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Iraq Awards Contracts To Iran, China


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Iraq Awards Contracts To Iran, China. The New York Times (10/18, Glanz, 1.18M) reports, "Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran. ... The expansion of ties between Iraq and Iran comes as the United States and Iran clash on nuclear issues and about what American officials have repeatedly said is Iranian support for armed groups in Iraq." The Iraqi electricity minister "said that the Iranian project would be built in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad" and "that Iran had also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge ... At the same time, it is possible to view Iranian and Chinese investment as giving those countries a stake in Iraqi stability."

Chemical Ali's Execution Seen As Imminent. The New York Times (10/18, Kramer, 1.18M) reports, "The man known as Chemical Ali for ordering poison gas attacks against the Kurds in the 1980s has been flown by helicopter from a United States base to a site near a prison gallows in Baghdad, an Iraqi police official said Wednesday, suggesting that his execution was imminent." His execution had been delayed "in a legal dispute over whether Mr. Majid [Chemical Ali] and two other top officials convicted for their roles in the Kurdish campaign should be killed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week." In addition, "a roadside bomb killed seven Iraqi policemen in a Shiite area south of Baghdad in the worst of a number of violent episodes. Other attacks took aim at civilians, a government lawyer, Sunni tribal fighters allied with the United States and foreign security contractors."

Ban Urges Reconciliation In Iraq. The AP (10/18, Lederer) reports UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon "urged Iraqis to take advantage of the recent decrease in violence and deaths to work across ethnic, sectarian and political lines for national reconciliation. September witnessed the lowest number of Iraqi casualties this year, an easing of violence that holds 'significant political potential,' Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Wednesday." He called the relatively low death toll "an opportunity that should not be missed." Ban "said the U.N. was ready to help resolve internal boundaries issues" and "urged donors to replenish a trust fund to protect the U.N. in Iraq, which will be exhausted in November." The UN reportedly is "prepared to assist in drafting laws that are critical to national reconciliation including on the division of Iraq's oil revenue."

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