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Middle East

Fleecing Iraq

Abu al-Hasan al-Mqawtir, Al-Daawa (organ of the Shiite Daawa party), Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 27, 2004

An Iraqi man sits outside a cafe on Eid al-Adha
An Iraqi man sits outside a Baghdad cafe, Feb. 3, 2004 (Photo: Sabah Arar/AFP-Getty Images).
It’s hard to know what the U.S. and British occupiers’ real political, military, and security intentions are. Nobody knows whether their intentions are good, as they claim, or bad, as others claim. But the real litmus test of their intentions is their handling of Iraq’s economic affairs.

Willy-nilly, the occupiers sought to secure economic targets [in the war], in addition to political and military targets.

As far as the economy is concerned, occupied Iraq’s experience over the last eight months proved beyond any doubt that the occupiers had bad intentions in invading Iraq. This is clearly seen in the exclusion of Iraqis from economic decision-making. Even when Iraqis do participate, they are only allowed a token, superficial role. You could call it throwing dust in the eyes.

The reason behind this is obvious. Iraqis disagree over political, social, and cultural issues. But they fully agree on economic issues—especially if they have clear ideas as to how Iraq’s economy should be managed so that Iraq’s interests are put first.

We notice that since April 9, 2003, Iraqis, other than those with a double loyalty, have been shut out of economic decision-making. They have been excluded even from the discussions about the most important aspects of the Iraqi economy: the foreign investment laws that govern banks, privatizing Iraqi state enterprises, and international conferences to discuss basic problems, such as the [October 2003] Madrid Donor Conference and the [June 2003] World Economic Forum Meeting in Amman. The discussion at most of these conferences, especially those held inside Iraq, operated according to the new and strange principle of democracy as practiced by the occupiers: You say what you like and we do what we like.

The occupiers’ two major aims are to loot all of Iraq’s national wealth and to control conflicts in the world by controlling Iraqi oil, which is one of the largest reserves in the world. These two aims require that Iraqis be excluded from the economic decision-making process even if they are the least patriotic Iraqis available.

Iraqi economists...are highly qualified. They would prove themselves capable of managing Iraq’s economy if they were given a chance.

Here we must remember a very important point: Some Iraqi economists, mainly those who spent decades abroad and who could be accused of having double loyalties, have participated in one way or another in making economic decisions for the Coalition Provisional Authority. They falsely believe that economists from inside Iraq, like those in former socialist countries, were brainwashed by socialism and know nothing of economics but what was planted in their brains according to their ruler’s philosophy.

To them we say: If we were to conduct a survey of Iraqis with doctoral degrees in economics, we would find that more than 90 percent of them graduated from Western universities. And if we were to conduct a survey of economics curricula in Iraqi universities, we would find that these curricula are the same as those used in the West. The idea that Iraqi economists have been brainwashed by destructive and chauvinist ideas is a product of the imaginations of those who have double loyalties.

Frankly, the solution is in the hands of those Iraqis who know their country best. Iraq should be built according to the principle that Iraq’s wealth is for Iraqis.

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