Friday, December 30, 2005

Man Of The People

Like a dog returning to its vomit Chalabi returns to his true calling -- guarding the precious.

Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has been temporarily released from his post amid a dispute over the government's petrol pricing policy.

He is to be replaced for 30 days by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi.

That should be outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, should it not? Chalabi turned out to be even more unpopular than Allawi in the latest election, rife as it is with complaints of tampering and intimidation.

Not that I exult in Chalabi's failure, mind you. He's a corrupt sack of shit, but at least he and Allawi are not insane fundamentalist whackjobs. The devil you know and all. Still, Chalabi's a scumbag, a longstanding siphon of US tax dollars, an aristocratic chump whose shameless fabulism got us into this mess in the first fucking place.

So yeah, let's just give him the keys to the store. He's earned it.

Fears of severe shortages, prompted by the closure of Iraq's largest oil refinery, have led to long queues at petrol stations in Baghdad.

The refinery in the northern town of Baiji has been shut since last week following death threats to tanker drivers.

A ministry spokesman told reporters that "production in the north, centre and south is about to suffocate".

The closure has jeopardised power supplies across northern Iraq and is costing the ministry $20m (£12m) a day.


The Iraqi government cut subsidies on petrol earlier this month shortly before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed a new $685m (£395m) loan to aid its economic reconstruction.

Protests broke out throughout the country as the price of petrol tripled from 50 to 150 dinars ($0.03 to $0.10) a litre.

Although billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, fuel and electricity production have not reached the levels maintained before the invasion.

Well, I have no doubt that the IMF has found their boy. Less than 40¢ per gallon doesn't sound like much, but in a war-torn country with 70% unemployment, the relevant fact is that the price has been tripled overnight. Imagine the chaos here, should gas go from $2-something to $6-7 per gallon. Why, Hummer drivers might have to conserve by carpooling, or huddling together.

Guess Wolfie, as head of the World Bank (and thus the IMF), got his hand in the cookie jar after all. Thank Allah for a useful tool like Ahmad Chalabi. Keep him in mercenaries and his CIA stipend, and let him play his little games between us and the Iranians, and he's good to go.

Now why exactly am I supposed to trust that the domestic spying program will be competently handled?

[via firedoglake]

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