Iraqi rebuilding fund to be spent on security

Click to follow
The Independent US

The Bush administration asked Congress yesterday to shift $3.5bn (£1.94bn) of funds earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction into short-term spending.

The Bush administration asked Congress yesterday to shift $3.5bn (£1.94bn) of funds earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction into short-term spending.

The aim is to bolster security and help oil production ahead of the Iraqi elections which, despite the continuing violence, the White House insists will take place in January.

The move came on the day that at least 59 people were killed in attacks by insurgents in Baghdad and the nearby town of Baquba. It is seen by critics as a change in US strategy and an admission that efforts to rebuild the country have failed.

Under the scheme, $1.8bn allocated for longer-term infrastructure projects will be redirected into an emergency effort to train and equip Iraqi police and security forces; $450m will go to help the oil industry; and $360m to meet the budgetary costs of forgiving virtually all Iraq's outstanding $4bn pre-war debt to the US.

The shift reflects the belief in Washington that the insurgents who have turned some cities, especially north and west of Baghdad, into no-go areas are likely to keep up the attacks at least until the US elections - and maybe longer in an attempt to disrupt the Iraqi elections. Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies said the change was "a de facto recognition that the neoconservatives' goals for restructuring Iraq can never be achieved", and amounted to the "Vietnamisation" of US military strategy. As Washington rushed in funds to create an Iraqi force capable of replacing US and British troops, American commanders had shifted to holding actions and surgical strikes.

US officials said they were merely adjusting to challenging circumstances.

Comments