Iraq's Odious Debts

Terrorism and rising crime hound Iraq, says Allawi

August 25, 2004

London: Postwar Iraq is suffering an explosion of crime with murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and drug trafficking adding to the violence of terrorist attacks, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Wednesday.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Allawi also said “foreign terrorist groups” were determined to thwart Iraq’s chances of success, but his government was bolstering police and security forces to tackle them.

Allawi said the high levels of crime were often of greater concern to Iraqis than attacks by insurgents and terrorists. And he said Iraq did not have the capacity to deal with the problems on its own.

“Our forces are not adequately armed and too small to face the challenges alone,” Allawi wrote.

“The journey ahead towards peace and prosperity for Iraq may be long and arduous,” he added. “But as with all worthwhile journeys . . . it is best undertaken collectively . . . in this case the whole of the Iraqi nation and our friends in the world community.”

Allawi’s interim government formally took control of Iraq at the end of June, but U.S.-led coalition forces remain in the country at the government’s request to help with security.

The previous regime of President Saddam Hussein was toppled in a U.S.-led war which President George W. Bush declared over on May 1, 2003.

Allawi stressed his government wanted to involve all Iraqis in the political process as long as they renounced violence and criminal activity.

“We will not, however, accept private militias or armed gangs using violence to set the political agenda by force – there can be no free and democratic Iraq without a respect for the law and the rights of fellow citizens.”

Allawi said joblessness and poverty were major causes of rising crime and frustration across the country.

He called for Iraq’s national debt – the highest in the world as a percentage of GDP – to be largely forgiven “so that future generations of Iraqis are not made to suffer for the wrongs of the Saddam regime.”

He also urged the United States and other countries who have promised reconstruction help to make good on their commitments.

“Despite reconstruction commitments of $18 billion from the United States and $13 billion from other countries, only a very small fraction of these funds have actually been received and disbursed,” Allawi wrote.

“This needs to be rapidly accelerated so that Iraqi citizens and companies can see the tangible physical progress of reconstruction.”

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