Vertigo in Bagdad



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Vertigo in Bagdad

Nous sommes impardonnables d’avoir raté ce tableau des scènes de la vie quotidienne in Bagdad-on-Potomac. Nous y revenons donc, dans le Washington Post du 24 mai.

En lisant cet article, en effet, vous saurez tout sur la situation culinaire in Bagdad-on-Potomac. Nous apprenons l’affreuse nouvelle de l’interruption temporaire, due au mauvais temps paraît-il, des convois alimentaires amenant la “bonne bouffe” destinée aux résidents de la Green Zone (GZ), rebaptisée International Zone (IZ). La crise est passée inaperçue bien qu’elle ait été sévère, notamment à cause du manque d’ice creams et de l’affreuse circonstance où les résidents de la IZ, tous authentifiés non-Irakiens ou Irakiens-américanisés, furent confrontés au dilemme d’avoir à bouffer des rations militaires ou de la bouffe d’origine irakienne. (Selon le porte-parole de l’ambassade, Dan Sreebny, — voir plus loin : «We've run out of some things. I miss my yogurt in the morning and my fresh-cut melon.» Sreebny nous dit par ailleurs que si les US-made people de l’IZ ne veulent pas bouffer irakien, c’est pour ne pas priver les Irakiens. Not fair.)

Finalement, l’ingénuité américaniste a repris le dessus et la crise de la bonne bouffe aurait été résolue. Patatras. C’est pour apprendre qu’une autre crise se trouvait en cours. Elle concerne le monstre de Bagdad, l’ambassade US de Bagdad (aussi grande que le Vatican, 24 bâtiments, autour de 1.000 employés selon les estimations initiales). Question de fric, cette fois.

Voici donc quelques nouvelles sur les “scènes de la vie quotidienne in …”

«…Meanwhile, a massive U.S. Embassy compound — 24 buildings on 104 acres inside the zone, the biggest and most expensive embassy in the world — is under construction and due for completion in August.

»Although the State Department has not budged from an original embassy price tag of $592 million, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) complained two weeks ago to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of a “growing size in costs” and a staffing increase of more than 30 percent since Congress approved the State Department's plans two years ago. Leahy chairs the appropriations subcommittee in charge of the foreign operations budget.

»“We have 1,000 Americans at the embassy in Baghdad,” Leahy told Rice at a hearing. “You add the contractors and the local staff, it comes to 4,000… a deviation from the plan that we'd agreed to.” According to Senate staffers, operating costs now total $1.2 billon a year.

»Recently, the zone's tranquility has been shattered by a rash of mortar attacks over the walls. This month, embassy staffers were ordered to wear helmets and flak jackets while outdoors or in unprotected buildings. On Saturday, the “palace pool area . . . chairs and lounges, outside dining area, ping-pong tables, etc.” were all placed off-limits until further notice “due to the threat of indirect fire (IDF) against the Embassy compound,” according to a security notice sent to all embassy personnel.

»As if security threats and overcrowding weren't enough, now the food is under threat. Asked about the convoy problems, Col. Steven A. Boylan, spokesman for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, cited bad weather in Kuwait and along the routes north. “Visibility was very poor and [it] would not have been safe to drive,” Boylan said in an e-mail.

»The embassy food is supplied under a U.S. government contract with Houston-based KBR, which separately provides similar services to the military.

»Sreebny, who said on Tuesday that the last supply trucks arrived in Baghdad two weeks prior, attributed the delays to paperwork problems on the border, traffic jams and “security issues.” He said the embassy stocks three weeks of non-perishable food for use in the event of emergency, so no one was yet in danger of MREs.

»The Bush administration's Iraq strategy includes an effort to boost the economy and create jobs in Iraq, and Iraqi factories hope to begin shipping manufactured products to U.S. retailers later this year. But security concerns bar any purchase of Iraqi food, and even Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. military are fed with imports. In addition, Sreebny said, “if we're buying [local] food in large quantities it means that less is available for the citizens of Iraq. It's not fair to them.“

»In any case, American personnel assigned to the embassy are promised American food — although Kuwaiti bottled water is acceptable.

»“This has happened before, in terms of convoys,” Sreebny said, although “this one may be a little bit longer than in the past. Then the food comes and we all gorge ourselves on apples and oranges and bananas again.”

»In an e-mail update last night, Sreebny reported that the looming crisis was at least partially averted. “Some trucks have arrived at our embassy and are being unloaded even as I write.”»

Mis en ligne le 30 mai 2007 à 10H36