Marines Try to Wean Iraq From US Pocketbook

Saddam-era budget network can't provide to expanded security forces
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2008 1:11 PM CDT
In this Sunday, April 8, 2007 file photo, a U.S. marine watches children play in Ramadi, in Iraq's Anbar province, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad.   (AP Photo/Todd Pitman)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – As Iraq becomes safer, the Marines have focused on the next challenge: weaning the country’s security forces off US financial and logistical support, USA Today reports. To spur the independence of the nascent Iraqi police, the Marines now refuse to refuel their vehicles, and it's gotten the Iraqis' attention. "Things get real hard and they go, 'OK, we've got to fix this ourselves,'" says a Marine major general.

Iraq’s police have no system for storing or distributing fuel, forcing them to find workarounds ranging from more foot patrols to buying gas with IOUs. Though the Iraqi government will make $63 billion from oil this year, its budgeting system is a relic from the days of Saddam Hussein—designed, because of UN sanctions, to hoard funds in central government. "They need to get a system in place so the money flows to the ministries, the provinces, and the local areas," says an economic coordinator in Baghdad.