Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. This briefing is brought to you by Joel Gaines of No Pundit Intended and Andrew Olmsted of Andrew Olmsted dot com.
- The election results are in, but as Iraq the Model points out, it will take months for the Iraqi representatives to determine the shape of their new government. Austin Bay lays out his assessment of the election, with both good and bad news. (Hat tip: Instapundit.) The largest Sunni political bloc has agreed to work with Shiite and Kurdish parties to attempt to form a national unity government.
- Red on red action may become more common, as the Iraqi insurgency is now showing significant fault lines between more nationalist groups and al Qaeda in Iraq.
Other Topics Today Include: minister's sister released; interpreters for the U.S.; where did the money go; more on Oil-for-Food; reconstruction highlights; Carnival of the Liberated; Iran releases Iraqi coast guard; German involvement in U.S. attack; China offers reconstruction assistance; Judge resigns, trial goes on.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
- The Iraqi government confirmed interior minister Bayan Jabr's sister had been released after 2 weeks in captivity, but would not say whether a ransom had been paid.
- ABC News reports on some of the difficulties faced by Iraqis who choose to serve as interpreters for the U.S. military.
RECONSTRUCTION & THE ECONOMY
- The Coalition Provisional Authority, which existed from shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003 until June 2004, doled out vast sums of money in an attempt to quickly return vital services in Iraq to normal. That didn't happen in much of the country and despite investigations, no one is exactly sure where some of the funds were spent.
- Australian grain marketer AWB inflated prices in its UN-approved Iraq wheat contracts to extract millions of dollars for a debt owed to BHP and created a "sham" agreement, which saw $300 million funnelled to Saddam Hussein.
- With the billions of dollars appropriated by the United States for Iraqi reconstruction mostly spent, Japan, Australia and other nations are likely to be asked for funding for unfinished projects.
- Take a look at this week's reconstruction highlights:
Six future employees of Iraq’s new Investment Promotion Agency received training in the United States through USAID’s Izdihar program. Bringing together Iraqi professionals and U.S. experts from successful economic development organizations in South Carolina and Georgia, the effort sought to provide an in-depth view of how other agencies attract investment to their regions.
Nearly 560 Iraqi accountants received intensive training in international standards across 17 governorates.
In October 2005, USAID sponsored ARDI began its Animal Health and Zoonetic Disease Awareness Program in 240 villages in Dahuk and Ninawa. A total of 4,824 participants, mostly women, attended the program’s workshops. Due to overwhelming positive feedback from these workshops, ARDI initiated a second program, this time double the size of the original. The workshops, which will begin later this month in 480 villages in Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah, are expected to reach 12,000 villagers.
Construction of five of the six USAID-supported primary healthcare centers (PHCs) has been completed. Four of the completed five have been handed over to directorates of health, while the remaining completed PHC will be handed over next week. Progress has reached 90 percent in the construction of the sixth PHC. Once they are open for service delivery, these PHCs will provide greater access to improved health services for 100,000 people in remote and underserved areas.
Following the release of $35,000 (from USAID funds) by UNICEF to the Iraq Ministry of Health (MoH) to initiate phase II of the development of the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Strategy, meetings and training sessions in Baghdad and the southern governorates commenced. Preparations for training in the northern governorates are ongoing while efforts are underway to support printing of the Kurdish version of the strategy template.
Over 14,000 students have enrolled in the 2005/06 Accelerated Learning Program (ALP). A total of 148 schools have opened ALP classes throughout the southern and central governorates.
Water and sanitation facilities at 439 schools have been rehabilitated. The rehabilitation at an additional 224 schools is ongoing in different stages, while 102 schools are still in the bidding process.
Two neighborhoods elected to renovate a teachers’ institute and a girls’ school. In two districts of a central Iraqi city, a teachers’ institute and a girls’ school were identified by the community as priorities for renovation.
- Iraq's Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance has won last month's parliamentary elections, but failed to obtain an absolute majority. The nation’s electoral commission ruled that more than 99 percent of the votes were valid.
- The latest Carnival of the Liberated is up at Dean's World.
THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
- Iran has released eight Iraqi coastguards detained on Saturday after a clash on the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which marks the Iran-Iraq border. A ninth coastguard died of wounds sustained in the gunfight and his body will be repatriated later.
- Will German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier keep his job amid mounting pressure to reveal his knowledge of involvement of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service BND in a U.S. bombing in Baghdad in 2003 meant to kill Saddam Hussein, but instead killed 12 civilians? It remains unsure whether the accusations are true, but Steinmeier says he knew intelligence agents were in Iraq but did not know about any targeting aid, as the government's anti-war position was binding for the intelligence and that only data of non-targets such as hospitals and embassies were shared with U.S. intelligence to spare them from being hit.
- Italian authorities have announced plans to withdraw some 3,000 troops from Iraq by the end of this year.
- China states their willingness to provide training to Iraqi personnel in the spheres of telecommunications, power generation and diplomacy as well as oil.
- Judge Rizgar Amin, trying Saddam Hussein, has refused to withdraw his resignation, forcing the court named a stand-in to preside over next week's hearings while efforts continue to persuade him to return. However, the appointment of Judge Sayid al-Hamashi as a stand in has brought a new set of problems. Said Faisal, the executive manager of the independent De-Ba'athification Commission, said that al-Hamashi was the object of an inquiry by the body and should not be allowed to stand in the trial.
- A U.S. Army warrant officer was convicted of negligent homicide for his role in the death of an Iraqi general during an interrogation.
- Do you have your GI Bracelet? Many military families fall into financial hardship when the breadwinner is injured or killed. The entire purchase price of the GI Bracelet is donated to support our troops and their families! Please join us to give back to these brave people in their time of need.
- The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops: American, Australian, British, Canadian & Polish. Anyone out there with more information, contact us!
- Don't forget Chief Wiggles' Toys for Iraq drive!
- Many American troops have taken it upon themselves to reconstruct schools and gather learning tools for the children of Iraq. Their efforts have been met with immense gratitude from the local Iraqis and their children. You can help too! Visit Operation Iraqi Children and get involved.
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