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12 October 2003

Pax is back in Iraq and so is Suzanne G.

Salam Pax is back from his book-promoting and interviewing tour with two or three juicy posts about his adventures in London and the difficulties ordinary Iraqis have in getting out of or back into their country.

In an unrelated story, Suzanne Goldberg, who covered the build-up and opening stages of the war from Baghdad for the Guardian, has also returned to Iraq, and reports on some of the ironies (if you want to call it that) of the coalition occupation:
"A more substantial assault on Saddam's legacy is under way in the Republican Palace, where the occupation authority is making preparations to dismantle the food distribution system which gave free rations of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to every Iraqi.
"Described by the UN as the world's most efficient food network, the system still keeps Iraqis from going hungry. But the US civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, views it as a dangerous socialist anachronism. The coalition provisional authority (CPA) is planning to abolish it in January, despite warnings from its own technical experts that this could lead to hunger and riots."

However, she reports, the coalition has decided that there is nothing anachronistic about Saddam's security network, so many old Ba'athist intelligence officers and secret police are being brought back by the new coalition run Iraq police force, along with, no doubt, their old corrupt and brutal practices. And, just for a laugh, the former second-in-command of the Iraqi Information Ministry has been hired by - wait for it - Fox News!

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