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Iraq Hands Out Stimulus Money As Us Shifts Occupation

July 13, 2008

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — It is a politician’s dream: Handing out cold, hard cash to people on the street as they plead for help. Iraq’s prime minister has been doing just that in recent weeks, doling out Iraqi dinars as an aide trails behind, keeping a tally.

· Goal is to rebuild basic services, jumpstart economy by doling out oil windfalls

· Maximum grants are $8,000, but most top out at $400 for widows, ill, unemployed

· Al-Maliki, a Shiite, pledges money to many Shiite areas, fanning favoritism fears

· Disorganization, lack of know-how impede government spending, past surveys say

The handouts by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a handful of other top officials are authorized — as long as each goes no higher than about $8,000, and the same people don’t get them twice. Aides say they are meant merely to ease the pain a bit, and are motivated by a belief that better conditions will lead to more security.

The cash handouts are just one small — if eye-catching — part of a major investment push this summer by Iraq’s government. The aim is to rebuild basic services and jumpstart Iraq’s damaged economy by quickly distributing as much of the country’s glut of oil revenue as possible.

U.S. officials and a fed-up American public are urging exactly that — for Iraq to spend its own money, not America’s, to rebuild the country now that violence has eased.

Yet the Iraqi effort runs a high risk of failure: The government is disorganized, fears of favoritism remain and the shadow of corruption haunts every step.

The United States has been doling out cash itself, most effectively to former Sunni militants who switched sides to fight al Qaeda. The military has also provided money and assistance to projects like fixing damaged roads in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City after battles there.

Yet most recent big spending announcements have been Iraqi: $100 million to rebuild Sadr City; another $100 million to the Shiite city of Basra after fighting there; $100 million for another southern Shiite town, Amarah; and $83 million to help internal refugees return home.

In efforts to get government money to local farmers suffering from drought. “We’re starting to get a lot more attention and a lot more love,” First Lt. Paul Horton, an assistant civil military operations officer in Diyala, said.

U.S. and Iraq scale back security plans

US considering recall of more troops from Iraq

Report: Bush Administration Considers Stepping Up Pace of Iraq Withdrawal

Time for US to leave Iraq? Not so fast, say analysts

The idea to move out quickly from Iraq reflects the view of many in the Pentagon who want to ease the strain on the military and to free more troops for Afghanistan and potentially other missions, it reported. More US and allied troops died in Afghanistan at the hand of Taliban and other fighters than in Iraq in the last two months, a trend that continued this month.

The US is mulling withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq beginning in September to free additional troops for deployment in Afghanistan. … with the two wars straining the army and the Marines, officials haven’t been able to send any extra forces. No additional forces would be deployed in Afghanistan until next year, when fighting is expected to intensify with the arrival of spring. The Pentagon has also declared the redeployment of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and its support ships from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea to provide greater air power and surveillance for the Afghanistan mission until next spring.

Bush must have shared his formula with Maliki for buying time.  Maliki has decided that cash payments will appease the stomach turning mess that resulted from King George’s folly.  Maliki has to face the music by himself pretty soon.  McCain’s plan to occupy Iraq for another 50 to 100 years is tenuous, at best.  Obama has other plans.  Whatever the outcome, Maliki is left holding the bag until someone hangs him beside Saddam. Bush bought himself a temporary distraction, by returning a few Tax Dollars back to his angry Taxpayers.  Taxpayers, after all, funded his oil for fun and profit folly, the token Stimulus Payment was the least he could do.  Maliki does the same while US troops start shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan.  Karzai must be pondering a similar stunt.  Karzai, also, has a stomach turning mess and a lot more challenge to behold.  The Taliban and Drug Lords can hand out a lot more cash and offer security to boot.  The US has a lot of catching up to do for the Afghans.  Meanwhile back at the Israel vs Iran ranch,  Olmert and his henchmen are itching to pull the trigger before Bush leaves office … there is not enough cash in the universe to pay for that catastrophe …

Cross Posted on BlueBloggin

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