Privatisation of Iraq - Times (London) today

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Privatisation of Iraq - Times (London) today

Postby edge of darkness » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:50 am

My sadness at the privatisation of Iraq<br>Michael Meacher <br>The US transnational companies are taking over and they'll benefit for years to come<br> <br> <br> <br>IF DEMOCRACY is the goal of American policy in Iraq, as President Bush repeatedly says it is — not eliminating WMD, not controlling Middle East oil, not removing a dictator guilty of genocide — then with the Sunni walkout from government and Kurdish intransigence over federalism and Kirkuk, that policy is nearing breakdown. But democracy was always only an after-thought, and anyway never really on offer in the first place. <br>Before the US proconsul Paul Bremer left Baghdad, he enacted 100 orders as chief of the occupation authority in Iraq. Perhaps the most infamous was Order 39 which decreed that 200 Iraqi state companies would be privatised, that foreign companies could have complete control of Iraqi banks, factories and mines, and that these companies could transfer all of their profits out of Iraq. The “reconstruction” of the country amounts in effect to wholesale privatisation of the economy and is little short of economic colonisation. <br><br> <br> <br>These laws will not be reversed while 140,000 US troops remain in the country, or a network of US military bases planned to be retained in Iraq for a much longer period. Aid for rebuilding the electricity and water services, the oil industry, and the legal and security systems will reside with the US Embassy for many years to come. <br><br>If all 100 orders are taken together, they set the overall legal framework for overriding foreign exploitation of Iraq’s domestic market. They cover almost all facets of the economy, including Iraq’s trading regime, the mandate of the Central Bank, and regulations governing trade union activities. Collectively, they lay down the foundations for the real US objective in Iraq, apart from keeping control of the oil supply, namely the imposition of a neoliberal capitalist economy controlled and run by US transnational corporations. <br><br>But what is remarkable about these laws is not only their overall degree of control, but their far-reaching application. Order 81, for example, has the status of binding law over “patent industrial design, undisclosed information, integrated circuits and plant variety” — a degree of detailed supervision normally associated with a Soviet command-and-control economy. While historically the Iraqi Constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. This is virtually a takeover of Iraqi agriculture. <br><br>The rights granted to US plant breeding companies under this order include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the plant varieties covered by intellectual property right for the next 20-25 years. During this extended period nobody can plant or otherwise use plants, trees or vines without compensating the breeder. <br><br>In the name of agricultural reconstruction this new law deprives Iraqi farmers of their inherent right, exercised for the past 10,000 years in the fertile Mesopotamian arc, to save and replant seeds. It enables the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical and other corporate giants that control the global seed trade. Food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has therefore already been made near-impossible by these new regulations. <br><br>This is merely one example of the pervasiveness of the orders left behind by Bremer. But their impact is largely concentrated in the near-monopolisation by US corporations of the economic contracts awarded by the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority. Overwhelmingly they have been allocated to big US companies, notably Bechtel and Halliburton, which happens to be Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former company, sometimes on a secret no-bid basis — such as the contract to repair and operate oil wells awarded to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root. <br><br>Almost no contracts have gone to UK companies, apart from one to repair and rebuild the Baghdad sewage system. For oilfield repairs over a two-year period the contracts have been worth some $7 billion. For the little known and disarmingly entitled Logistics Civil Augmentation Programme, the contracts value is far greater. <br><br>The funding of these massive contracts has largely come from the Iraqi oil revenues expropriated for US corporate use. The oil money is held in the US Federal Reserve, and the US Government is determined to keep control of it under an international board. The US has already spent around half the revenue, mainly on these long-term contracts with their construction companies. Of course John Negroponte, who was then the American Ambassador to Iraq, made clear that these enormous funds will be managed in consultation with the Iraqi Government, but there can be little doubt where the decision-making power will lie. <br><br>Whether this enforced takeover of the economy and imposed privatisation across the board of all the main economic sectors is in accordance with international law is now much disputed. But whether it can be reversed when America holds all the military, political and economic cards is another matter. The only way for the US authorities to sidestep the potential conflict is to ensure that the new Iraqi Government is pliant enough not to press for full sovereignty. Paul Bremer thought of that too. <br><br>His Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) effectively gives the Kurds, the most pro-American section of the population, a veto over the new constitution because the TAL itself states that it can only be amended by a 75 per cent vote in parliament. The Kurds hold more that 25 per cent of the seats.<br> <br> <!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1072-1731547,00.html ">www.timesonline.co.uk/art...7,00.html </a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Meacher'll be heading for a heart-attack if he's not careful ( Labour MP , ex-Minister .) <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Privatisation of Iraq - Times (London) today

Postby slimmouse » Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:34 am

Truly excellent article going into more detail on this ;<br><br> "It was only after I had been in Baghdad for a month that I found what I was looking for. I had traveled to Iraq a year after the war began, at the height of what should have been a construction boom, but after weeks of searching I had not seen a single piece of heavy machinery apart from tanks and humvees. Then I saw it: a construction crane. It was big and yellow and impressive, and when I caught a glimpse of it around a corner in a busy shopping district I thought that I was finally about to witness some of the reconstruction I had heard so much about. But as I got closer I noticed that the crane was not actually rebuilding anything—not one of the bombed-out government buildings that still lay in rubble all over the city, nor one of the many power lines that remained in twisted heaps even as the heat of summer was starting to bear down. No, the crane was hoisting a giant billboard to the top of a three-story building. SUNBULAH: HONEY 100% NATURAL, made in Saudi Arabia. ".....<br><br>The tone of Bremer’s tenure was set with his first major act on the job: he fired 500,000 state workers, most of them soldiers, but also doctors, nurses, teachers, publishers, and printers. Next, he flung open the country’s borders to absolutely unrestricted imports: no tariffs, no duties, no inspections, no taxes. Iraq, Bremer declared two weeks after he arrived, was “open for business.” .....<br><br>A Reagan-era diplomat turned entrepreneur, Bremer had recently proven his ability to transform rubble into gold by waiting exactly one month after the September 11 attacks to launch Crisis Consulting Practice, a security company selling “terrorism risk insurance” to multinationals ( uh huh<!--EZCODE EMOTICON START >D --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/grin.gif ALT=" >D"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> )<br><br>......<br> Immediately after the nominal end of the war, Congress appropriated $2.5 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq, followed by an additional $18.4 billion in October. Yet as of July 2004, Iraq’s state-owned factories had been pointedly excluded from the reconstruction contracts. Instead, the billions have all gone to Western companies, with most of the materials for the reconstruction imported at great expense from abroad. <br><br>With unemployment as high as 67 percent, the imported products and foreign workers flooding across the borders have become a source of tremendous resentment in Iraq and yet another open tap fueling the insurgency. And Iraqis don’t have to look far for reminders of this injustice; it’s on display in the most ubiquitous symbol of the occupation: the blast wall. The ten-foot-high slabs of reinforced concrete are everywhere in Iraq, separating the protected—the people in upscale hotels, luxury homes, military bases, and, of course, the Green Zone—from the unprotected and exposed. If that wasn’t injury enough, all the blast walls are imported, from Kurdistan, Turkey, or even farther afield, this despite the fact that Iraq was once a major manufacturer of cement, and could easily be again. There are seventeen state-owned cement factories across the country, but most are idle or working at only half capacity. According to the Ministry of Industry, not one of these factories has received a single contract to help with the reconstruction, even though they could produce the walls and meet other needs for cement at a greatly reduced cost. The CPA pays up to $1,000 per imported blast wall; local manufacturers say they could make them for $100. Minister Tofiq says there is a simple reason why the Americans refuse to help get Iraq’s cement factories running again: among those making the decisions, “no one believes in the public sector.”[1] .....<br><br> Much much more in the full article :<br><br> <!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0924-13.htm">www.commondreams.org/views04/0924-13.htm</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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one generation-

Postby lilorphant » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:04 pm

That is all it takes to topple the neocon dream. <br><br>Iraq having a large youth population (population pyramid with a wide bottom, ages 0-14, it is a nightmare they are preparing for such a country. The point being that national resources will be in the hands of a few, and the youth will grow up in a situation where many of their peers will be left out of the fruits of real wealth and power. Time and time again foreign ownership of national resources has led to revolution. These kids will never forget the "Democracy" (free-market capitalism) that was crammed down their throats as kids. This is a larger and better version of Chile. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: one generation-

Postby slimmouse » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:20 pm

Just another "coincistance" from the Naomi Klein article I linked to in a previous post ;<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>At first, Plan B seemed to be right on track. Bremer persuaded the Iraqi Governing Council to agree to everything: the new timetable, the interim government, and the interim constitution. He even managed to slip into the constitution a completely overlooked clause, Article 26. It stated that for the duration of the interim government, “The laws, regulations, orders and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority . . . shall remain in force” and could only be changed after general elections are held. <br><br>Bremer had found his legal loophole: There would be a window—seven months—when the occupation was officially over but before general elections were scheduled to take place. Within this window, the Hague and Geneva Conventions’ bans on privatization would no longer apply, but Bremer’s own laws, thanks to Article 26, would stand. During these seven months, foreign investors could come to Iraq and sign forty-year contracts to buy up Iraqi assets. If a future elected Iraqi government decided to change the rules, investors could sue for compensation. <br><br>But Bremer had a formidable opponent: Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq. al Sistani tried to block Bremer’s plan at every turn, calling for immediate direct elections and for the constitution to be written after those elections, not before. Both demands, if met, would have closed Bremer’s privatization window. Then, on March 2, with the Shia members of the Governing Council refusing to sign the interim constitution, five bombs exploded in front of mosques in Karbala and Baghdad, killing close to 200 worshipers. General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, warned that the country was on the verge of civil war. Frightened by this prospect, al Sistani backed down and the Shia politicians signed the interim constitution. It was a familiar story: the shock of a violent attack paved the way for more shock therapy.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--> <br><br> Starman talks much about the methodology of US democracy - extortion, murder, blackmail etc. I can always remember at the time wondering what on earth the Iraquis were thinking of exploding bombs outside mosques. Sure enough, those with the real motive for such crime are revealed in the quote.<br><br> P2OG with a slant anyone ? <p></p><i></i>
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