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[casi] News, 14-22/10/03 (1)

News, 14-22/10/03 (1)


*  Another Challenge in Iraq: Giving Up Food Rations
*  Drugs crisis threatens to break fragile health service
*  Al-Basrah Airport opening delayed again


*  UK Contractors in Iraq Accused of Importing Labor and Exporting Profit
*  Senate Defies Bush On Iraq Assistance
*  No let-up in violence in Iraq
*  The Enron Pentagon


*  Senior Terrorist Figure Captured in Iraq
*  Car explodes near us base in Kirkuk: four Jordanians shot dead
*  Suicide car bomber attacks Turkish embassy in Baghdad
*  Iraqi oil minister, INC aide escape assassination attempt
*  Two troops die in Iraqi ambush on US convoy
*  U.S. soldier killed in Iraq ambush


by John Tierney,
New York Times, 12th October

BAGHDAD, Iraq: The overhaul of welfare in America may seem complicated, but
it has been simple compared with the challenge in Iraq. In the United
States, the people who relied on public assistance were defined as the
underclass. In Iraq, they're the entire nation.

To Saddam Hussein, a culture of dependency was not a social problem but a
political plus. Father Saddam, as he liked to be called, provided citizens
with subsidized homes, cheap energy and, most important, free food. After
international sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, he started a program
that now uses 300 government warehouses and more than 60,000 workers to
deliver a billion pounds of groceries every month" a basket of rations
guaranteed to every citizen, rich or poor.

American and Iraqi authorities are now struggling to get out of the
grocery-delivery business without letting anyone go hungry. They're trying
to find a politically practical way of replacing the rations with cash
payments or some version of food stamps. Planners would ultimately like to
see the aid given only to the needy, but for starters they would simply like
to get all Iraqis accustomed to shopping for themselves.

"We need to replace the food program and attack the dependency culture
created by Saddam Hussein," said Barham Salih, the prime minister of a
Kurdish section of northern Iraq, which also receives the rations. "This
culture has become one of the biggest obstacles to rebuilding Iraq.
Everybody expects the U.S. to turn on its supercomputer and make all of our
problems go away, but we should be learning to do things by ourselves."

You can get a sense of the challenge facing reformers by visiting Zayuna,
one of Baghdad's most affluent neighborhoods. While many Iraqis "60 percent
of the population, by some estimates" depend heavily on the food rations,
the residents of Zayuna generally do not.

In fact, many of them disdain the items in the basket, which includes rice,
flour, beans, sugar, oil, salt, powdered milk, tea, soap and laundry
detergent. But most residents still make sure to collect "or have their
servants collect" their monthly rations from the program's agent operating
in their neighborhood.

Then they take the items they don't want and drive to a roadside kiosk at
the nearby Thulatha market, where vendors are legally allowed to buy the
rationed groceries and resell them to less picky consumers. After the
citizens sell their government-issued groceries, they either pocket the cash
or apply the proceeds toward the purchase of better products available at
the market, like olive oil to replace the cheaper soy oil.

To an outsider watching people make these exchanges, it might seem odd for
people in Mercedeses and BMW's to be profiting from government food aid,
especially since the original justification for the aid has vanished. The
program began as an emergency response to United Nations trade sanctions,
and was later supplemented with provisions from the separate oil-for-food
program of the United Nations. Even though the sanctions have ended, the
program is still considered indispensable.

"It would be a disaster if the program ended," said Haidar Hassan, one of
the vendors at the market, and he was not merely speaking of his own
business as a middleman. "If the government did not give out all this rice,
there would be a shortage of rice in the market." He predicted the price of
a kilogram (about two pounds) would quadruple from its current price of 10

His clientele was similarly alarmed. "My economic situation is good, but
even I could not afford the new higher prices if they stopped the program,"
said Thaeir Ezadden, a police captain whose salary had recently more than
quintupled, to $150 per month, thanks to the new pay scales instituted by
American authorities.

Mr. Ezadden said he might be willing to go along with one change currently
being considered "giving everyone cash payments instead of rations "but only
if it was accompanied by more central planning.

"If they gave out money instead of food," he said, "the Americans would have
to establish an office in the Ministry of Trade to control all the food
prices. Otherwise businessmen would import food and make a profit with high
prices. The Americans should also give jobs to everyone who needs one."

Economists, while acknowledging the need for protecting consumers during the
transition, say that a market economy would provide food much more cheaply
and efficiently than the current government-run system. But the American and
Iraqi officials in charge of the program know that economists' arguments are
not going to assuage the fears of citizens who have forgotten how the market

"We want to phase out the rations program, but we must take into account the
concerns of our most vulnerable citizens," said Fakhrldin Rashan, the acting
officer in charge of the Ministry of Trade. "The transition to a different
system of payments must be done slowly."

Planners are considering gradually replacing some groceries with cash
welfare payments or some version of food stamps that could be redeemed at
local markets. Besides giving shoppers more choices, the change would also
help Iraqi merchants and farmers, because consumers would presumably buy
more local fruits and vegetables instead of relying on the many imported
foods in their rations.

Mr. Rashan said no major changes in the program would take place before next
year, although one small part of it will be privatized soon. The drivers who
now deliver the food to government warehouses will essentially be given
their trucks and then paid as independent contractors instead of as
government employees.

But that still leaves close to 20,000 other government employees in the food
program, plus another 45,000 distributors who dole out the food at
neighborhood storefronts. Any change in the program is sure to bring
protests from the affected workers as well as from citizens accustomed to
having their shopping done for them.

"People expected the Americans to come in and create a better rations
system," said Robin Raphel, a State Department official who has advised
Iraq's Trade Ministry. "But we can never make the system work as well as it
did when the whole country was a command-and control system run from the
center, and even then it was profoundly inefficient. We want to introduce
market forces and get people used to making their own decisions."

After Iraqis adjust to shopping for themselves with food stamps or welfare
payments, planners would like to wean the more affluent citizens from any
kind of aid. But no one expects American or Iraqi officials to take that
step anytime soon.

"We have to be very careful with our food program," said Mr. Rashan, of the
Trade Ministry. "We already have enough social and political problems in
this country. We don't want to create any more."

Mr. Rashan, incidentally, said that he himself has not been picking up
rations for the past several months, but not out of any ideological qualms.

"I've been so busy with the new responsibilities here that I haven't had
time to pick up the basket," he said. "But I hope I'll find the time next

by Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
The Guardian, 15th October

Hadir Diya is back in a grimy bed at Baghdad's al-Kadhimiya teaching
hospital for another bout of treatment for leukaemia. Her mother sits by her
side and smiles, grateful that after three years, her daughter's disease is
in remission.

Dr Wasim al-Tamimi is much more worried. He has seen cases like this too
many times before. Hadir, 18, is having chemotherapy but for years the
doctors have had no supplies of a drug she vitally needs - Mercaptopurine -
which is commonly used across the world to suppress the symptoms of this
acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Without it, the leukaemia is likely to reappear and will probably one day
claim Hadir's life.

"She has been on an incomplete drug regime ever since she was first
diagnosed," he said.

"Without this drug there is a real danger of relapse. We have seen it happen
before. But this drug is just not available."

Hadir's mother, Iman, spent 150,000 Iraqi dinars (£55) on 25 tablets of the
drug that will last her daughter little more than a week.

"It is very expensive and it's getting harder and harder to find," she said.

Under the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq throughout the 1990s, the delivery of
many of these life-saving drugs were delayed or refused entry into Iraq.

Six months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the drug shortage is
as serious as ever. It has fast become the biggest crisis facing Iraq's
fragile health service and a severe test of America's bold promises for
post-war Iraq.

Last week Dr al-Tamimi watched another of his leukaemia patients die. The
woman, aged 32, had suffered from acute myeloid leukaemia for three years.
Dr al-Tamimi wanted to treat her with another drug commonly used in the west
called Atra, or All-trans-retinoic acid, which forces leukaemia cells to
rapidly mature and die, forcing the disease into remission.

This drug has not been available in Iraq for years and even now cannot be
bought in pharmacies.

Twice in the past the woman's parents travelled across the border into
Jordan to buy a supply of Atra. Twice she went into remission. Two months
ago she was brought into the al Kadhimiya again to be treated for a third
relapse. Again her parents travelled to Jordan to buy the drug, but when
they returned last week they were too late.

"On the day the drug arrived we lost her," said Dr al-Tamimi.

"She died simply because the drug is not available in Iraq. We come across
these cases all the time."

Only wealthier families can even think of travelling to Jordan to shop for
life-saving drugs such as Atra.

A three-month course costs a crippling 42m Iraqi dinars (£15,000).
"Sometimes the families ask if there is a drug abroad that can help," the
doctor said.

"If they are poor we don't even tell them. We don't want them to feel they
have failed to do something to help their relative. This has become
something we are used to."

While the US has spent millions of dollars repairing Iraq's oil fields,
hunting for weapons of mass destruction and catering for the 150,000 troops
deployed in Iraq, the country's ailing health service is struggling to stay

Aid workers say the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, has
failed to realise the scale of the crisis and many fear the entire health
sector is simply being lined up for privatisation.

"It is completely unclear what is going on," said Thomas Dehermann, the head
of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières in Baghdad. "Because they are not
coping they don't want us to know."

For now, hospitals are reliant on old stocks, many of them looted after the
war, and on vital drug shipments from the World Health Organisation. WHO is
delivering $130m worth of medicines paid for by Saddam's government under
the oil for food programme along with an extra $18m worth bought by WHO
itself. Every other day 15 truckloads of medicines are brought into Baghdad
but the deliveries will cease in late November when the oil for food
programme ends.

Saddam's reign left Iraq the legacy of a highly centralised, bureaucratic
and frequently corrupt health system. A state firm, Kimadia, is responsible
for buying in all medicines for government hospitals and all private
pharmacies. But the Guardian has learned that in the six months since the
war, Kimadia has only secured two drug deliveries, neither of which are for
much-needed lifesaving drugs. One delivery was for 50,000 rabies vaccines
and the second was for 2m chlorine tablets, for water purification.

Taha Omran, Kimadia's deputy director, blames the drug shortage on
bureaucracy and a lack of funding from the CPA.

"Here in Iraq we don't have the communications we need to buy the best
quality drugs from abroad and the ministry of health only restarted three or
four weeks ago," he said.

The CPA has given the ministry a $210m budget until the end of this year, of
which $125m can be spent on importing drugs and medical equipment.

"It is just not enough to face our urgent needs," Dr Omran said.

Under Saddam, Kimadia relied on heavy subsidies to buy its drugs. Now it
must pay the much higher market price. The CPA has also told him that in the
coming months the supply of drugs in Iraq will be part privatised.

Even the most basic work at Kimadia, including an inventory of existing drug
stocks, has yet to happen, said Mr Dehermann.

He said: "They need to do an inventory and they need to find out how they
are going to support Kimadia once the oil for food pipeline stops."

US officials working on Iraq's health sector say today's problems are a
result of three decades of mismanagement and corruption under Saddam

James Haveman, the senior American adviser at the health ministry, said
limited budgets were also to blame and that until next year Iraq would have
to rely on the WHO drugs now being delivered.

"I only have enough money in my budget to buy ahead for next year," he said.

"And we know there is not enough money in the budget to meet the equipment
needs. Does it pain me when I go through these hospitals? It surely does.
Can we do something better for them? Yes, we can."


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 43, 16 October 2003

The reopening of the Al-Basrah Airport has been postponed indefinitely,
Voice of the Mujahedin Radio quoted British Army spokesman Hisham Halawi as
saying on 9 October. The delay is due to continued instability in the area
and inadequate infrastructure at the airport. (Kathleen Ridolfo)



by Nicolas Pelham
Financial Times, 14th October

US sub-contractors are importing cheap migrant labor from south Asia to
Iraq, despite high local unemployment and complaints from Iraqi contractors
that they are being overlooked by the US-led administration in Baghdad.

US officials in the Iraqi capital say that six months into their occupation
of Iraq, security conditions have forced companies to turn to south Asian
lab our to implement contracts, from prison-building to catering for US

Recent weeks have seen unrest in several major cities, including the capital
Baghdad, amid rising anger at Iraq's high unemployment rate.

"We don't want to overlook Iraqis, but we want to protect ourselves," says
Colonel Damon Walsh, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority's
procurement office. "From a force protection standpoint, Iraqis are more
vulnerable to a bad guy influence." US troops and some companies under
contract to the US government nevertheless seem prepared to take the "risk".

Iraqis form the bulk of the workforce for reconstructing Iraq's prisons.

General Janis Karpinski, who is overseeing the prison program, says she has
had "no single security incident" involving Iraqi contractors.

"You find other [non-Iraq] nationalities in out-of-the-way corners taking 15
minute naps," she says. "Iraqis see work as a way of getting the country on
its feet." Bechtel, which is handling a $680m (&euro577m, £408m)
reconstruction program for USAid, has meanwhile held open days for Iraqi
contractors and intends to spend $215m of $300m on Iraqi sub contracts.

"If the work can be done by an Iraqi firm at a competitive price that's
who's going to do it," says Francis Caravan, Bechtel spokesman in Baghdad.

But a number of businesses based in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that
have contracts to supply the US army are wary of employing indigenous labor.

"Iraqis are a security threat," says a Pakistani manager in Baghdad for the
Tamimi Company, based in the Saudi city of Dammam, which is contracted to
cater for 60,000 soldiers in Iraq. "We cannot depend on them." The company,
which has 12 years' experience feeding US troops in the Gulf, employs 1,800
Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese in its kitchens. It uses only
a few dozen Iraqis for cleaning.

In the dusty backyard of the US administrators' Baghdad palace, south
Asians, housed 12 to a Saudi-made temporary cabin, organize 180,000 meals a
day for US troops and administrators.

A Tamimi manager says the company pays an average salary of one Saudi riyal
($3) a day and grants leave once every two years. The contracts are awarded
by Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, which in 2001
won its second Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or Logcap, contract to
sub-contract the supply of US military provisions. The Logcap is open-ended
and its Iraqi share is worth "in excess of $2bn", according to officials of
the Defense Contract Management Agency in Baghdad.

"The US military have never outsourced resources on this scale," says the
DCMA's Colonel Damon Walsh. "If it weren't for this service support we would
have needed at least 20,000 more troops." KBR officials in Baghdad declined
to provide details of their employment policy in Iraq, or the size of their
Asian workforce.

However, Patrice Mingo, a KBR spokesman in Houston, says: "We buy as much as
can locally and if we are unable to buy locally we go the Middle East. We
look at Iraqis first, but we don't track our employees by ethnicity." The
potential for ill-feeling nevertheless remains. "US contractors are
importing labor. and expatriating the benefits," says Hakim Awad, an Iraqi
construction manager who queues for contracts outside Baghdad Airport every
day. "Where's the benefit accruing to Iraq?" Under a new Iraqi investment
law, foreigners can own companies in full and export all the profits. US
officials say they encourage firms to employ Iraqis but do not stipulate a
minimum percentage for Iraqi employees.

The recourse to an Urdu-and Bengali-speaking workforce has historical echoes
for Iraqis, who recall the south Asian workers the India Office imported to
maintain the British army following their invasion of Iraq during the first
world war.

Some also fear the replication of labor patterns from Gulf states, whose
economies are dependent on Arab and Asian migrants.

by Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post, 17th October

Defying weeks of intense White House lobbying, a narrowly divided Senate
voted last night to convert half of President Bush's $20.3 billion Iraq
rebuilding plan into a loan that would be forgiven if other donor nations
write off the debt incurred by the ousted government of Saddam Hussein.

The 51 to 47 vote came an hour after the Republican-controlled House
defeated a similar loan amendment, 226 to 200, setting up potentially
difficult House-Senate negotiations next week as lawmakers rush to conclude
a final spending plan for Iraq before an international donors conference
next Thursday in Madrid.

The Senate and House are poised to approve today nearly all of the
president's $87 billion request for the military and reconstruction efforts
in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate's version of the spending measure
mirrors Bush's, although it contains the $10 billion loan provision. The
House's version hews closely to the administration's but shaves $1.7 billion
from the reconstruction fund, stripping out such items as the Iraq Zip code
implementation, garbage trucks and a one-month business course that has
become politically unpalatable to many Republicans.

The Senate vote was a rare defeat for Bush in the GOP-led Congress, and it
came after his intensive personal involvement. It indicated the depth of
misgivings about the request among lawmakers of both parties and the
constituents who have flooded them with protest letters and calls. Bush has
maintained that a loan would confirm Middle Eastern suspicions of U.S.
motives in Iraq, but Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said no amount of money
is going to change the minds of those who believe the administration invaded
for Iraq's oil.

"I don't want to give in to a great lie. You can't buy your way out of this
problem," said Graham, one of the five Republican co-authors of the Senate's
loan provision. "You can't take $10 billion of taxpayer money, [while]
people are losing their jobs, to buy your way out of a great lie. It would
be terrible if the people of this country who have sacrificed so much wound
up not getting a dime back."

Bush had sternly warned Congress yesterday not to convert any part of his
rebuilding plan into a loan. "The administration strongly opposes efforts to
convert any portion of this assistance to a loan mechanism," the White House
said in a statement. "Doing so would slow efforts to stabilize the region
and to relieve pressure on our troops, raise questions about our commitment
to building a democratic and self-governing Iraq, and impair our ability to
encourage other nations to provide badly needed assistance without saddling
Iraq with additional unsustainable debt."

That argument won the day in the House, although 18 Republicans voted for a
Democratic amendment to turn half of the reconstruction aid into a loan.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) used a parliamentary tactic to
prevent a GOP loan amendment from reaching a vote, then he appealed to his
colleagues' patriotism.

"We will pay any price and bear any burden to advance the cause of human
liberty," DeLay told lawmakers. "And after the shock and awe of major
combat, the price and burden of human hope shifted from the battlefield to
the town hall and the town market. And that hope cannot come in the form of
a promissory note."

"It's our fight," he concluded, "and now it's our job."

But in the Senate, eight Republicans -- many of them usually reliable Bush
supporters -- abandoned the president. They were Ben Nighthorse Campbell
(Colo.), John Ensign (Nev.), Graham, Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), Sam Brownback
(Kans.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins

Four Democrats voted against the amendment: Zell Miller (Ga.), Maria
Cantwell (Wash.), Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.).

There is little doubt that Congress will approve the $87 billion request,
even if some of it becomes a loan. Democratic leaders are split, with House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) saying she will vote against "an $87
billion bailout of a failed Iraq policy," while Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer
(Md.) said he will vote for it.

"Failure in Iraq is not an option," Hoyer said. "And additional funding is
vital to our efforts."

The ultimate outcome of the loan debate is far from assured. Rep. Fred Upton
(Mich.), a moderate Republican, said the Senate's approach will have strong
appeal to House members looking for leverage to force countries to forgive
their loans to Iraq. But Rep. Jeff Flake (R Ariz.), an outspoken
conservative, said Congress would be ceding authority to donor nations such
as France and Germany, which would in effect have the power to decide
whether U.S. funds are loans or grants.

House conservatives had been the original proponents of the loan approach,
and House GOP leaders allowed them to express that support in a debate over
a Republican-written loan measure. But House leaders then refused to allow
the measure to come to a vote. Conservative Republicans took to the floor to
portray Iraq as an oil-rich nation that should be required to repay the U.S.
largesse, and to express the frustrations of their constituents.

"We're going to borrow this money so that we can give it to Iraq, which will
be rich with oil in 10 years?" Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked.
"That's obscene."

But Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) said a loan would be impractical and would slow
the pace of the reconstruction that is necessary to ensure that U.S. troops
can leave a peaceful Iraq. Many of the Republicans who had argued for the
GOP loan amendment then voted against the Democratic version.

The House also narrowly defeated an amendment by Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.)
that would have shifted $3.6 billion from the Iraq reconstruction fund to
the U.S. military to pay for the medical and dental screening of military
reservists, for family assistance centers, for pre-paid phone cards for the
troops in Iraq, for the transportation of troops on rest-and relaxation
leave, for the construction of more water treatment and power plants for the
deployed troops, and for the repair and replacement of damaged equipment.
The amendment died, 216 to 209.

Bangladeshi Independent, 17th October



Earlier, US forces said they engaged on Tuesday a group of people they claim
infiltrated from neighboring Syria, killing a few of them and detaining
others, as a US helicopter hit by small arms fire was forced to land.

The American claim, denied by Damascus, came a few hours before the US House
of Representatives voted 398-4 to sanction Syria for its alleged ties to
terrorist groups and its purported efforts to obtain nuclear, biological and
chemical weapons.


The top US civilian in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has insisted that financial
support was key to stability, and urged the US Congress to approve
reconstruction funds in the form of a grant rather than a loan.

"Imposing unpayable debt burdens on Germany following World War I is now
recognized as a major contributing factor to German economic and social
collapse in the 1920s -- the collapse which cleared Hitler's rise to power,"
he said on Wednesday.

The US Congress is currently debating a 20 billion-dollar package in
reconstruction funds for Iraq.

US Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, on a brief visit to Baghdad, said "a
major step toward economic security," already was taken with Wednesday's
launching of a new, counterfeit-proof currency to replace the over-printed
dinar that featured the grinning face of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

by P.W. Singer, 10/19/2003
Boston Globe, 19th October

THE IRAQ WAR has been a stunning revelation of trends that could shape the
next decades of global politics and conflict - from the revolution in
military technologies to the challenges presented by stability operations.
However, one underexplored current is the extent to which warfare itself is
being privatized.

Breaking out of the "guns for hire" mold of traditional mercenaries,
corporations now sell the sort of services that soldiers used to provide.
These worldwide businesses range from small firms that supply teams of
commandos for hire to large corporations that run military supply chains.
This huge, new "privatized military industry" has operated in more than 50
countries, from Albania to Zambia. But its largest client is the US
taxpayer: Over the last decade our government has signed more than 3,000
contracts with private military firms.

Iraq is not just the biggest US military commitment in generations, it is
also the biggest market for private military services - ever. Before the
war, private firms helped with the invasion's training and planning. During
the war, private military employees handled everything from feeding and
housing US troops to maintaining our most sophisticated weapons systems,
like the B-2 stealth bomber or the Global Hawk UAV.

Private firms now play an even more stunning variety of roles in the Iraq
occupation. One example is the controversial Dyncorp firm, a Virginia-based
company whose employees were implicated in sex crimes in the Balkans; they
are now training the post-Saddam police force. Other firms are training the
new Iraqi army and paramilitary forces and guarding critical facilities.

Indeed, the ratio of private contractors to US military personnel in the
Gulf is roughly 1 to 10. Overall, the private military industry is actually
our largest ally in the "coalition of the willing" (or perhaps we should
rename it the "coalition of billing"). For example, Global Risk Managment of
the United Kingdom has 1,100 personnel in Iraq, including 500 Nepalese
Gurkha troops and 500 Fijian soldiers, ranking it sixth among troop donors.

The expansion of this private military industry has its positive aspects,
such as specialization or the promise of cost savings through competition.
More important, it has arisen in a time when there is a gap between the
supply and demand for professional forces. In lieu of calling up more
reserves, private assistance has helped our nation meet unprecedented new
global commitments.

But privatization also comes with risks. In particular are poor accounting
and accountability, a now common thread in the conduct of both business and
our government. The absence of oversight may make Iraq the "Big Dig" of the
private military industry - a profit bonanza for the firms, but a loss on
the public policy ledger.

A myriad of questions surround our dealings with the industry. For example,
the Pentagon does not even know how many private military employees, or
foreign subcontractors, it has working for it. Likewise, there is no
requirement to reveal the number of private military casualties (at least
five killed in Iraq by unofficial media accounts) or, in turn, the number of
Iraqis killed by their employees.

This lack of accounting also means that we don't know the number of
contractors who have either declined to deploy or left Iraq because of their
security concerns.

This last problem raises an important concern. Contractors who did not
deliver - because of issues ranging from staffing difficulties to higher
than expected insurance premiums - left American troops with less support
than they enjoyed in past wars. When our soldiers were still eating field
rations and lacked running water, months after the president's infamous
aircraft carrier landing, the blame fell on an overreliance on contractors.
Contractors are not within the chain of command and thus cannot be ordered
into combat zones.

The same problems cross over into the Enron-like attitude toward financial
costs. While one of the rationales for outsourcing military functions is
cost savings, the evidence is either absent or limited. Even as we set
greater goals for future outsourcing, we do not know if we are actually
saving money.

However, we do know that contracts have often been awarded with limited or
no free market competition, and frequently to politically connected firms.
For example, the US Army logistics contract was expanded to employ
Halliburton to run the oil services part of Iraqi reconstruction - without
competitive bid. So far, more than $1 billion in added revenue has gone to
Vice President Cheney's old firm, in which he has continuing financial

Better standards and accounting must be used in our military outsourcing
decisions. Two core questions must always be asked: First, is it in our best
national security and public interest to privatize? Second, how can we
ensure that privatization will save money? Unfortunately, our CEO-filled
defense leadership has forgotten Economics 101. It has outsourced first and
not even bothered to ask questions later.

In sum, we have a distortion of the free market that would shock Adam Smith,
an interface between business and government that would awe the Founding
Fathers, and a shift in the military-industrial complex that must have
President Eisenhower rolling in his grave. Without change, this is a recipe
for bad policy, and bad business.

P.W. Singer is national security fellow at The Brookings Institution and
author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Private Military Industry."


The Scotsman, 14th October

US forces in Iraq have captured one of the most senior members of Ansar
al-Islam, an extremist group suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's
al Qaida network, US defence officials said today.

The arrest of Aso Hawleri, also known as Asad Muhammad Hasan, late last week
in the northern city of Mosul has not been announced. Larry Di Rita, chief
spokesman for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, told reporters: "I'm not in
a position to confirm" Hawleri's capture.

Hawleri was taken by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, a defence
official, adding that the capture netted a number of other people besides
Hawleri, but there apparently was not a gunfight.

No other details were immediately available.

The officials said Hawleri is thought to be the third-ranking official in
Ansar al-Islam, most of whose fighters were believed to have fled their
stronghold in northern Iraq before US forces invaded in March. US and
Kurdish forces destroyed the group's main base in the early weeks of the

Ansar had taken control of a slice of the Kurdish-controlled area near the
Iranian border, enforcing a version of Islam only slightly less stringent
than the Taliban in Afghanistan in mountain strongholds outside areas of
Iraq controlled by government forces.

In an analytical report in December 2001, Iraq expert Michael Rubin of the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote that Hawleri had led the
Second Soran Unit, the largest single military unit within an Iraqi
opposition group called the Islamic Unity Movement.

In 2001 the Second Soran Unit merged with the Tawhid Islamic Front to form
Jund al-Islam, later called Ansar al-Islam, according to Mr Rubin, who says
the group received funds from bin Laden and trained in Afghanistan.

Tactics of Ansar have included suicide bombings, car bombs, assassinations
and raids on militiamen and politicians of the secular Kurdish government.
The group has killed scores of people over the last two years.

US officials say Ansar sent about a dozen people through al Qaida camps in
Afghanistan in 1999 and 2000 and experimented with biotoxin ricin in 2002.

In late August, Army General John Abizaid, overall commander in Iraq, told
reporters that elements of Ansar al-Islam had migrated south into the
Baghdad area and presented an increased terrorist threat.

It remains unclear whether Ansar played a role in any of the recent bombings
in Iraq, including the August 19 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad
that killed 22 people.

Ansar's spiritual leader, Mullah Krekar, was taken into custody in the
Netherlands in September 2002 and later was deported to Norway. He was
released from a Norwegian jail last April after a court found insufficient
grounds to hold him on terrorism charges. Police dropped the charges in
July, but are investigating him on allegations he financed terrorist

Dawn, 17th October
[Thursday 16th October]

KIRKUK, Iraq, Oct 16: A car exploded near the headquarters of the US-led
coalition forces in the northern city of Kirkuk late on Thursday, according
to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

There was no word on casualties. A car with three men inside stopped in
front of the coalition headquarters in Al-Wassity neighbourhood, in the
south of Kirkuk. US troops opened fire on the car which sped off before
stopping about 200 yards away from the headquarters.

The three men then stepped out of the car and fled before the vehicle
exploded seconds later. The vehicle was in flames when US forces backed by
Humvees and armoured vehicles cordoned the area and closed the road. A
second smaller explosion from the car occurred a short time later.

It was not clear if the explosions were caused by explosive charges, hand
grenades or ammunition inside the car. Colonel Khattab Abdel Aref, director
of the Kirkuk emergency police forces, told AFP that his men were prevented
from approaching the scene by US troops.

"We do not have details about the incident, except that we heard an
explosion," he said. Earlier on Thursday, the coalition headquarters in
Kurkuk was the target of an attack, apparently by at least seven mortar
rounds, an AFP correspondent said.

Also in Kirkuk, one US soldier was wounded on Thursday when an explosive
charge blew up as he was putting up road blocks near a US army position,
witnesses told AFP.

FOUR KILLED: A taxi-driver and his three fellow Jordanian passengers were
killed in Baghdad early on Thursday as US troops opened fire after their car
failed to stop at a checkpoint, his taxi firm here said.

Driver Ali Imad Abdel Khader was leaving the Iraqi capital headed for Amman
when the incident took place, Said Mohammad of the company Abul Ezz told

"When the car reached the outskirts of Baghdad at around five in the morning
it came under fire from American troops at the checkpoint which caused it to
spin out of control and crash into an armoured vehicle," he said.

"The four men were killed on the spot," said Mohammad, quoting other
taxi-drivers who witnessed the incident and were driving in convoy for extra

He said the driver "probably did not see the American checkpoint in the dark
and didn't stop", causing the soldiers to open fire. In Baghdad, US military
officials said they had information on the incident but were investigating.

An Iraqi suicide car bomber was gunned down by security agents on Thursday
before he could blow up the interior ministry building in the northern city
of Arbil, an official from the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) said.

"An Iraqi in a Toyota carrying more than 100 kilograms of TNT sped towards
the interior ministry building around 12:35 pm (0935 GMT) before trying to
activate the explosives," Karim Singari, the KDP's interior minister, told

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 43, 16 October 2003

A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside the Turkish Embassy in
Baghdad on 14 October, killing himself and injuring two embassy workers,
international media reported. AP reported that hospital officials said as
many as 13 were wounded in the incident. Preventive security measures
implemented in recent days at the embassy likely protected embassy employees
from sustaining serious injury or death, U.S. officials in Baghdad said.

In Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin told reporters on 14
October, "I think that this attack is not an attack specially staged against
Turkey and [the] Turkish Embassy," Anatolia news agency reported. Meanwhile,
the news agency quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as telling
reporters outside the Organization of the Islamic Conference's annual summit
in Malaysia on 14 October, "This incident has once more showed the need for
contributions of everybody to the settlement of stability and security in
Iraq." The Turkish National Assembly voted last week to contribute up to
10,000 troops to peacekeeping efforts in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 43, 16 October 2003

Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum and Nabil al-Musawi, an aide to
Iraqi National Congress head and Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi,
escaped an assassination attempt in Baghdad on 12 October, the Saudi Press
Agency reported on 13 October.

The incident occurred in the Mansur district of Baghdad when unidentified
gunmen opened fire on a convoy of five vehicles transporting the two men.
"The two men were traveling in the same car in a five-vehicle convoy when
the motorcade came under fire from a speeding car," an unidentified source
told (Kathleen Ridolfo)

by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
The Independent, 20th October

Two American soldiers were killed and one wounded in an ambush near the oil
city of Kirkuk as armed resistance to the US occupation gathered strength in
northern Iraq.

The deaths brought to 103 the number of US soldiers killed in hostile fire
in Iraq since President George Bush declared major combat over on 1 May.

In Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, gunmen attacked a US military convoy
yesterday morning, setting a truck carrying ammunition ablaze and setting
off a series of explosions. The gunmen fired on American soldiers caught in
the blast, who returned fire.

The explosions sent burning shrapnel and plumes of black smoke into the air.
Six wounded Iraqis were taken to hospital in Fallujah, one of whom later
died, hospital officials said.

Young Iraqis danced in celebration by the road as the ammunition detonated
and drivers honked their horns to show approval of the attack.

Fallujah, on the road to Jordan, is notorious for its support for the
resistance and has been the scene of many ambushes.

US troops who approached the blazing vehicles, believed to be two Humvees
and a truck, were fired on by rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and machine
guns, said witnesses. "Shells were flying everywhere like fireworks," said
Khalil al-Qubaise, a shopkeeper.

The ambush in Kirkuk, 160 miles north of Baghdad, happened at 10.45pm on
Saturday night when a patrol in vehicles was attacked with RPGs and small
arms fire, an American spokesman said. A few hours later another attack with
grenades and machine-guns on US troops near Hawija, west of Kirkuk, ended
with five Iraqis killed. Another five men were arrested after a brief
firefight north of Baiji, near Kirkuk.

Until a month ago, Kirkuk - captured by the Kurds in the war, and ethnically
divided between Kurds, Arabs and Turkomans - had seen few military actions
against US troops. But incidents are now almost daily amid signs that the
resistance in Sunni-Muslim northern Iraq is becoming better co-ordinated and
is extending its reach.

The US army in Iraq appears to be road bound, sending vehicles on patrol
which are proving vulnerable to attacks by RPGs and bombs concealed in or
beside the road.

A foreign military observer who saw the aftermath of a bomb attack on a US
convoy on the road west of Baghdad on Saturday which killed one US soldier
noted that "it was very professionally staged with the middle vehicle in the
convoy exactly targeted".

Kerbala, where three US soldiers, including a colonel commanding a military
police battalion, were killed late on Thursday night, was calm yesterday. US
tanks had withdrawn from the centre of the city, which is holy to Shia
Muslims. But the main road into it was blocked by Polish troops and the city
could only be reached by a winding country road through groves of date

Ali, an Iraqi policeman, who said he was with the US patrol when the
fighting started, said that Lieutenant Colonel Kim Orlando had just spoken
to the senior Shia cleric about his armed guard being on the street after
the 9pm curfew when one of the guards suddenly opened fire without orders.
Lt Col Orlando was killed immediately as were two Iraqi policemen who were
with him.


Toronto Star, from AP, 20th October

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Assailants ambushed a U.S. army foot patrol outside
Fallujah at midday today, killing one American and wounding five others in
the second day of attacks in this anti-U.S. hotbed, the military reported.
Two civilians also were killed.


The U.S. patrol near Fallujah was first hit by an exploding homemade bomb,
and then by small-arms fire, the military said. Americans then raided a
nearby mosque in an apparent search for the attackers and detained three

The bodies of two civilians were taken to a Fallujah hospital. Doctors said
one of the dead was a Syrian truck driver who had been hauling cement from
Lebanon to Baghdad when he was caught in the attack.

Two civilian trucks were damaged, one left dangling on a bridge, apparently
from what witnesses said was a rocket-propelled grenade strike.

The attack occurred about 20 metres from the main bridge leading into
Fallujah from Baghdad, 55 kilometres to the east, when about 30 soldiers on
foot, accompanied by five Humvees, were on patrol along the highway.

This was the same general area where a U.S. army ammunition truck, part of a
convoy, broke down on the main road Sunday and came under attack. That truck
and possibly two other vehicles apparently were hit by rocket-propelled
grenades. Dozens of Iraqi youths danced and cheered as the vehicles went up
in flames.

A witness said the U.S. soldiers fired in a circular motion as they tried to
leave. Five civilians were wounded and one died later of shrapnel wounds, a
spokesperson for Fallujah General Hospital said. The U.S. command said there
were no American casualties Sunday.


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