foreign collectors. It was fortunate that they took this line. If
they had been less alarmist, the US would not have deployed tanks round the
museum on April 16 and the looting would have continued.

The impression that tens of thousands of items were missing was not
corrected after the tanks were in place for some time. The US military's
Civil Affairs team arrived only on April 22. A proper assessment of what had
been taken from the storerooms could not be made until the end of the first
week in May because until then the museum had no electricity to light the
storerooms. The first task of the US team was to get the museum's generator
repaired. This took some time. Once the sorting out began, it went forward
at a snail's pace as women employed in making the inventory refused to work
for more than a few hours a day because they were afraid to leave their
homes as long as lawlessness prevailed.

Instead of being involved in the theft, museum staff did their best to
preserve the collection by emptying the galleries during the three weeks
before the war. There is, however, some suspicion that one or more staff
members might have informed professional art thieves where certain items
were to be found.

The US military at one time apparently claimed senior staff permitted the
museum to be used as a bunker by 150 Iraqi troops and that the museum was
employed as a defensive position. There was no evidence that such a large
number of troops was based in the museum or its grounds or of fighting
between these troops and the US invaders. The museum's outer walls are not
pockmarked by incoming fire and shellcasings were not found in the building
or garden. In any case, museum officials could not have stopped the Iraqi
military from deploying at this site if orders had been issued to do so.

A watchman on the premises throughout the war reported that a feday came
over the wall on April 8, attempted to fire an anti-tank weapon from atop an
external archway, but was shot and killed by US troops. While evidence was
found that someone set up a firing position at a window in one of the
storerooms, this post was abandoned because nothing could be targeted from
that particular place. A shallow bunker dug in the garden in front of the
museum was not a defensive position but a protection for guards posted at
the museum. They ran away when US forces entered Baghdad.

The US military's claims, like today's exhibit, are meant to exculpate the
Bush administration which was, ultimately, responsible for the looting of
the world's main collection of Mesopotamian historical and cultural

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld summed up the administration's attitude
when he said that such "stuff" is usually lost during wartime. He was in
fact the person most at fault because he was responsible for the dispatch of
only 160,000 troops to the theatre of war. This "light" deployment has
created most of the administration's post-war problems with looting, anarchy
and destruction of Iraq's infrastructure. In spite of this, Rumsfeld has
clearly not learnt his lesson. He continues to find ways and means to "bring
the boys home" as soon as possible. What is happening on the ground in Iraq
is not his concern now that US troops have overthrown Saddam Hussein, the
man who had the audacity to survive the onslaught perpetrated by the first
Bush administration.


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003

The U.S.-appointed head of the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Thamir Abbas al-Ghadhban,
discussed the situation of Iraq's oil industry in an article published in
"Al-Ta'akhi" on 29 June. Al Ghadhban addressed the three main oil-related
issues currently attracting international media attention, writing, "The
persistent raising of the...issues requires some clarification in spite of
our belief that these are political issues and fall within the domain of the
future Iraqi government." The three issues are Iraq's membership in the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), rumors of a
Haifa-Mosul pipeline, and the privatization of the Iraqi oil industry.

Regarding Iraq's membership in OPEC, Ghadhban wrote that Iraq is a founding
member of the organization and retains its full membership status. "Since no
Iraqi government has been formed to represent Iraq in OPEC, no invitation
has been sent to the Ministry of Oil to attend the recent meetings of the
organization." He added that the presence of Iraq at OPEC meetings is
dependent upon the formation of a government and an official invitation from
OPEC. As for the post-Hussein OPEC membership status, Ghadhban stated that
the future Iraqi government would decide since the issue "is a sovereignty
issue and the current provisional administration of the Oil Ministry does
not have the authority to make decisions in this regard."

Ghadhban did not address rumors regarding the possible construction of a
pipeline to transport oil from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to the
northern Israeli city of Haifa. However, he acknowledged the existence of a
previous pipeline built by the British in the 1930s and dismantled by Iraq
and Jordan after 1948, which ran from Kirkuk to Haifa. Ghadhban noted that
that pipeline's supply system "has not existed for decades now," adding,
"Therefore, there is no export system under the name of Kirkuk-Haifa now."

He added that Iraq hopes to restore the capacity of the Khawr Al-Amaya and
Mina Al Bakr ports, as well as the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline, and the pipeline
system that ran through Saudi Arabia to Al-Mu'ajjiz. If this were
accomplished, Iraq would have an export capacity of over 6 million barrels
per day. "Taking the above into consideration, there is no project currently
for looking at extra alternative systems," he noted.

Al-Ghadhban also addressed the issue of privatizing the oil industry. "There
is a big difference between the need to attract foreign, Arab, and Iraqi
capital and investment to support the national economy and the
transformation of important investment sectors and activities from the
public to the private sector." He said that the Oil Ministry "has no
reservations" about privatizing some aspects of the oil industry "such as
distribution, transportation, service stations, and some other activities,
and partnership with the private sector in various forms." But, he added,
the issue of opening oil reserves to foreign investment, "on the basis of
privatization," "is another matter which is not supported." He added that
such a decision would require the establishment of investment laws and a
central government. "Our present plans allow entering into appropriate
contracts on the exploration of potential oil fields or the development of
some new oil fields through cooperation with Arab or foreign investors in a
way that will be of interest to both parties," Ghadhban wrote, but stated
conclusively, "We do not see privatization as an essential way to create
necessary investment to develop the Iraqi oil industry." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003

The director of the Al-Karkh Electricity Department was gunned down on 25
June, Baghdad's "Al-Ta'akhi" reported on 26 June. Hayfa Aziz Dawud was
killed when gunmen traveling in an electricity-department vehicle pulled up
alongside her and opened fire. Similarly, incidents of shootings have been
reported at other power stations throughout Iraq, although none of the
assailants have been captured. Meanwhile, "Al-Ta'akhi" reported that U.S.
administrator L. Paul Bremer has said that Ba'athists loyal to deposed Iraqi
President Hussein are responsible for acts of sabotage against
electric-power stations. The director of the southern Baghdad electric
station told the daily that programmed disruptions in electricity makes it
easier for gangs to cut electricity cables. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

*  The Rat in the Grain: Dan Amstutz and the Looting of Iraqi Agriculture
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Counterpunch, 4th July

The war on Iraq couldn't have come at a more dire time for Iraq's
beleaguered farmers. Spring is harvest time in the barley and wheat fields
of the Tigris River valley and planting time in the vast vegetable
plantations of southern Iraq.

The war is over, but the situation in the fields of Iraq continues to
rapidly deteriorate. The banks, which provide credit and cash, have been
looted, irrigation systems destroyed, road travel restricted, markets
closed, warehouses and grain silos pillaged.

To harvest the grain before it rots in the fields Iraqi farmers need more
than eight million gallons of diesel fuel to power Iraq's corroding armada
of combines and harvesters. But most of the fuel depots were incinerated by
US bombing strikes. There's no easy way to get the fuel that remains to the
farmers who need it most and no desire to do so by the US forces of

Even if the crops can be harvested, there's no clear way for the grain to
get stored, marketed, sold and distributed to hungry Iraqi families. Under
the Hussein regime, the crops were bought by the Baghdad government at a
fixed priced and then distributed through a rationing system. This system,
inefficient as it was, is gone. But nothing has taken its place.

Iraqi farmers are still owed $75 million for this year's crop, with little
sign that the money will ever arrive. There's speculation throughout the
country that one intent of the current policy is to force many farmers off
their farms and into the cities so that their lands can be taken over by
favorites of Ahmed Chalabi and his US protectors. The post-Saddam Iraq will
almost certainly witness a land redistribution program: more farmland going
into fewer and fewer hands.

Grain farmers aren't alone. As in the first Gulf War, US bombing raids
targeted cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fertilizer warehouses, pumping
stations, irrigation systems and pesticide factories (the closest thing the
US has come to finding Weapons of Mass Destruction in the country)-the very
infrastructure of Iraqi agriculture. It will take years to restore these

Many fields in southern Iraq lie fallow, as vegetable farmers have been
unable to secure seeds for this summer's crops of melons, tomatoes, onions,
cucumbers and beans-all mainstays of the Iraqi diet.

"We expect failures," said Abdul Aziz Nejefi, a barley farmer from Mosul, in
a dispatch from the Guardian. "We never had this situation before. There is
no government."

Meanwhile, millions of Iraqis face starvation this summer. A UN staff report
from late May paints a bleak portrait. It notes that Iraq's poultry industry
has effectively been decimated. Millions of chickens perished during the
war. Millions of others face starvation, since nearly of the chicken feed
stored in government warehouses has been looted. Chicken and eggs are
staples of the Iraqi, amounting for more than half of the animal protein
consumed by the population.

Many other farm animals, including sheep and goats, could be ravaged by
disease, since the nation's stockpiles of veterinary medicines and vaccines
have been almost totally destroyed or looted.

Some 60% of Iraq's 24 million people depend totally for their food on the
food ration system that was established after the Gulf War. Each week, these
Iraqis could count on a "food basket" consisting of wheat flour, rice,
vegetable oil, lentils beans, milk, sugar and salt. That system is now in
shambles and is scorned at by US policymakers. And promised grain imports
have yet to materialize.

"Before there is unwarranted military technological triumphalism, let those
setting out to manage the peace think mouths," says Tim Land, professor of
food policy at City University in London. "Grumbling stomachs are bad
politics as well as disastrous for the public health. There has to be a food
democracy after decades of food totalitarianism."

Into this dire circumstance strides Daniel Amstutz, the Bush
administration's choice to oversee the reconstruction of Iraq's agricultural
system. Now an international trade lobbyist in DC with a fat roster of big
ag clients, Amstutz once served as a top executive at Cargill, the food
giant which controls much of the world trade in grain. During Amstutz's
tenure at Cargill, the grain company went on a torrid expansion campaign. It
is now the largest privately held corporation in the US and controls about
94 percent of the soybean market and more than 50 percent of the corn market
in the Upper Midwest. It also has it's hands on the export market
controlling 40 percent of all US corn exports, a third of all soybean
exports and at least 20 percent of wheat exports.

Al Krebs, who edits the Agribusiness Examiner, a vital publication on US
farm policy, unearthed a 1982 questionnaire on food, politics and morality
that vividly illustrates the Cargill philosophy. The Joseph Project a public
policy research group sponsored by the Senate of Catholic Priests of the
Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St.Paul, asked Cargill executives to explain the
company's attitude toward hunger and famine issues. The executives responded
as follows:

"The assumption that there are moral priorities that are offended in serving
world or domestic markets as economically and efficiently as possible rests
on a confusion about economic facts. It is also a highly objectionable
characterization of business's role. Before one makes moral judgments and
advocates economic actions, one should understand the economic issues that
are involved.

"The business of making moral judgments is both hazardous and potentially
irresponsible unless one is fully satisfied that all the facts and causal
relationships have been explored . . . We are not in a position --- given
time and other constraints --- to provide all the relevant background. Nor
are we anxious to make moral judgments --- or moral defenses --- of our

In 2000, the biggest food companies in the world, Cargill, Archer Daniels
Midland, Cenex Harvest States Co-op, DuPont and Louis Dreyfus, got together
to form Pradium Inc., a kind of secret, internal grain market that offered
real-time, cash commodity exchanges for grains, oilseeds and agricultural
by-products as well as global information services. It also offered ways to
fix price grain prices on a global scale. Amstutz served as Pradium's

Amstutz is no stranger to government, either. During the first Bush
administration he served as Undersecretary of Agriculture for International
Affairs and Commodity programs. He was also the chief US negotiator on
agricultural issues for the Uruguay Round of GATT talks, which led to the

"Daniel Amstutz, an ex-Cargill executive, is there to push the agribusiness
agenda, not a democratic agenda," says George Naylor, president of the
National Family Farm Coalition. "He will excel in telling the world that his
policy is good for farmers, consumers and the environment when just the
opposite is true."

The small farmers of the grain belt of the Midwest have a particular
loathing for Amstutz. During his stint in the first Bush administration,
Amstutz devised the notorious Freedom to Farm Bill, which eliminated tariffs
and slashed federal farm price supports-all in an effort to lower grain
prices for the benefit of Amstutz's cronies in the big agricultural
conglomerates. As a result, thousands of American farmers lost their farms
and monopolists like Cargill reaped the benefits.

The contours of Amstutz's plan for Iraq are familiar: a combination of
free-market shock therapy and predation by multinational corporations.
Gliding over a decade of UN sanctions that have starved the nation and a war
that ravaged the nation's infrastructure, Amstutz announced that the real
problem facing Iraqi agriculture is, naturally, government subsidies. "Iraqi
farmers have had little incentive to increase production because of price
controls that have kept food very inexpensive," Amstutz announced. "With a
transition to a market economy, we can see health returning to agriculture
and incentives to employ good farming practices and modern techniques."

The more likely scenario is that Amstutz will use destitute condition of
Iraq's farmlands as a lucrative opportunity to dump cheap grain from
American companies like Cargill, all of it paid for by Iraqi oil. If this
scenario plays out, it will spell disaster for Iraq's struggling farmers.

Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq imported more than one million metric ton
per year of American wheat. Since then, however, no direct sales of American
agricultural products have occurred. Amstutz is anxious to begin flooding
Iraq with Cargill grain.

Moreover, Iraq owes the US Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit
Corp. $2 billion on loans that facilitated pre-1991 ag sales and nearly $2
billion in interest on the loans. Amstutz will certainly demand that those
loans be recouped through oil sales.

"Someone needs to warn the Iraqi people that other third world countries can
already attest that the dependence Amstutz will create surely means that
Iraq's sovereignty will be greatly compromised," says Naylor.

And Naylor argues that cash-strapped American farmers won't see any
benefits, either. "Even if there will be more exports to Iraq, this little
drop in the "Amstutz perpetuates the more exports lie because his
agribusiness cronies are encouraging overproduction all over the world, thus
being able to sell more genetically-modified seeds and chemicals and buying
ever cheaper farm commodities."

Even as millions of Iraqi's face starvation under the stern hand of their
food pro consul, Amstutz's appointment has excited little commentary in the
US. His most virulent critic has been Kevin Wilkins, Oxfam's policy director
in London. Watkins warns that Amstutz is little more than a carpetbagger
seeking to advance the interests of the same food titans that his lobbying
outfit in DC represents, Cargill, DuPont, Cenex and Archer Daniels Midland.

"This guy is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of
American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market, but singularly
ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a war torn country," Watkins
warns. "Putting Dan Amstutz in charge of agricultural reconstruction in Iraq
is like putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human rights commission."

Amstutz was recently spotted in Iowa, pitching his agricultural
reconstruction plan to Iowa feedlot owners. He told the farmers that they
stood to profit handsomely from his plan to bring modern feedlots to Iraq,
those foul-smelling operations that pack thousands of cattle and hogs into
tightly confined pens. "They are meat eaters," he brayed. "Iraq is not a
vegetarian society."

Iowa doesn't have many cattle or sheep operation. Most of the people in his
audience raised hogs. And unless Amstutz has joined in a partnership with
Franklin Graham to Christianize Iraq, there won't be a big market for pork
products in Baghdad.

by Mona Megalli
Reuters, 7th July

BAGHDAD, July 7: Iraq's U.S.-led civilian authority announced on Monday it
would free the country's central bank from government control and print new
banknotes to replace dinars bearing the face of ex-President Saddam Hussein.

U.S. civilian ruler Paul Bremer, who announced the move on Iraqi television,
said the new unit would be a variation on the older so-called Swiss dinar
now circulating in the northern controlled Kurdish area.

He also told Iraqis he had approved a budget for the second half of the year
allocating billions of dinars for key areas such as security, electricity
and other essential services.

"The coalition working closely with Iraqis at all levels is determined to
improve the economy of this country and the lives of all its citizens,"
Bremer said.

Many Iraqis complain that U.S. troops have failed to restore electricity and
water three months after they toppled Saddam Hussein and promised a better
life for the country.

The measures were announced against the backdrop of attacks that have killed
29 U.S. troops since major combat was declared over on May 1.

The attacks have raised concerns over Iraq's stability as international
investors eye reconstruction contracts in oil-rich Iraq.

Bremer signed an order making Iraq's central bank independent under interim
governor Faleh Salman, another senior official working for the Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA) ruling Iraq, he said.

The move effectively frees the central bank from government control for the
first time in decades and allows it to set monetary policy, the CPA official

The CPA decided the new notes were for the convenience of Iraqis in both the
north and the south and not merely to banish the face of Saddam Hussein, a
CPA official said.

"This was not the single driving force behind this decision," a senior CPA
official told reporters.

Iraqis have have three months starting October 15 to replace dinars bearing
the portrait of Saddam circulating in the south and the higher valued
so-called Swiss dinar changing hands in the north, Bremer said.

The new dinar banknote would be a variation on the Swiss dinar, Bremer said,
adding that only an eventual Iraqi government would have to the sovereignty
to design a fresh new range of notes.

"This is not a new currency, it is new notes," a CPA official said.

Iraqis will get one new dinar for each of their Saddam dinars and 150 of the
new unit for the Swiss dinar, a swap rate officials working for Bremer said
accurately reflected the relative strengths of the currencies now in
circulation. The new unit, which would float on foreign exchanges, would be
issued in six denominations ranging from 50 to 25,000 notes.

Britain's De La Rue Plc DLAR.L , the world's biggest commercial printer of
banknotes, said on Monday it was set to win the main contract to produce the
new banknotes.

Bremer also approved a budget for the second half of 2003 of nine trillion
dinars with over half its revenues from oil sales.

The budget, based on the Saddam dinar, allocates 440 billion dinars for
electricity, which has become a sore spot for most Iraqis enduring frequent
power cuts during soaring summer temperatures.

Billions more dinars will be spent on security, public health,
telecommunications and water and sewage, Bremer said.

The senior CPA official said the cash budget assumed oil revenues of $3.5
billion. The budget will be revised if Iraq is unable to achieve that level
of oil exports, the CPA official said.
tion=news&news_id=reu-n08184355 u2&date=20030708&alias=/alias/money/cm/nw

by Mona Megalli
Reuters, 8th July

BAGHDAD, July 8: U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer said on Tuesday
Iraq should consider privatising its state-owned sectors and allowing
foreign investment in its oil industry before a permanent sovereign
government takes over.

Bremer said that a soon-to-be-appointed governing council of Iraqis needed
to give clear backing to the entry of foreign capital to reassure private

"Privatisation is obviously something we have been giving a lot of thought
to," Bremer told reporters. "When we sit down with the governing is going to be on the table."

Bremer said although he has the authority to change Iraq's legal code, in
place since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in April, foreign investors need
some assurance any legal changes could survive once an elected Iraqi
government takes over.

"The governing council will be able to make statements that could be seen as
more binding and the trick will be to figure out how we do this," Bremer

"Everybody knows we cannot wait until there is an elected government here to
start economic reform."

Bremer said Iraqis should consider developing their oil resources rapidly
with foreign investment but did not specify if it had to be privatised or
what terms should be used.

A plan under study to securitise oil revenues, or use future oil revenues to
back spending on reconstruction, would also have to be put before the
governing council, he said.

"We the coalition, would not undertake anything like that without the
governing council agreeing, because you are effectively mortgaging the
future income that belongs to the Iraqi people," Bremer said.

The Iraqi council, made up of 25-30 appointed Iraqi politicians, will also
have to consider foreign investment in the telecommunications sector and the
tendering of licences to operate a wireless telephone system.

He said his administration would recommend the tendering of three licences
to build a mobile telephone network in the north, center and south of the

Bremer did not say which system the network should use -- the GSM system
used in Europe or a U.S.-based system not found in other countries in the

Iraq should consider foreign investment because it will not be able to
generate enough revenue to balance its budget for the next 18 months, he

A budget just approved by Bremer for the second half of 2003 assumes oil
production will rise to 1 million barrels per day by the end of the summer
and to 1.5 million bpd by the end of the year, Bremer said.

Bremer's aides said oil would generate $3.5 billion of the budget's $3.88
billion in revenues and assumed an oil price of $20 per barrel.

Bremer said the $6 billion budget would have a deficit of around $2 billion
which it would cover by drawing down on its capital resources that include
$1.7 billion in seized assets held by the United States, money seized in
Iraq as well as funds found in the central bank.

Iraq is also aiming to reach oil output of 2.5 to 3 million bpd by the end
of 2004, something that could be achieved with about $1-$1.5 billion spent
to repair sabotage and damage to its ailing oil system.

Bremer said his administration was considering many options to increase
security for the country's oil network, including the use of tribal leaders
to patrol their territories.

Jordan Times, 9th July    
BAGHDAD (AFP)  The US-led coalition in Iraq announced Tuesday it was
recalling staff from the interior ministry to get security and services up
and running, but former intelligence officers were not invited to return.

"All Iraqis who worked for the ministry of the interior should report back
to work by July 22," senior adviser to the interim interior ministry and
former New York police commissioner, Bernard Kerick, told journalists in

"If you do not return to work by July 22, your employment will be
terminated," he added.

Kerick said that under Saddam Hussein's regime, propped up by a labyrinthine
state security apparatus, the ministry included six separate offices that
covered internal investigations, security and intelligence.

"These were used for investigating, intimidating and attacking members of
government and Iraqis for political purposes.

"Those offices are all being eliminated and will no longer exist," he said,
urging other former workers to return to work as soon as possible, "to bring
the ministry back to full force."

He said he was not aware how many people previously worked for the ministry,
explaining that much of the data on those involved in the intelligence
departments had either been destroyed or lost.

Departments that the ministry is anxious to restore are those covering
police, customs, border control, immigration, civil defence and the fire
department, Kerick said.

The official also confirmed that Iraqis providing information leading to the
arrest of those behind a spate of attacks on US troops and local police
would be eligible for a minimum reward of $2,500.

The coalition's Arabic-language Al Sabah newspaper earlier invited members
of the public to call a US-based cell phone or a satellite number, with
coalition forces promising to treat all information in confidence.

The announcement said people could also directly approach any Iraqi police
officer or coalition soldier with information.

Kerick also said the coalition was banning vehicles with tinted windows,
with effect from July 20. He said that several assaults on coalition forces
and Iraqi police had been carried out by attackers in vehicles with tinted

With fragile security ranking as one of the top concerns for Iraqis, Kerick
said Baghdad now had 34 active police stations, a figure he hoped would
eventually rise to around 60, without specifying a timeframe.




RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003

The Religious Scholars Association based in Al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad,
has issued a statement that calls on citizens not to respond to recent calls
to kill all those who cooperate with coalition forces, "Al-Sharq al-Awsat"
reported on 1 July. The statement lists, however the names of 33 individuals
"whose blood has been sanctioned," the daily reported. The list reportedly
includes the mayor of Al-Fallujah, two former Ba'ath Party members who
served as division commanders, a number of government employees, and five
religious scholars. According to "Al-Sharq al-Awsat," "the group did not
sign the statement with a particular name but it started off with the
Qur'anic verse: 'Slay them wherever ye find them and take no friends or
helpers from their ranks.'"


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa has told the Egyptian Council on
Foreign Relations that the Arab League must enact reforms or face continued
stagnation, "Al-Ahram Weekly" reported in its 26 June-2 July issue. "There
are no two ways about it, the Arab League must be reformed so as to be able
to meet the challenges facing Arab countries and collective Arab interests,"
Musa said.

Musa has become increasingly critical of his organization's ability to
effect influence in the international political arena in recent months,
particularly after the league failed in trying to get coalition forces to
find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi conflict (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7
April 2003). "I admit that the league is not doing well. I admit that much
more could be done, and could have been done. However, when we talk of the
performance of the Arab League, we are talking about the collective Arab
will of its member states," Musa told the council. He noted that while his
role is to "observe and promote the interests" of member states, there is
not much that he can achieve when Arab countries fail to agree on what their
shared interests are.

"There is an ongoing debate about how to reconceptualize pan-Arabism in a
way that is categorically different from what we espoused during the second
half of the past century," Musa said, adding, "A 'neo-pan-Arabism' is what
we need." His vision includes a cohesion of Arab economic interests and
collective Arab action based on political realism, the weekly reported. He
said that member states should strive to promote a stronger inter-Arab
dialogue, support Palestinian aspirations towards self determination, and
work towards forging a strong dialogue with the United States "so that these
relations are founded on the right basis and proceed in a way that
accommodates the multiple interests of the Arab states."

The secretary-general added that a "new" Arab League should not limit itself
to long standing issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but should
also address socio-economic and cultural matters, saying, "While it is
important for us to debate the consequences of Israel's nuclear plants, it
is also important to debate ways of confronting the slander campaign that
has been carried out against Arabs and Muslims since 11 September 2001."
(Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003

Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr allegedly made a deal with the Iranian
government during his early June visit to Iran, Milan's "Corriere della
Sera" reported on 25 June. Citing anonymous "Kurdish sources," the centrist
daily reported that al-Sadr met in Qom with Qasem Suleimani of the Islamic
Revolution Guards Corps' Qods Force and in Tehran with Expediency Council
Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and other regime leaders.
The two sides reportedly agreed that in exchange for financial aid to
al-Sadr and his followers, al-Sadr will: accept the Iranian theocratic model
of Vilayat-i Faqih (Guardianship of the Supreme Jurisconsult) and advocate
it in Iraq; reject the U.S.-U.K. presence in Iraq; and oppose the main
source of emulation in Al-Najaf, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Ali al-Sistani.
Moreover, al-Sadr and his followers will effectively replace traditional
Shi'a groups, particularly the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq. (For more on al-Sadr's trip to Iran, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 9 June
2003.) (Bill Samii)

by Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo, 7th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops raiding Iraqi homes in search of weapons and
suspects are trampling on a particularly important Muslim sensibility  the
sanctity of the home.

Many Iraqis see the pre-dawn raids as the single most offending practice of
the U.S. occupation. They're part of hundreds of cultural clashes that occur
daily between Iraqis and Americans.

U.S. troops have been raiding homes in search of members of Saddam Hussein's
toppled regime and illegal weapons since the fall of Baghdad. But the raids
have become much more frequent in recent weeks, focusing on areas north and
west of the Iraqi capital where the former dictator enjoyed his strongest

Iraqis complain the raids expose women to soldiers when they are not
properly dressed  raising questions of honor in much of Iraq  and terrify
children. They say the soldiers force doors open rather than use keys on
offer, go through personal belongings and humiliate the men in front of
their families by cuffing their hands and ordering them to lay face down on
the ground.

U.S. officials counter that soldiers don't intend to mistreat Iraqis. The
raids, they say, are carried out professionally and for genuine security

"They're humiliating," Mahmoud al-Samarrai, 50, said of the raids. "Some of
our fellow Muslims and Arabs say the Americans liberated us. If they think
this is liberation, then we wish them the same," said the retired civil
servant from Samarra, a stronghold of Saddam supporters north of Baghdad and
a frequent target of U.S. raids.

Iraqis, like Muslims everywhere, observe a rigid etiquette when entering
someone else's home. The process is designed to safeguard the privacy and
allow time for women to move out of sight or to change into more appropriate
dress  covering the body with loose garments and using a scarf to conceal
the hair in line with Islamic practice.

Traditionally, men visiting another's home pause outside to announce their
presence through a loud clearing of the throat, shouting a greeting or
calling out the name of the man of the house. They wait outside until the
head of the family tells them to proceed.

Many rural homes in Iraq have a special room with a separate entrance that's
used exclusively by the head of the family to receive male guests, an
arrangement that keeps women out of the visitors' sight.

Under Islamic law, taking out the eye of someone who spies on someone else's
home need not be punished.

"Our homes have sanctity, but these American aggressors have no way of
knowing that," said Hatem Ahmed, a mosque imam and a lecturer at Baghdad
University. "They have become a heavy burden on us and it's time they left,"
he said.

An Associated Press reporter who accompanied U.S. troops during a recent
raid on a Baghdad house said the soldiers stormed in, shouting and swearing.
They rushed into a living room. Women shrieked while clutching crying

"Sit down!" the soldiers screamed at the women. Then they kicked open the
home's doors, found a man and dragged him outside. The man was handcuffed
and sat against a wall until herded onto a truck and taken for questioning.

In Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad where U.S. troops have come under
frequent attacks, men as old as 60 recounted raids on their homes when they
were handcuffed and told to stand facing a wall.

U.S. military commanders say they must balance security with efforts to win
the trust of Iraqis.

"I will not deny that there are times when we have been forceful and
knocking down doors," said Maj. Anthony Aguto of the 3rd Armored Cavalry
Regiment in al-Anbar province, scene of the worst violence against U.S.
forces. "We do that when we feel that we are in danger or threatened or when
we have reliable intelligence on weapons."

Aguto said there were instances when the use of force was unnecessary, with
soldiers quickly calming members of the household and offering sweets to the

"My men are culturally sensitive," he declared, adding that many of them
find house raids to be "distasteful but necessary."

Capt. Michael Calvert, the regiment's spokesman, said that in cases when
intelligence that led to a house raid was found to be false, U.S. troops
returned to the raided dwelling and carried out repairs.

AP writer Jim Krane contributed to this report from Baghdad.

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