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News, 2-9/7/03 (2) BUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE * 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 RESTLESS NATIVES * '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 BUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1629- 2003Jul2.html?nav=hptop_tb * LACK OF STEADY ELECTRICITY IS BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO RECONSTRUCTION, OFFICIALS SAY 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 curtailed. 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 authority. 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 commission. 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 dangerous." http://www.jordantimes.com/Thu/opinion/opinion2.htm * IRAQI MUSEUM EXHIBIT ‹ A PUBLIC RELATIONS STUNT 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 artefacts. 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. RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * IRAQI MINISTRY OF OIL CHIEF ADDRESSES OIL DEVELOPMENTS 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) RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * ELECTRICITY DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL KILLED 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) http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair07042003.html * 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 occupations. 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 operations. 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 own." 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 chairman. 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 WTO. "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. http://www.reuters.com/financeNewsArticle.jhtml?type=bondsNews&storyID=30490 40 * U.S.CIVILIAN AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES NEW IRAQ BANKNOTES 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 said. 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. http://money.iwon.com/jsp/nw/nwdt_rt_top.jsp?cat=TOPBIZ&src=201&feed=reu&sec tion=news&news_id=reu-n08184355 u2&date=20030708&alias=/alias/money/cm/nw * BREMER SAYS IRAQ SHOULD CONSIDER OIL [AND OTHER FOREIGN] INVESTMENT 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 investors. "Privatisation is obviously something we have been giving a lot of thought to," Bremer told reporters. "When we sit down with the governing council...it 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 said. "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 country. 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 region. 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 said. 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news8.htm * COALITION RECALLS IRAQI INTERIOR MINISTRY 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 Baghdad. "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 windows. 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. [.....] RESTLESS NATIVES RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * 'RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION' SAYS SOME 'COLLABORATORS' MAY BE KILLED 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.'" RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * ARAB LEAGUE CHIEF PRESSES FOR REFORMS 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) RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * TEHRAN ALLEGEDLY MAKES DEAL WITH MUQTADA AL-SADR 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) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030707/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ir aq_offending_iraqis&cid=540&ncid=1480 * U.S. RAIDS OFFEND IRAQI SENSIBILITIES 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 support. 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 reasons. "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 babies. "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 children. "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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk