Wednesday, July 23, 2003

After three months the USA finally has a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. Will it work? I'm doubtful:
WASHINGTON, July 22 ? The top American civilian administrator in Iraq is to announce on Wednesday a 60-day plan for that nation, including restoring power to prewar levels, resuming criminal courts, awarding mobile-telephone licenses, and distributing revised textbooks to newly opened schools.

The detailed set of security, economic and political objectives, to be described in a speech here by the administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, is intended to rebut growing criticism from some in Congress, aid agencies and even some military officers in Iraq that the civilian occupation authorities have no clearly defined path ahead for postwar rebuilding.

Since arriving here from Baghdad over the weekend, Mr. Bremer has appeared on the Sunday news programs, met with lawmakers and conferred with President Bush's top advisers to outline his blueprint for what many officials say is a make-or-break period for the reconstruction. He is to meet with Mr. Bush on Wednesday. "There's a lot of talk that we have no plan, and don't know what we're doing," Mr. Bremer said in interview at the Pentagon today. "Well, we have a plan and we're executing that plan."

However, freedom of the press is not part of the plan for right now:

BAGHDAD -- A local newspaper has been shut down and its manager arrested because of an article that U.S. occupation authorities and Iraqi officials considered an incitement to violence and a threat to human rights in Iraq.

Iraqi police accompanied by U.S. troops raided the offices of Al-Mustaqila newspaper, which means The Independent in Arabic. Neighbors said troops broke down the front door, ransacked the office and detained the newspaper's manager, Abdul Sattar Shalan.

According to U.S. occupation authorities, the paper published an article 10 days ago titled, "Death to all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S.; killing them is religious duty." The headline closely echoed recent threats made by clandestine armed groups against U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators.

"The Coalitional Provisional Authority supports and encourages the development of a free and responsible Iraqi press," the occupation agency said in a statement today. But it said Al-Mustaqila "has chosen to threaten the basic human rights of Iraqi citizens" and published a "clearly inciteful article," putting it in violation of occupation press rules.

The U.S. authority has banned all Iraqi media from publishing or airing material it views as inciting political, religious or ethnic violence or promoting attacks on U.S. forces here. It has already shut down one Baghdad radio station and one Shiite Muslim newspaper in Najaf on these grounds.