Thursday, October 16, 2008

Headlines 10/16/2008

Low Oil Prices Threaten $79B Iraqi Surplus
CBS News/Associated Press
October 15, 2008
During the 2nd Presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama said: "We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion." That number is wrong. First, the Government of Iraq doesn't have $79 billion in the bank. That number is based on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) projection in August that Baghdad could reach a cumulative $79 surplus budget by the end of this year. Not only was that a projection, it was the GAO's highest possible projection. Second, $79 billion now looks excessive because it assumed that Iraq's oil revenues would remain sky high. Instead, oil prices have fallen sharply. Third, the Iraqi parliament passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill in August, which was not factored into the GAO’s surplus tally. Since the supplemental is funded by this year's projected surplus (which as noted earlier is less than expected), there is no way for Iraq's cumulative surplus to reach $79 billion by the end of the year. Fourth, as noted by our contributing blogger, Musings on Iraq, Baghdad is outspending Washington in helping Iraqis rebuild. Finally, if you factor in falling oil prices and rising Iraqi government spending, then the government of Iraq may end up with less than $30 billion "in the bank" at the end of this year. As Iraq's Finance Minister rightly points out, it is not accurate to refer to such funds as a "surplus." The Central Bank of Iraq must maintain a federal reserve to support Iraq's currency. Without a healthy reserve, Iraq cannot have a fixed currency. And without a fixed currently, there would be even more instability and turmoil in Iraq.

US Agrees to Limit Iraqi Jurisdiction
Associated Press
October 15, 2008
Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes about American troops who could face trial before Iraqi courts for major crimes committed off base.

Followers of Ancient Faith Caught in Iraq’s Fault Lines
New York Times
October 13, 2008
Campbell Robertson writes of the Yazidis of Qahtaniya and the plight of this largely peaceful people in the all-too-familiar position for Iraqi minorities who exist between two antagonistic forces.

Iraq’s Christians Ask for Protection

National Public Radio
October 13, 2008
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on the Christian minority in Iraq, which has been targeted with a rapid increase of attacks this year.

Pigeon Breeds Now Face Fewer Challenges in Iraq

Los Angeles Times
October 12, 2008
Raheem Salman writes that sanctions and war made it difficult and dangerous for hobbyists to pursue their passion, but lately things are looking up for the bird lovers.

Schools Open, and First Test is Iraqi Safety
New York Times
October 11, 2008
Sam Dagher writes of schools opening in Baghdad and students attending classes amid improved security, but families remain fearful of the situation.

Violence in Mosul Forces Iraqi Christians to Flee
New York Times
October 10, 2008
Erica Goode and Suada Al-Salhy write about the hundreds of Christians who have fled Mosul in the wake of a string of killings that appear to be singling out Christians in the northern Iraqi city.

In Iraq, Those Displaced by Violence Return Home
National Public Radio
October 9, 2008
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports after the holy month of Ramadan when hundreds of families displaced by sectarian fighting began returning to the divided neighborhood of Ghazaliyah.

Nearing the End
New York Times Editorial
October 8, 2008
Editorial writer argues that no matter who wins the presidential election, the United States is on its way out of Iraq.

The Race for Iraqi Oil
National Public Radio
October 5, 2008
Peter Kenyon reports on the rising competition for Iraqi oil. In late October, Iraq will host more than three dozen major oil companies, all of which hope to bid and win the account for handling Iraq's massive oil reserves.

P.S. EPIC has set up a scholarship fund to help offset travel costs for students, activists, and low income participants who wish to attend the Iraq at the Crossroads symposium. So far $121.25 has been donated. If you'd like to contribute, donate today "on behalf of the Rutgers Scholarship Fund."

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