01 September 2006

The Quiet and Hidden News of Iraq

Just a quick roundup of some items to see how things are going in Iraq these days, beyond the bloody headlines and the scare-mongering media. You know, the 'behind the scenes' stuff that you are not supposed to pay attention to...

First, electrical generation from the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity lists 8,845 MW of electrical generation capacity, but that page appears to be a couple of years old at this point. But they do handily list the ongoing activities and announcements, which are updated. But they do offer a tantalizing bit of info with this release which looks to be a bit before 12 JUL 2006:

Production abilities returning

An authorized source in the ministry of electricity said:

The production abilities has been returned to the electricity energy generating in the south as usual on 12/7/2006 when the Oil ministry fixed the default on one of Gas pressuring stations.

From another hand, the source confirmed the lowering of the electricity energy supplying rates from the Iraqi connection line with rate 50% due to the problems in the Iranian power net and the line will be fixing again on 12/7/2006.
Now, they are getting electricity from Iran, and Turkey, Syria, Jordan and KSA if memory serves, but what sort of mischief might Iran cause by cutting that sort of thing off every now and again? They are still having some problems with terrorists blowing up power lines, but they seem to have a handle on that situation, now. None of those actions are critical nor threaten the Nation. And we do know that more production capability is being built to get it up to 9,500 MW, probably within a year or so. USAID looks to see a need for a continuous 8,500 MW for all of Iraq, and by going over that room for expansion, repairing and refitting older stations and generally getting reliable uptime Nation-wide will be available. And looking around for pre-war numbers one can get peak electricity production in the 4,300 MW range to 5,500 MW down from 9,100 MW pre-1991 war. But as we have seen from the state of the power generation facilities, Saddam had been scrimping on those since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980's, so describing possible production as opposed to actual production needs be taken into consideration. But, its looking good.

Now a hop over to the Iraqi Water Ministry and see what is going on there... its been ages since I looked them up... tons of projects in the sidebar! Well, having to restore the Marshes, get agricultural water supply returned to areas Saddam let go, getting potable water to cities and towns, sewage and drainage, dam management and how that impacts hydro-electric supplies. Busy people! Quite an impressive listing of completed projects and achievements, and staggering to think they have about twice as many in progress and more to be let this year. This is not glamorous work, but vital to rebuilding Iraq and, in many cases, putting in capability for the first time in some towns. Rehabilitating the agricultural sector is a huge thing to do plus restore the untold acres of wetlands that were destroyed by Saddam to coerce the Marsh Arabs out of them.

Justice Ministry is in arabic only, so have to give that a pass. Would love to get *their* police blotter and exactly who has been put away.

Time to head over to the press releases of the Iraqi Government. Do note that they have some problems on their pages with getting the proper links in. Most of that due to the use of the underbar '_' in the referring page and the dash '-' in the page with content. Takes a bit of hunting and they really should get a webmaster that can handle these things. Last release was 31 JUL 2006 from the Ministry of Defense:
MOD spokesman declared, in a press conference held today, that tally of operations conducted for the period 14-30 July 2006 led to the murder of 19 terrorists, arresting 625, conducting 1097 patrols and setting 995 checkpoints along with 108 traps within the sectors of 6th and 7th divisions. He added: targeting innocent civilians by terrorists proved their failure, he referred to new ways and strategy for the Iraqi security forces to find places for launching mortars and missiles in order to avoid repetition of such terrorist operations from these places. He explained that the last week witnessed a series of meetings with tribes' leaders and religious personalities in places like Nineveh, Mahmudiya, Latifyia and other hot spots to support the project of the national reconciliation, and to match views of opinions in some tensioned places in Baghdad, he pointed out that Army media set specialized teams to receive phone calls through hotlines from citizens in order to bridge trust among security facilities and people who are the basic source for information that serve military sectors. He stressed that statements issued by some parties through mosques to recruit Iraqi army are not official ones, because the ministry has formal centers to receive Iraqis who likes to apply.
All of that in a little over 2 weeks? Yowza! So here you have Iraqi's rounding up terrorists, killing a few and finding ways to thwart terrorists from using places to attack them again. And it is doing outreach via hotlines to establish trust with the citizens of Iraq. Then warns that only the official recruiting sites are valid and the only valid places to sign up to join the Army. No mosques allowed.

The next press release looks at displaced people due to terrorism: 30,359 from 15 FEB 2006 to 30 JUL 2006. The lion's share of that is from Baghdad, which is also the target of operations for the last couple of months and was a hotbed for the militias,terroristss and various other thugs before *that*. Luckily, the city is getting the slow, thorough cleaning treatment.

A bit of looking yields this article about an Iraqi newsman assassinated by terrorists. Yes, the terrorists don't like *anyone* reporting about them... no wonder the Western media is afraid to report about them truthfully. And this always brings to mind: what are MSM networks doing getting stories from 'stringers' in Iraq when the folks there have their own, independent media? I mean, how much could it cost to set up agreements with them to get first-hand news reporting and analysis by Iraqis on the news there? Just cowardly to sit in hotel rooms getting 'stories' from stringers or being 'brave' enough only to go out with soldiers. If you can't be bothered to risk your life for news, then buy it from a valid source that *does* so.

Heading over to the Central Bank of Iraq, and just out of prurient interest I check on money laundering. And you get the list of individuals known to be associated with these activities, starting with the Taliban in Afghanistan! List date is 25 APR 2006 so relatively up to date... goes on to al Qaeda... pages and pages and pages of scanned material... then some of the affiliates of al Qaeda... then the folks and organizations cleared and ok to work with. Well, that was *not* what I expected to find. Over to the Key Financial numbers area and the Iraqi Dinar has been holding steady against the dollar at 1476 to 1478 dinar to the dollar for some months. Ministry of Finance T-Bills going at 8%, and prime lending rate at 14% with a couple of points higher for 'lender of last resort' credit. Inflation rate not listed, but quite a few things aren't. Checking out this document, under the News section, we get some actual figures for 2004 and 2005 and estimates for 2006.
The per capita GDP for 2004: US$942
Poverty rate for the Nation was 7%
Population of 27.1 million
Consumer inflation has been swinging around and they are working hard to stabilize it at 15% or less to meet IMF restrictions.
Total external debt is being addressed and harshly, from 588 to 541 and targeting 154 for this year, which I assume to be in US$ Million as that is what the total line uses.
Nominal GDP is aiming at the US$ 33 billion range. And that fits with the debt size.
Unemployment rate 11%
Well, no one ever claimed Iraq to have a large economy, as I recall. That last number, however, is damned amazing! Why, at the start of 2005 the unemployment rate was in the 17-22% range. Getting it down to 11% is getting Iraq competitive with European countries in employment. All sorts of interesting news in Iraq just from the banking perspective.

Now here is an interesting site, just in conception: Iraqi National Intelligence Service. And proud of it, too! Duties come first and they put those down in plain sight along with their charter and reason for being. They have an Essays area which seems to be some sort of overview of the problems of Iraq and how they view them as coming about and what the goals are to end them. They are *not* splendid prose, but plain speaking and to the point. Also are some pictures of the bomb types they have seen.

All of these sites are works in progress, but progress is being made and quite rapidly, too.

The USAID site does a good job of summarizing US aid to Iraq and what we are getting for it, but do note that they tend to concentrate on the emergency relief area and so have a number of inactive areas as the emergency is over for them.

So, here is the big question: what kind of civil war is it that brings unemployment down by establishing legitimate jobs, raises the economy up, stabilizes inflation and pays off foreign debts?

Please restrict answers to industrialized Nations only and to within the last 100 years, just to keep things more or less in synch with the modern era.

The blood on the streets is the story the MSM and terrorists *want* you to hear.

The building of a Nation is a quiet thing and lost in the noise because a screaming headline of death always beats, hands down, a new school, a completed sewer project, additional electrical capacity and a stabilized economy.


John R said...

Great post. I had no idea that the economic progress had come this far in Iraq. I have made this post my "Blog of the Week".


Also, thank you for the included links in this article. They will come in handy.

A Jacksonian said...

JR - My thanks!

I have also done a bit of the 'police blotter' look at Iraq in a previous post. Again, the blood is left out to allow analysis of underlying happenings.