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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Iraq Not Free to Choose Economic Structure

As this article notes, the economic structure of Iraq is not on the table in negotiations over the new constitution.  It will be according to U.S. wishes:

Bush's economic invasion of Iraq, by Antonia Juhasz, LA Times: On Monday, Iraq's National Assembly will release a draft constitution to be voted on … in two months. Since February, vital issues have been debated  … the role of Islamic law, the rights of women, the autonomy of the Kurds and the participation of the minority Sunnis.  But what hasn't been on the table is … the country's economic structure.

The Bush administration has succeeded in maintaining a stranglehold on issues such as public versus private ownership of resources, foreign access to Iraqi oil and U.S. control of the reconstruction effort — all of which are still governed by administration policies put into place immediately after the invasion. The Bush economic agenda favors foreign interests — American interests — over Iraqi self-determination.  Over a year ago, orders were put in place by L. Paul Bremer III, then the U.S. administrator of Iraq, that were designed to "transition [Iraq] from a … centrally planned economy to a market economy" virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat. … Laws governing banking, investment, patents, copyrights, business ownership, taxes, the media and trade have all been changed according to U.S. goals, with little real participation from the Iraqi people. … The constitutional drafting committee has, in turn, left each of these laws in place.

A central component of the Bush economic agenda is foreign corporate access to, and privatization of, Iraq's once state-run economy. Thus, an early Bremer order allowed foreign investment in and the privatization of all 192 government-owned industries (excluding oil extraction). … Oil is, of course, at the heart of the agenda. In 2004, U.S.-appointed interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi submitted guidelines to Iraq's Supreme Council for Oil Policy suggesting that … the [Iraq National Oil Company] be partly privatized in the future" and opened to international foreign investment, according to International Oil Daily. … The U.S.-appointed interim Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi explained that the new law would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies." A few weeks later, Mehdi became one of Iraq's two vice presidents and Allawi was elected to the National Assembly. Iraq's new oil law is on track for implementation in 2006.

Finally, consider Iraq's reconstruction, which also remains firmly under U.S. control. One of Bremer's orders denied the Iraqi government the ability to give preference to Iraqis in the reconstruction effort. Instead, more than 150 U.S. companies were awarded contracts totaling more than $50 billion, more than twice the GDP of Iraq. Halliburton has the largest, worth more than $11 billion, while 13 other U.S. companies are earning more than $1.5 billion each. … By all accounts, the draft constitution has failed to provide Iraqis with the means to control their economic future. … Just as discussions are finally emerging for ending the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, so too must the economic invasion be brought to an end.

    Posted by on Sunday, August 14, 2005 at 04:14 AM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (9)

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