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Ex-British Army Chief in Iraq Confirms Peak Oil as Motive for War; Praises Fraudulent Reconstruction Programmes

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Today, those profiting most from reconstruction projects in Iraq are not Iraqis, but private contractors based primarily in the United States and Britain, according to a new report out last month by Stuart Bowen Jr, incumbent Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The Bowen Report found that at least 855 contracts valued at billions of dollars were cancelled before completion. Another 112 agreements were cancelled because of poor performance, while still more projects recorded as completed never happened. In one case, a $50 million children's hospital in Basra is listed as completed although the contract was stopped when only 35 percent of the work was finished.

During Brigadier Ellery's tenure at the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, under Paul Bremer's leadership $8.8 billion of reconstruction funds were unaccounted for, and a further $3.4 billion was re-directed for "security" purposes. A UN body to audit the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), by which the CPA Programme Review Board managed Iraqi oil revenues until June 2004, found "gross irregularities by CPA officials in their management of the DFI," and condemned the United States for "lack of transparency" and providing the opportunity for "fraudulent acts."

Under American- and British-administered Iraqi reconstruction programmes, Iraqi agriculture has been devastated. In 2004, the Coalition Provision Authority imposed a hundred economic orders designed to open Iraq's economy to foreign investment, including Order 12 for tax- and tariff-free imports of foreign products. The Order allowed the giant American agribusiness conglomerate Cargill to flood Iraq with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cheap wheat, undercutting local food prices, and wiping out the livelihoods of Iraqi farmers.

As an executive director of AEGIS, one of the most prominent US defence contractors in Iraq, Brigadier Ellery is a personal beneficiary of the privatisation of the Iraqi economy. In the conclusions of his April address, he said, "Iraq has resources aplenty: not just oil, of which there is a prodigious quantity", but especially "the capacity to rebuild a balanced economy including agriculture - for which Iraq was a legend."

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Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the 'System Shift' column for VICE's Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New (more...)
 

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