US General in Iraq Claims Employment can Undermine Insurgency

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Lt. General Peter Chiarelli, the No. 2 ranking US general in Iraq, has made the assertion that providing jobs for the Iraqi people is key to ending the insurgency and stabilizing the country.

In a video teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon he said, "by creating jobs and opportunity, the Iraqi government would take away a major source of support for violent movements -- aimless, underemployed, young men who would otherwise rather be gainfully employed and supporting their families, but are laying IEDs, shooting RPGs and fighting Iraqi security forces and the coalition because they lack alternatives…. In areas where unemployment is the highest, as I go out and talk to people in those areas, and they tell me the one thing that you can do to lower the number of insurgencies is find jobs for the people. And we're committed to help both the Iraqi government and the PRTs as they go about the business of doing exactly that."

The General also said that the insurgents were taking advantage of political disputes within the Iraqi leadership as they are attempting to form an inclusive government.

Chiarelli's assertion is similar to a claim made by Lt. General John R. Vines in 2005 that insurgents often attack US forces out of a desire to earn money instead of ideology. Simple tasks, such as placing a bomb or mine, are often done in exchange for amounts as little as $100 to $150.

The estimated unemployment rate in Iraq for 2005 was 25-30%.

Opponents of the Bush administration's handling of the war say that Iraq's unemployment crisis is partially a result of decisions made by the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 to disband the Iraqi army and purge the Iraqi civil service of high-ranking members of the Baath Party. Both of these moves led to an estimated 500,000 Iraqis losing their jobs, about one out of every ten Iraqi workers at the time.