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[casi] USAToday: Cash for Iraqi public works runs dry


Days after the absorption of Oil-for-Food by the CPA, there's been a glitch in
an unrelated supply-chain: discretionary cash for Iraqi reconstruction.
USAToday is reporting that discretionary reconstruction budgets for frontline
commanders has temporarily run dry, with accounts to be replenished next month.

As a frustrated CPA official told the New Yorker earlier in a similar context
(see Nathaniel Hurd's 11/24 post): "To do reconstruction, you need to have the
ability to deliver resources right away ... People in a desperate situation need

Also included below is a link to an AP report of a protest resignation by an
Italian official, citing CPA 'incompetence'.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA


Cash for public works runs dry in Iraq at bad time
By Steven Komarow, USA TODAY
Posted 11/24/2003 8:58 PM     Updated 11/24/2003 9:00 PM
Print Edition: 11/25/2003

BAGHDAD  Money that the Army uses to hire Iraqis to repair roads, sewers and
small civic projects has run dry, forcing frontline commanders to suspend a
critical part of their campaign to win public support.

"It is a tough pill to swallow," says Col. Ralph Baker, commander of the 2nd
Brigade of the 1st Armored Division.

"One of the hardest things I deal with right now is coming face to face with the
(Iraqi) contractors who we still owe money."

The problem is temporary and the U.S. government expects to replenish the
accounts next month. But commanders say the timing couldn't be worse, hurting
America's credibility and its ability to win over Iraqis.

Attacks on U.S. soldiers have increased in recent weeks. The U.S. military
responded with the heaviest air and artillery attacks since President Bush
declared major combat operations over May 1.

But officers say winning over the population is just as important to efforts to
defeat the insurgency.

By fixing sewers, schools and power lines, they show that the United States
wants to make life better for Iraqis.

"Money is our ammo," says Col. Joseph Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade of
the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. "We had many plans based on good faith,
and people expect results. We are now having to explain why we can't follow

Money for the community-projects program came from assets seized from Saddam
Hussein's ousted regime. Paul Bremer, the chief administrator of Iraq, gave
military commanders authority to spend about $170 million out of $900 million
under his control.

With so much of Iraq in poor condition, commanders found that the funds were
warmly received. In some cases, the military let the U.S.-created neighborhood
councils set spending priorities in an effort to promote democracy and
self-sufficiency. The money went too fast. When it began to run out, there was
no quick way to replenish it.

The Pentagon asked Congress to continue the effort. And about $180 million is
included in the supplemental spending bill recently signed by Bush. Army Col.
Mike Toner, a finance officer for the coalition, says money should be flowing
again next month.

But Baker worries that "we're losing some momentum on what we're doing here."

It's not just repairs, he says; it's trust that pays off. He points with pride
at how local citizens helped his brigade track down members of a terrorist cell
that rocketed the Al Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad on Oct. 26, killing an Army

U.S. aircraft pound insurgent positions in central Iraq

... excerpt ...
On Monday, the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the resignation of an Italian
official of the U.S.-led coalition, who accused the occupation authorities of

"The provisional authority simply doesn't work," the Italian daily Corriere
della Sera quoted Marco Calamai, a special counselor of the Coalition
Provisional Authority, as saying. "Reconstruction projects that were promised
and financed have had practically no results."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, asked about the resignation, said
the coalition authority has made "excellent progress" in several areas,
including "the physical reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration of services to
Iraqi people, the beginnings of political authority among the Iraqi ministers
and now an accelerated path to political authority."
... end excerpt ...

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