Sunday, October 15, 2006

Analysis: Much of Iraq still in ruin as U.S. builders leave

Close behind U.S. tanks and troops, America's big builders invaded Iraq three years ago. Now the reconstruction funds are drying up and they're pulling out, leaving completed projects and unfulfilled plans in the hands of an Iraqi government unprepared to manage either.

The Oct. 1 start of the U.S. government's 2007 fiscal year signaled an end to U.S. aid for new reconstruction in Iraq.

"We're really focusing now on helping Iraqis do this themselves in the future," said Daniel Speckhard, reconstruction chief at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Many Iraqi government ministries aren't able yet to pick up where the Americans leave off, he said: "They're very bad at sustainment in terms of programs and projects."

In 2003, Congress committed almost $22 billion to a three-year program to help Iraq climb back from the devastation of war, the looting that followed and years of neglect under U.N. economic sanctions and Saddam Hussein's rule.

Read the rest at the Houston Chronicle