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Thursday, May 08, 2003

We're now almost two months into the war in Iraq, so now is a good time to take a step back and assess the situation as we understand it:

* No NBC weapons have been discovered, although one suspicious mobile "lab" is being dismantled and thoroughly investigated.

* The situation on the ground in most of Iraq can be characterized as unstable -- looting, disorder, misinformation, and a lack of basic services prevail.

* Huge amounts of conventional weapons are floating around. The civilian population has easy access to everything from small arms to rocket launchers. Looters have also stolen nuclear waste materials from Iraq's nuclear waste dump.

* The two main oil-producing regions of Iraq are in the North (where the Kurds are most numerous) and in the South (where the Shia muslims predominate). The Kurds have a history of enjoying relative autonomy in the North, and the Shias in the South are discovering their political voice.

* The United States is actively promoting the placement of Iraqi ex-patriots in key government positions. These ex-patriots may not be acquainted with modern Iraq (some have lived outside the country since the 1950's) and will have to gain the trust of the people they govern.

* It may take a year or more to resume Iraq's full oil-production capacity. Currently the Iraqi oil industry produces some 200,000 barrels of oil per day, most of which is consumed domestically. In spite of the abundance of natural reserves, there are fuel shortages all over the country.

* The U.S. firms which have been contracted to rebuild Iraq have yet to operate much because the situation on the ground is still too dangerous.

These are some of the forces and trends at work currently in Iraq. Needless to say, these all pose challenges to any government, whether its the U.S. civil administration or a future Iraqi government.

Andrew 9:37 AM : |


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