Sunday, July 18, 2004

Foreigners not welcome in Iraq.

The Phillipines have announced they are pulling their small contingent of troops out of Iraq in responce to the kidnapping of one of their nationals. This was the demand of the kidnappers.

When Spain pulled out, so went the South American countries, the Russians have pulled their workers out and on it goes.

From the Financial Times from July 18:

"...the Thai military said that it had begun withdrawing its 450-strong force ahead of a September deadline after receiving no order to extend its mission.

Aside from the gradual whittling away of the US-led coalition, one result is that Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, has appealed to non-neighbouring Muslim countries to contribute troops and help the reconstruction effort. Only Yemen and Jordan have hinted that they may be prepared to contribute.

Another is that Iraq's roads remain no-go zones. Highways immediately south and west of Baghdad are particular danger-areas, as are the roads around Mosul, the big city of the north."

This all is hindering reconstruction which is at a virtual standstill.

This is from last year on the importing of foreign workers, also from the Financial Times:

Published on Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Contractors in Iraq Accused of Importing Labor and Exporting Profit

US sub-contractors are importing cheap migrant labor from south Asia to Iraq, despite high local unemployment and complaints from Iraqi contractors that they are being overlooked by the US-led administration in Baghdad.

US officials in the Iraqi capital say that six months into their occupation of Iraq, security conditions have forced companies to turn to south Asian lab our to implement contracts, from prison-building to catering for US troops.

"We don't want to overlook Iraqis, but we want to protect ourselves," says Colonel Damon Walsh, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority's procurement office. "From a force protection standpoint, Iraqis are more vulnerable to a bad guy influence."

US troops and some companies under contract to the US government nevertheless seem prepared to take the "risk".

Iraqis form the bulk of the workforce for reconstructing Iraq's prisons. General Janis Karpinski [Of Abu Ghraib], who is overseeing the prison program, says she has had "no single security incident" involving Iraqi contractors.

"You find other [non-Iraq] nationalities in out-of-the-way corners taking 15 minute naps," she says. "Iraqis see work as a way of getting the country on its feet."

But a number of businesses based in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have contracts to supply the US army are wary of employing indigenous labor.

"Iraqis are a security threat," says a Pakistani manager in Baghdad for the Tamimi Company, based in the Saudi city of Dammam, which is contracted to cater for 60,000 soldiers in Iraq. "We cannot depend on them."

The company, which has 12 years' experience feeding US troops in the Gulf, employs 1,800 Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese in its kitchens. It uses only a few dozen Iraqis for cleaning.

The potential for ill-feeling nevertheless remains. "US contractors are importing labor. and expatriating the benefits," says Hakim Awad, an Iraqi construction manager who queues for contracts outside Baghdad Airport every day. "Where's the benefit accruing to Iraq?"

Under a new Iraqi investment law, foreigners can own companies in full and export all the profits. US officials say they encourage firms to employ Iraqis but do not stipulate a minimum percentage for Iraqi employees.

The recourse to an Urdu-and Bengali-speaking workforce has historical echoes for Iraqis, who recall the south Asian workers the India Office imported to maintain the British army following their invasion of Iraq during the first world war."

Also, today another air strike in Fallujah: (Reuters)

In the sixth U.S. airstrike since last month, American jets Sunday hit a position in Fallujah purportedly used by foreign militants, demolishing a house and killing 14 people, hospital and local officials said.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi gave the go-ahead for the attack, according to his office and the U.S. military. [Yeah, right.]

"Explosions from the strike about 2 a.m.rocked the city. Scores of people ran to the scene and dug through the wreckage looking for survivors. One witness, who declined to give his name, said the house belonged to a "very poor family." Angry crowds gathered around the house, chanting "God is great."

"We heard the sound of jetfighters and then we heard four explosions in the house occupied by civilian residents," Lt. Saad Khalaf of the Fallujah Brigade, the local defense force.

Body parts were scattered around the scene; some remains were stacked and covered by a gray blanket.

The attack killed 14 people and injured three, according to Saad al-Amili, a Health Ministry official.


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