Iraq: Occupiers, privatisers and exploiters

THE US-led coalition forces occupying Iraq can’t get the country’s power supply going regularly nor can they create health and education services for local people.

But they can try to impose their insane job-threatening capitalist ideas on the country. They aim to privatise whatever they can as quickly as is feasible.

Tim Carney, senior coalition adviser to the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, says that dozens of state-owned industries are likely to be ear-marked for privatisation within the next year.

Before that, the occupying forces claimed they’d wait at least until they had an elected Iraqi government of some kind before privatising industry.

Now they say that the economy needs ’too much investment too rapidly’ to worry about such niceties. Foreign ownership will be allowed – business interests from Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc have offered to lease, buy or create joint ventures with Iraqi companies.

Even the very pro-capitalist Iraqi National Accord warns that: "The Iraqi people would turn against privatisation if it was seen to be run for the benefit of foreign companies, especially if it was not being done by an elected government. Then the objectives of the coalition could be misunderstood."

Such fears may make the Americans think twice but the capitalist transformation of Iraq is one of the major "objectives of the coalition".

In just eight weeks since US forces seized Baghdad, Iraq’s once sheltered economy has become a free-trade zone. The small minority of Iraqis with money to spare can buy TVs from South Korea, fridges from Iran or China and toasters from Germany.

Iraqi industry’s outdated equipment can’t produce good quality goods. Capitalist manufacturers and state-owned companies alike are feeling the pinch. If the US can’t get away with direct privatisation, they may just leave it to the "natural" laws of capitalism to wreck Iraqi industry and make it ripe for privatisation and take-over.

On the other hand, they may just go gaily ahead with their privatisation schemes. Either way it looks bad news for Iraq’s working class unless it fights back against global capitalism’s plans.

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June 2003