The United States has deemed Arab allies eligible for
military and reconstruction contracts in Iraq.
The Defense Department has cited a range of Arab countries as having
cooperated with the U.S. effort to reconstruct Iraq. They include countries
that have opposed the U.S.-led war against the Saddam regime in March and
later refused to recognize the new government in Baghdad.
The Defense Department list of 63 countries eligible to win $18.6
billion worth of contracts from the Coalition Provisional Authority included
Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey
and the United Arab Emirates. All of these countries would be eligible to
become prime contractors in U.S.-funded projects in Iraq.
Israel has not been included on the list of countries eligible to
compete for contracts, Middle East Newsline reported. NATO allies such as Canada, France, Germany and
Russia were also not listed.
"It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests
of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these
procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners
and force contributing nations," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
said in a memorandum dated Dec. 5. "Thus, it is clearly in the public
interest to limit prime contracts to companies from these countries."
Of all the Middle East states on the list, only Turkey agreed to provide
troops to stabilize Iraq. Officials acknowledged that Egypt refused a
similar U.S. request.
"The prime contractors, however, can choose their own subcontractors,"
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "There's very few
restrictions on subcontractors. Subcontracting opportunities are available
very widely. In addition, it's important to remember this is only part of
the money that will be used for reconstruction of Iraq. This is the portion
that was appropriated by the U.S. Congress in the supplemental
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said nations that are not part of
the coalition cannot serve as prime contractors for any of the
reconstruction funds provided by Congress as part of the fiscal 2004 defense
supplemental spending bill. Di Rita the U.S.-led coalition remains open to
"There are countries that are considering, for example, the contribution
of forces to Iraq," Di Rita said. "If a country
decides to contribute forces to Iraq, they would immediately be eligible for
Kuwait has won a range of contracts to supply U.S. troops in Iraq.
Jordan has been awarded a contract for the training of Iraqi police. Egypt
has also been vying for a project to train Iraqi intelligence and security
The Pentagon decision to include Arab states as prime contractors come
as officials acknowledge difficulties in organizing the new Iraqi military.
They said about a third of Iraqi soldiers who underwent training have
resigned. Many of them complained of the low salary of $60 a month and
expressed fear of retaliation by Saddam loyalists.