The International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has been analyzing the latest situation in Iraq with an emphasis on Rebuilding Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The most interesting sections of the analysis are given below:
Before the intervention in Iraq there were disagreements in the Security Council of the United Nations among the United States and Great Britain on one side and the opponents of the military intervention on the other side - Germany, France and Russia that were seriously planning to use the right of veto against any resolution that will allow the use of force against the regime in Baghdad. The UN Security Council has after days of discussions shown itself as an organ that cannot adapt itself to the needs of time and has become a prisoner of political demagogy, deriving primarily from enormous economic interests of the opposing countries.
The opposing countries have softened their position just before the fall of the Iraqi regime. The Russian president Putin stated that the breakdown of USA does not represent an economic or political interest of Russia. The French president Chirac and the German chancellor Schroeder have welcomed the fall of the dictator Saddam Hussein and have also expressed their wishes to the Iraqi people to decide upon their future by themselves and to choose a new political leadership.
The French and the Russian concerns originate from their large and yearlong economic interests in Iraq. France invested into the Majnoon (with an estimated reserve of 26 billion barrels of oil) and West Qurno oil deposits (with a reserve of 15 billion barrels of oil). The Russian companies Lukoil and Transneft represent the largest investors in the Iraqi oil, especially into Baihasan next to Kirkuk, alongside several smaller investments in north Rumaila next to Basra.
After the fall of the Iraqi regime tensions and disagreements appeared among the members of the Coalition that has toppled the Iraqi regime and the opposing camp in the Security Council – particularly Russia, France and Germany. These countries wish for the UN Organization to have a determining role in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. The representatives of the American Administration, State Secretary Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, have clearly stated that they have no desire for the United Nations to have a leading role in the post-war rebuilding of Iraq and its administration.
According to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES, the post-war rebuilding of Iraq is a very demanding and sensitive issue due to the fact that it includes several questions: humanitarian, political, social, ethnical, economic and others as well. The UN Organization is not ready to properly respond to such a demanding task, as confirmed by the experience from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and of course Afghanistan.
Iraq as a state is threatened from within and from outside. The internal troubles of Iraq originate in an undefined political system after the fall of the regime and in a lack of agreement among the local ethnical groups, such as the Kurds, the Sunnites and the Shiites.
The external threat to Iraq comes from several directions: Turkey is threatening the Kurds on the north of Iraq, Iran is interfering with the internal Shiite affairs, especially in the south of the country, while the greatest danger comes from Syria into which the complete Iraqi state and party leadership has fled and which will probably serve as the future center of destabilizing the new regime in Baghdad. In Syria a sister-party of the Iraqi Baath party, the Syrian Baath party, holds the power.
A smallest mistake and an untimely response in solving the Iraqi question can cause an explosion in the entire region from Israel and Lebanon all the way to Iran, traditionally in close relations with Syria. In this context the UN Organization is an out-dated and unreformed organization reacting very slowly almost by rule only when the events on the ground are getting out of control (IFOR has replaced the UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The Iraqi opposition shares the view of the United States and wishes for the UN Organization to have a secondary role in rebuilding the country, particularly in the humanitarian field within the framework of the ‘Oil for Food’ Program and in the area of political restructuring of the country and its international recognition. Thus the Iraqi opposition accepted the retired American general Jay Garner as the future leader of the civil administration. Next week members of the provisional government will be chosen from a line of experts in emigration or at home.
Some analysts and members of the International Institute IFIMES, who are also outstanding and important members of the Iraqi opposition and members of the future provisional government as well, participated in various Committees closely cooperating with the Future of Iraq Department at the American State Department. According to their opinion USA will favor the countries that were on the American side during the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ operation, which are Great Britain, Australia, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania. Other countries will gain contracts from the UN ‘Oil for Food’ Program, already in place since 1996 in a regular way through international and public tenders; in other words, they will only symbolically participate in reconstructing the country.
Russian companies will receive one sort of guaranteed role, but not the main one as they had before. Such a position was earned by Russia because of the mediation services between the Coalition and the Iraqi regime they provided in course of the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ operation, especially due to their role in the quiet departure of the Iraqi leadership. We cannot neglect the excellent relationships of the Russians with the Kurdish regional government in Erbil and the Shiite opposition, positioned in Iran. France on the other hand is trying to use a part of the Iraqi opposition that was active from its territory in the last 20 years, but also the bilateral agreements that they have with Great Britain (conversations of the foreign ministers Jack-Straw - Dominic De Villepan).
The International Institute IFIMES is warning that companies from Southeastern Europe do not have real chances to participate in the big business of the century, the Rebuilding of Iraq, except some countries such as Macedonia and Croatia that had in the past ten years been having constant and regular contacts with the Iraqi opposition and were all this time present at the Iraqi market. The same holds for companies from Jordania, Egypt and Syria that were in a privileged position (duty-free zone) during the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The main projects of the rebuilding process will occur within joint consortiums under the leadership of the US and the Provisional civil administration of the Iraqi state. Israel will also play an important role in the reconstruction projects due to its technological superiority. Israelis and Iraqis have already agreed to open the Mosul - Haifa pipeline that ceased its activities with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Israeli Minister for Infrastructure Yosef Baretski is already counting on Haifa to become soon Rotterdam of the Mediterranean.