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(202) 362-5266 - 29 June 2004 - MER@MiddleEast.Org
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Upcoming from MER "Washington Scene":
Muslim American "leadership" goes from awful to worse

America's Baghdad
Corruption, Barricades, Boozing, and Fear

Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 29 June 2004:
The Americans will continue to heavily propagandize otherwise, but the realities of the situation in Iraq are actually these:
* Paul Bremer's Pentagon-controlled neocon 'Coalition Provisional Authority' was a disaster and Bremer took the opportunity to run from it as quickly as he could.
* The new 'interim government' is a puppet regime nearly totally dependent on the U.S. military and CIA for whatever power it has and with a long time CIA operative now installed as Prime Minister.
* The 'terrorists' are primarily Iraqi 'insurgents' with considerable indigenous support determined to undermine the ongoing American occupation.
* The fiction of Saddam Hussein's 'turnover' parallels the fiction of the 'return of Iraqi sovereignty'.
* The Americans are planning to put in more military force to control Iraq, not less, and to prepare for possible conflict next year both to the east and to the west.
* The largest CIA station in the world has now been established in Baghdad with covert U.S. and Arab agents seeded throughout the 'new Iraq'.
* More than a dozen major U.S. military bases are being established in a permanent form throughout the country.
* The cost of the invasion/occupation has been far greater in all ways than was originally forecast; in money alone likely to exceed $200 billion by the end of the year.
The following article -
City awash with tales of corruption and cronyism - is published in Wednesday's Independent in the U.K.

SOME OF THE NUMBERS AFTER 425 DAYS OF AMERICAN RULE
FOLLOWING 42 DAYS OF DECLARED WARFARE

The death toll

855 US servicemen

60 UK servicemen

58 other Allied servicemen

2,500 Iraqi soldiers (estimated March/April 2003)

11,300 Iraqi civilians (estimate from anti-war research)

104 civilian contractors

21 journalists

(During previous decade of U.S. "sanctions" and "no fly zones"
500,000 children under age 10 dead and estimates run as high as 1.5 million Iraqis dead who otherwise would have been alive.)

The bill

$150+bn: total cost to US ($3,500+ for each US family)

6bn: total cost to UK (250 for each UK family)

The political impact

George Bush's approval rating (Washington Post/ABC News)

76%: March 2003

46%: June 2004

Tony Blair: the best PM? (Telegraph/Yougov)

36% March 2003

30% June 2004

Oil production

300,000 barrels/day: May 2003

1.9m: June 2004

2.8-3m: estimated pre-war

Electricity

Nationwide:

3,193MW: June 2003

4,000: June 2004

4,400: estimated pre-war

Unemployment

50-56%: June 2003

28-45%: May 2004

1% of Iraq's workforce of 7 million is involved in reconstruction projects

Security forces

7,000-9,000: May 2003

83,789: June 2004, (32% partly or fully trained)

U.S. Credibility and Standing in the world?

All time low.


City awash with tales of corruption and cronyism

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad

The Independent, UK, 30 June 2004: Soon after the fall of Baghdad last year, an Iraqi working for a US organisation found that the private American security company under contract to the Pentagon to protect him showed decreasing interest in his safety. He discovered the reason was that his guards had become arms dealers.

The Iraqi, a returned exile, was living in a house in the Green Zone, the heavily fortified US headquarters in the centre of Baghdad. It was formerly Saddam Hussein's headquarters. The security company guards had discovered caches of valuable high-quality weapons abandoned by his presidential guard. "They were taking the weapons and storing them in our house before selling them," complained the returned exile. "There were so many explosives there that I did not even dare smoke in the house and I am a chain smoker." He and a companion took photographs of the heaps of weaponry and later showed them to officials in the Pentagon but they were not interested.

Baghdad is awash with stories of the corruption, cronyism and incompetence of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which was dissolved this week.

Many of its officials were in Iraq because they were ideological neo-conservatives or were simply well connected to the Republican Party or the White House.

Some were paid astonishing salaries. Ahmed al-Rikaby, in charge of re-establishing Iraqi television, discovered that he was to be assisted by three Iraqi-American media advisers paid $21,000 (11,600) a month. He recalls: "They had no expertise and never helped me or anybody else." They got the jobs because they had influential friends in the Pentagon.

US officials were extraordinarily arrogant. Few things mattered more to American credibility in Iraq than restoring the electricity supply.

Ordinary Iraqis are infuriated by the continuing black-outs. They repeatedly ask why the nation which could send a man to the moon cannot supply Baghdad with more than 12 hours of electricity a day. "The Americans tried to do everything themselves and they failed," says Raad al-Haref, the deputy Electricity Minister. "We had to renegotiate with all our foreign suppliers through American companies and this took about eight months."

Iraqis often say they were astonished by the level of cronyism in Washington's appointments. Privatisation was a high priority for the US administrator, Paul Bremer. But his chief aide in developing the private sector was a Republican businessman from Connecticut called Thomas Foley who was an assiduous fund-raiser for his party but otherwise had little experience useful in Iraq.

The CPA might also, given the political background of its senior members and their ideological commitment to private enterprise, be expected to have encouraged the reopening of the Baghdad stock exchange. In fact it remained shut for over a year at the insistence of the CPA, though an Iraqi stockbroker Hussain Kubba said: "There was no reason it should not have opened soon after the war."

One of the main reasons the stock exchange, which used to employ 5,000 people, stayed shut could be that the CPA had appointed a 24-year-old Republican to oversee it. He had originally applied for a political job at the White House and had, so far as the Iraqis who dealt with him could see, very limited knowledge of stock exchanges. Mr Kubba says that what happened to the Baghdad stock exchange "shows the miserable performance of the CPA as a whole and how brilliantly Iraqis can do things when they are allowed to". He adds proudly that as soon as Iraqis were put back in control they were able to reopen the stock exchange in a few weeks.

Many CPA officials spent short but remunerative tours in Iraq. Others, surprisingly, have returned, evidently smelling money still to be made. Mr Kubba says: "They think they can use the connections they built up before and the fact that they are Americans."


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June 2004


Magazine






About the new MiddleEast.Org
(June 30, 2004)


U.S. Ordered Brits to Attack Iran - Brits Balked
(June 30, 2004)
The order was given in secret by the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, who was already scheduled to be replaced, quite likely because of his involvement in the horrendous Iraqi torture scandal. But anyone who thinks General Sanchez gave the order without checking first with his neocon bosses back at the Pentagon -- Wolfowitz and Feith, who then of course check with Rumsfeld who then tells the President, Condi, and Colin -- just doesn't understand even at this late date how the invasion/occupation of Iraq came about nor how the Pentagon planning has been progressing for Iran, Syria, North Korea, just as soon as the excuses can be managed.

Bush and U.S. Exposed - book by book by book
(June 30, 2004)
This list of books exposing the Bush presidency for what it really is all about is an essential corrective to all the propaganda and TV clips constantly bombarding the American people... In many ways though some of these books are more significant, however in a TV/Movie age even collectively they will not have the same impact though they do help set a climate for skepticism and anxiety. This particular list was compiled a few months ago by USA Today so it's hardly complete at this point. But it is a good starting place for those wanting to choose a little holiday reading, however depressive, sometimes shocking, surely politically and historically depressing.

America's Baghdad - Corruption, Barricades, Boozing, Fear and Incompetence
(June 29, 2004)
Baghdad is awash with stories of the corruption, cronyism and incompetence of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which was dissolved this week.

Brits Departed Palestine Leaving Civil War - MER FlashBack
(June 29, 2004)
"Contrary to contemporary assertions, the British and the Americans have done far more to prevent democracy in the Middle East, and to inhibit independent economic development as well, then they will ever admit."

Bremer Slinks Away; CIA Slinks Forward
(June 28, 2004)
Thus now Bremer hastily and rather shamefully slinks away without much fanfare, a few days early so they say, even as Iraq continues to seeth in hatred and a slow-simmer civil war.

Baghdad Shuffle
(June 28, 2004)
It's historic alright. A huge historic bungle that is quite literally exploding in their faces as they try to appear to go but actually stay with their carefully chosen Iraqi faces now out front. Over the weekend on ABC News one of the neocon political commentators made a little mistake and clearly called the American-appointed 'interim Iraqi Prime Minister' a "CIA agent" -- it was a rare moment of candor in public in today's confused, uptight, and secretive Washington.

Kurds on 'the return' - Palestinians into ghettos
(June 27, 2004)
Substitute "Palestinians" for Kurds, and "Israelis" for Arabs, and there is a whole different twist to 'the return' of the Kurds featured in this front-page New York Times article last Sunday. Another great irony of our times is that even as the Americans and the Israelis help facilitate what the Kurds are doing in Iraq they demand the Palestinians give up their 'right of return' even though it is enshrined in many U.N. Security Council resolutions going back to 1947...

Worst Crisis Since WWII?
(June 26, 2004)
"the most foolhardy civilian leadership in the modern history of the United States." (Newsweek) "A vacuum has opened up at the heart of world politics where US leadership ought to be found." (Financial Times) "The unpalatable truth is that the Bush administration has failed in almost everything it has touched."

The Historical Moment - MER Flashback Four Years
(June 25, 2004)
MER FLASHBACK to 25 June 2001: Months before what is now known as "9/11" MER published these articles indicating that a major strike by Osama Bin-Laden against the U.S. was imminent and that the Israelis were more determined than ever to subjugate the Palestinians. We wrote at the time: "In these conditions any spark can ignite the blaze; and sometimes such giant fires consume more than was originally anticipated, sometimes even those who start them."

BBC Hired by British Government to Broadcast TV to Middle East
(June 24, 2004)


More Readers' Comments from Around the World
(June 24, 2004)
Just some of the many Readers's Comments continually pouring in to MER from around the world.

Thank you for previewing the new MiddleEast.Org
(June 23, 2004)


Cheney and Rumseld "linked to murder" of CIA scientist in cold war years
(June 23, 2004)
Secret documents have revealed US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld are "linked to the murder" of a senior CIA scientist.

It's Now the Second Half of 1948
(June 23, 2004)
As always Professor Tanya Reinhart from Tel Aviv University writes with extraordinary insight. "...the Israeli military and political leadership are aiming, eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority, and, with it, the process of Oslo, which is now dominantly considered by them a 'historical mistake'."

Information Warfare - Israel Wins Big
(June 22, 2004)
For 10 years Tim Llewellyn was the BBC's Middle East correspondent. In this passionately argued polemic he accuses British broadcasters, including his former employer, of systematic bias in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict, giving undue prominence to the views of the Israelis while all but disregarding the roots of the crisis and what is being done to the Palestinians.

Gearing Up for IRAN and North Korea
(June 21, 2004)
"...waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the United States to confront more immediate dangers.... Because our military is stretched so thin in Iraq, we cannot threaten military action in Iran or North Korea." Martin Peretz and The New Republic

REVOLT in WASHINGTON
(June 20, 2004)


Nader Speaks to Buchanon
(June 15, 2004)
He's going after the real conservative vote, so he says.

Crusade II - Reagan first brought the neocons to power
(June 09, 2004)
Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Bush...and the list goes on. Those who have recently led the crusade to invade Iraq, subjugate the Palestinians, and fight Islam, were brought to power in Washington for the first time some 23 years ago when Ronald Reagan of the once far-right was victorious over Jimmy Carter of the once mid-left in American politics. And some now forget that the man who greatly helped bring Ronald Reagan to power was none other than George Herbert Walker Bush, former head of the CIA, who now became Vice-President for the next eight years and then himself succeeded Reagan as President in 1989.

Realities of the "Reagan Plan" for the Middle East
(June 06, 2004)
The seeds for the Intifada and for Israel's increasingly aggressive escalating occupation of and dispossession of the Palestinian people were sown in the years of the Reagan Presidency. Indeed it was Ronald Reagan who first brought what we today call the "neocons" to power in Washington, and the right-wing Republicans who forged such a close alliance with the Israeli Likud of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon which had come to power in Israel in 1977 for the first time.




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