Once in control of Iraq, Bremer immediately took steps to punish the Iraqis for Saddam’s sins. Together with the prewar sanctions, the harsh policies he imposed on farmers, for instance, turned vast swaths of Mesopotamia – viewed by historians as the cradle of agriculture and in turn of civilization itself, into a desert. Most of the damage to this sacred territory, once home to the Garden of Eden, will never be healed. Salination has taken its toll.
Bremer destroyed Iraqi agriculture – and also most of the Iraqi economy, almost completely, primarily under his infamous Article 81.
The Rawabet Center reports in its Arabic language edition (our adaptation):
“In terms of agriculture, before 2003, Iraq had a central seed system, the so-called National Seed Bank. It was developing a seed industry with centralized control and a good variety of all the different kinds of seeds and wheat in the world. The farmers worked at preserving, sharing and re-planting them. The intention was to have cultivar lines that dated back thousands of years, ie, from the time of the early farmers. But after 2003, by order of Bremer, the scientific research and development institutions of Iraqi seeds were destroyed completely and deliberately. Now, seed supplies cover only 5%, according to a study conducted in 2005.
“Resolution 81 is important in that it destroyed Iraq's agricultural economy, significantly impacting Iraq under color of law, thanks to the Law on Patents, Industrial Designs, Confidentiality, Information, Integrated Circuits and Crop Diversity. Article 81 states: "Iraqi farmers shall be prevented from using protected seeds and any item mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 14, prohibiting Iraqi farmers to save seeds, share with others, or replant harvested seeds.”
A US researcher, Dalia Wasfi, who visited Iraq after the debacle, came back and testified before Congress of the misery caused by US involvement there.
Rawabet Center reported on this in its English-language edition. Some excerpts (edited for clarity by NSS):
“Wasfi was referring [in comments about who benefited from Article 81] to Monsanto, a multinational company engaged in agricultural biotechnology and the undisputed world’s largest producer of seeds (regular and genetically modified). It holds 70-100% of the world market share of various crop seeds in the world.
“The company uses these seeds for one harvest season, making farmers rely on the company to provide grain each year because it was genetically modified, and its seeds cannot be replanted.
“So here lies the interest of companies such as Dow, a multinational American chemical company, and Cargill grain company which work to reproduce and deal in the seed. These are the only companies that manufacture chemicals for seeds.”
Besides the infamous Order 81, there were other orders intended to benefit US entities at the expense of the beleaguered Iraqis.
Resolution No. 39 allows for privatization of 200 formerly state-owned companies to be transferred to foreign owners, national treatment for foreign companies, tax exemption for transfer of profits and other funds. This allows US companies operating in Iraq to be sole owners of any business, to work in the business and send all proceeds to the US without having to reinvest the money locally in the service of the Iraqi economy, with no need to hire Iraqi labor or provide benefits to workers.
Resolution No. 40 transformed the state-owned banking sector to a market-driven one overnight by allowing foreign banks to enter the Iraqi market and buy up to 50% of Iraqi banking.
Resolution No. 12 suspended all customs duties and taxes on imports and additional license fees for goods entering or leaving Iraq, and all other trade restrictions applying to such goods. This led to an immediate and dramatic inflow of cheap consumer products and eliminated national industry.
Resolution No. 17: grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraqi laws. Thus if a foreign contractor caused damage to a third party, eg, killing someone or causing environmental damage, eg, by disposal of toxic chemicals, or water intoxication, the injured party cannot resort to the Iraqi legal system, as it must submit charges to US courts.
Resolution 30 prevents many industrial products and raw materials from being exported from Iraq.
So far these laws are still on the books, preventing Iraq from rising out of poverty. The Iraqi lawmakers are mysteriously prevented from cancelling them. Minister of Industry and Minerals, Mohammad Darraji, said that “hidden entities work to keep the decisions of Bremer and prevent Iraq from exporting to eliminate Iraqi industry.”
Meanwhile, America keeps playing the only game it knows, dividing the world into black vs white, ie, those who are for it and those who are against it, while Russia has discovered nuances and shared interests that can help bring adversaries together despite their differences.
An article in Al-Monitor sums up the difference between the strategies of East and West:
“…while Putin choreographs each move with a wary and calculating eye on Iran and the ever-shifting regional landscape, the United States limits its options by seeing every Iranian move as adversarial and in zero-sum terms, which only serves to frustrate Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who prefers that the United States and Iran not play out their hostility in Iraq.”
The best hope for Iraq is Russia and the Iraqis know it.