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Qtec
10-13-2003, 08:24 AM
The carve up begins.


[ QUOTE ]
Spoils of war

US plans to sell off Iraqi businesses are simply the modern equivalent of pillage, says Brian Whitaker

Monday October 13, 2003

For centuries, pillage by invading armies was a normal part of warfare: a way in which to reward badly-paid or unpaid troops for risking their lives in battle.
Nowadays, at least in more civilised countries, we do not let armies rampage for booty. We leave the pillaging to men in suits, and we don't call it pillaging any more. We call it economic development.

Today, the men in suits are gathering at Olympia, in London, for a two-day conference and exhibition entitled Doing Business in Iraq. Protesters will be gathering outside.

The event, which is sponsored by the US-Iraq business council, is one of a series being held in different parts of the world over the coming 12 months (another will take place in Moscow in December), culminating in a grand spoils of war exhibition in Baghdad towards the end of next year.

According to the organisers, speakers at the London conference will include several US government officials as well as a representative from Trade Partners UK, the British government's export promotion department.

This fits in neatly with plans announced in June by Paul Bremer, the head of Iraq's provisional authority, to sell off the country's state-owned industries (excluding, for the time being, oil, gas and minerals) and turn it into a US-style capitalist wonderland.

Last month, Mr Bremer issued CPA order number 39, giving foreign investors unrestricted rights to establish businesses in Iraq and/or buy up Iraqi companies.

The order also allows foreign investors to repatriate profits, dividends, interest and royalties immediately and in full. In other words, they can make a fast buck if they want to, without putting anything back.

While few would disagree that Iraq's industry needs modernisation and restructuring, two questions arise: has Mr Bremer the legal powers to do this, and is he going about it in the right way?


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A McDonalds in Baghdad?

Q