With gasoline supplies dwindling and anger growing, Washington and Baghdad are scrambling to return Iraq to what passes for normal. Iraqi oil ministry officials say that the payments will resume soon. "The oil ministry is working with the government in order to speed up the payment process. There is no problem. It is just a matter of time and the money will be paid," ministry spokesman Asim Jihad told reporters.
U.S. embassy officials are more pessimistic. "I scheduled to have some high level meetings in the next several days with Ministry of Oil officials," Delare wrote to Waller on February 6. "I wish I had encouraging news for you, but despite our efforts to resolve the payments arrears problems, we have had no success so far," the embassy economic counselor in Baghdad added.
In an e-mail update to CorpWatch, Delare added: "The fuel situation is regarded as a very serious matter that is prompting daily contact between embassy and the government at all levels -- from the ambassador and his counterparts to more technical staff and their interlocutors."
But officials in Baghdad do have another fallback plan -- their one-time arch enemy, Iran, which is close to the current Iraqi government. Indeed this subject was discussed as far back as last July when Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari visited Tehran, a prospect that mystifies Waller given the ongoing political disputes between Iran and the U.S. government.
"Due to payment issues and the fuel problems the U.S. backed government of Iraq is now seeking to purchase and import fuel from Iran, and Najaf is the new Iranian capital of Iraq," Alan Waller, chief executive officer LOI, wrote on February 4th, to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
In the meanwhile operation "enduring freedom" goes on in Iraq...
Bush speech 2003:
"Thanks to our military, Iraqi citizens do not have to fear a secret police, arbitrary arrests, or loved ones lost forever, and mass graves. Thanks to our military, the torture chambers of a dictator are closed, the prison cells for children are empty. Thanks to our military, Saddam Hussein will never threaten anybody with a weapon of mass destruction. (Applause.)
Life is returning to normal for a lot of citizens in Iraq. Hospitals and universities have opened, in many places, water and other utility services are reaching pre-war levels. For the first time, a free press is operating in Iraq. Across Iraq, nearly all schoolchildren have completed their exams. And now, those children are receiving a real education without the hateful propaganda of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
By the hard efforts of our military, we are keeping our word to the world and to the Iraqi people. The illegal weapons hidden by the former regime will be found. The free and representative government Iraqis are building is there to stay.
A free Iraq will no longer be a training ground for terrorists, will no longer supply them with money or weapons. A free Iraq will help to rid the Middle East of resentment, and violence, and radicalism. A free Iraq will show all nations of the region that human freedom brings progress and prosperity. By working for peace and stability in the Middle East, we're making America, and future generations of Americans, more secure.
Find the lies and proceed to the next level...