Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Iraq we don't hear about.

An article in the London Times makes a number of interesting observations, including but not limited to the following:

In the last quarter, Iraq's currency has increased by almost 15% against the dollar and the two most traded local currencies, the Kuwaiti dinar and the Iranian rial.

Despite the violence, Iraq has attracted more then 7 million foreign visitors, mostly Shi'ites making the pilgrimage to Najaf and Karbala where (despite sporadic fighting) a building boom is under way.

Iraq is earning a record 41 million to 44 million British pounds a day from oil sales. (That money goes into a fund controlled by the UN but Iraqi leaders want control transferred to the new interim government at the end of the month.) This has lead to greater economic activity, including private reconstruction schemes.

This year Iraq has had a bumper harvest with record crops, notably in wheat. It could become agriculturally self-sufficient for the first time in 30 years.

Iraq will have a soccer team in the Olympics.

During the last 10 months elections have been held in 37 municipalities. In each case victory went to the moderate, liberal and secular candidates. The former Ba'athists, appearing under fresh labels, failed to win a single seat. Hardline Islamic groups collected 1% to 3% of the vote.

No comments: