Irak: Ah, le bon vieux temps de Saddam! (Bagdad worst: Guess who’s got the curse of Google auto-complete this year ?)

https://i0.wp.com/www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/images/saddam_baathist_propaganda.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/planetgroupentertainment.squarespace.com/storage/SaddamHussein.jpgJe pense (qu’il s’agit d’une guerre civile, ndlr), étant donné le niveau de violence, de meurtres, d’amertume, et la façon dont les forces se dressent les unes contres les autres. Il y a quelques années, lorsqu’il y avait une lutte au Liban ou ailleurs, on appelait cela une guerre civile. C’est bien pire. Ils avaient un dictateur brutal, mais ils avaient leurs rues, ils pouvaient sortir, leurs enfants pouvaient aller à l’école et en revenir sans que leurs parents ne se demandent ‘Vais-je revoir mon enfant ?’ (…) Les choses n’ont pas marché comme ils (les Etats-Unis et leurs alliés, ndlr) l’espéraient et il est essentiel d’avoir un regard critique  (…)  le gouvernement irakien n’a pas été capable de mettre la violence sous contrôle. (…) En tant que secrétaire général, j’ai fais tout ce que j’ai pu. Kofi Annan
Si du temps de Saddam Hussein, le chômage sévissait déjà et l’eau et d’électricité manquaient, les problèmes étaient d’une moindre ampleur et mieux gérés. La sécurité, elle, s’est totalement détériorée depuis l’invasion de l’Irak, menée en 2003 par une coalition conduite par les Etats-Unis. Pourtant, Bagdad a une histoire glorieuse. Construite en 762 sur les rives du Tigre par le calife abbasside Abou Jaafar al-Mansour, la ville a depuis joué un rôle central dans le monde arabo-musulman. Au 20e siècle, Bagdad était le brillant exemple d’une ville arabe moderne avec certaines des meilleurs universités et musées de la région, une élite bien formée, un centre culturel dynamique et un système de santé haut de gamme. Son aéroport international était un modèle pour la région et la ville a connu la naissance de l’Opep, le cartel des pays exportateurs de pétrole. La ville abritait en outre une population de différentes confessions: musulmans, chrétiens, juifs et autres. « Bagdad représentait le centre économique de l’Etat abbasside », souligne Issam al-Faili, professeur d’histoire politique à l’université Moustansiriyah, un établissement vieux de huit siècles. Il rappelle qu’elle a « servi de base à la conquête de régions voisines pour élargir l’influence de l’islam ». »Elle était une capitale du monde », dit, avec fierté, l’universitaire, qui admet qu' »aujourd’hui, elle est devenue l’une des villes les plus misérables de la planète ». AFP
Every expat I know here is mystified by that data. I’d be hard-pressed to find an expat (not a lot of them around admittedly) who believes that’s the case, apart from the prisoners of the Green Zone — the embassy people, U.N. staff and others who can’t actually get out into the city. Jane Arraf (freelance journalist)
The Iraqi capital has beaten out 222 other locations to be named the city with the lowest quality of life for expats in the entire world. Baghdad is so bad, according to Mercer, that companies should pay people a considerable amount extra to live there. As Hannibal explained to me, companies would likely have to pay an employee an extra 35-40 percent on top of their base salary as compensation for the poor quality of life in Iraq – that some companies might go as high as 50 percent in cash or other services. Worse still, Baghdad is a persistent worst offender in Mercer’s data, gradually falling down the rankings since 2001 and ranking last since 2004. It’s even acquired the curse of Google Auto-complete: Type « Baghdad Worst » into the search engine, and « Baghdad worst place to live » and « Baghdad worst city » appear. The Washington Post
Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents. To ensure that compensation packages reflect the local environment appropriately, employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate. In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies. This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with. European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year. Several cities in Central and South America are still attractive to expatriates due to their relatively stable political environments, improving infrastructure, and pleasant climate. But many locations remain challenging due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes often hitting the region, as well as local economic inequality and high crime rates. Companies placing their workers on expatriate assignments in these locations must ensure that hardship allowances reflect the lower levels of quality of living. The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organisations and expatriates. Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding, keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities. However, some cities that might not have been very attractive to foreign companies are making efforts to attract them. Slagin Parakatil (Senior Researcher at Mercer)
The abysmal Iraq results forecast what could happen in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have so far spent $90 billion in reconstruction projects during a 12-year military campaign that is slated to end, for the most part, in 2014. Shortly after the March 2003 invasion, Congress set up a $2.4 billion fund to help ease the sting of war for Iraqis. It aimed to rebuild Iraq’s water and electricity systems; provide food, health care and governance for its people; and take care of those who were forced from their homes in the fighting. Less than six months later, President George W. Bush asked for $20 billion more to further stabilize Iraq and help turn it into an ally that could gain economic independence and reap global investments. To date, the U.S. has spent more than $60 billion in reconstruction grants to help Iraq get back on its feet after the country was broken by more than two decades of war, sanctions and dictatorship. That works out to about $15 million a day. And yet Iraq’s government is rife with corruption and infighting. Baghdad’s streets are still cowed by near-daily deadly bombings. A quarter of the country’s 31 million population lives in poverty, and few have reliable electricity and clean water. Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate committee that oversees U.S. funding, said the Bush administration should have agreed to give the reconstruction money to Iraq as a loan in 2003 instead as an outright gift. « It’s been an extraordinarily disappointing effort and, largely, a failed program, » Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview Tuesday. « I believe, had the money been structured as a loan in the first place, that we would have seen a far more responsible approach to how the money was used, and lower levels of corruption in far fewer ways. » (…) Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, who was the top U.S. military commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said, « It would have been better to hold off spending large sums of money » until the country stabilized. About a third of the $60 billion was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, which had to be rebuilt after the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded Saddam’s army in 2003. Today, Iraqi forces have varying successes in safekeeping the public and only limited ability to secure their land, air and sea borders. The report also cites Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq weakened U.S. influence in Baghdad. Panetta has since left office: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel took over the defense job last week. Washington is eyeing a similar military drawdown next year in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have spent $90 billion so far on rebuilding projects. The Afghanistan effort risks falling into the same problems that mired Iraq if oversight isn’t coordinated better. In Iraq, officials were too eager to build in the middle of a civil war, and too often raced ahead without solid plans or back-up plans, the report concluded. CBS news

Oubliez Damas ! Oubliez Grozny ! (sans parler de Tbilisi ou bientôt Kiev ?)

A l’heure où, après les dérives catastrophiques des années Bush, une Russie reconnaissante se réjouit du retour au bercail de sa province perdue de Crimée …

Et où sort le classement mondial des villes pour la qualité de vie par le leader mondial du conseil en ressources humaines Mercer Consulting Group …

(Vienne,  Vancouver, Pointe-à-Pitre, Singapour, Auckland, Port-Louis et Dubai contre Tbilisi, Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Dushanbe, Bangui et Bagdad) …

Comment, avec l’agence de presse nationale française AFP, ne pas être scandalisé de ce que le cowboy Bush a fait de la cité arabe modèle de Saddam

Qui, entre sa guerre et ses milliards (60 milliards de dollars de reconstruction, 800 avec la guerre !), se retrouve onze ans après… pire ville du monde ?

Jadis cité arabe modèle, Bagdad devient la pire ville au monde

Le Nouvel Observateur

AFPPar Salam FARAJ | AFP

21 mars 2014

Cité modèle dans le monde arabe jusqu’aux années 1970, Bagdad est devenue, après des décennies de conflits, la pire ville au monde en matière de qualité de vie.

La capitale irakienne -édifiée sur les rives du Tigre il y a 1.250 ans et jadis un centre intellectuel, économique et politique de renommée mondiale- est arrivée en 223e et dernière position du classement 2014 sur la qualité de vie, établi par le leader mondial du conseil en ressources humaines Mercer Consulting Group.

Ce classement tient compte de l’environnement social, politique et économique de la ville, qui compte 8,5 millions d’habitants, ainsi que des critères relatifs à la santé et l’éducation.

Et à Bagdad, les habitants doivent faire face à une multitude de problèmes: attentats quasi-quotidiens, pénurie d’électricité et d’eau potable, mauvais système d?égouts, embouteillages réguliers et taux de chômage élevé.

Si du temps de Saddam Hussein, le chômage sévissait déjà et l’eau et d’électricité manquaient, les problèmes étaient d’une moindre ampleur et mieux gérés.

La sécurité, elle, s’est totalement détériorée depuis l’invasion de l’Irak, menée en 2003 par une coalition conduite par les Etats-Unis.

« Nous vivons dans des casernes », se plaint Hamid al-Daraji, un vendeur, en évoquant les nombreux points de contrôle, les murs en béton anti-explosion et le déploiement massif des forces de sécurité.

« Riches et pauvres partagent la même souffrance », ajoute-t-il. « Le riche peut être à tout moment la cible d’une attaque à l’explosif, d’un rapt ou d’un assassinat, tout comme le pauvre ».

Pourtant, Bagdad a une histoire glorieuse.

Construite en 762 sur les rives du Tigre par le calife abbasside Abou Jaafar al-Mansour, la ville a depuis joué un rôle central dans le monde arabo-musulman.

Au 20e siècle, Bagdad était le brillant exemple d’une ville arabe moderne avec certaines des meilleurs universités et musées de la région, une élite bien formée, un centre culturel dynamique et un système de santé haut de gamme.

Son aéroport international était un modèle pour la région et la ville a connu la naissance de l’Opep, le cartel des pays exportateurs de pétrole.

La ville abritait en outre une population de différentes confessions: musulmans, chrétiens, juifs et autres.

« Bagdad représentait le centre économique de l’Etat abbasside », souligne Issam al-Faili, professeur d’histoire politique à l’université Moustansiriyah, un établissement vieux de huit siècles.

Il rappelle qu’elle a « servi de base à la conquête de régions voisines pour élargir l’influence de l’islam ».

– ‘Bagdad, la belle, en ruines’ –

« Elle était une capitale du monde », dit, avec fierté, l’universitaire, qui admet qu' »aujourd’hui, elle est devenue l’une des villes les plus misérables de la planète ».

L’Irak connaît depuis un an une recrudescence des violences, alimentées par le ressentiment de la minorité sunnite face au gouvernement dominé par les chiites, et par le conflit en Syrie voisine. Depuis le début 2014, plus de 1.900 personnes ont été tuées.

Face aux violences, les forces de sécurité installent de nouveaux points de contrôle, qui pullulent déjà à Bagdad, et imposent des restrictions au trafic routier. Des murs massifs en béton, conçus pour résister à l’impact des explosions, divisent des quartiers confessionnellement mixtes.

Certains tentent de nettoyer et d’embellir la ville mais reconnaissent la difficulté de la mission.

« Les gouvernements successifs n’ont pas travaillé pour développer Bagdad », regrette Amir al-Chalabi, chef d’une ONG, la Humanitarian Construction Organisation, qui mène campagne pour améliorer les services de base dans la ville.

« La nuit, elle se transforme en une ville fantôme car elle manque d’éclairage », note-t-il.

Des câbles électriques pendent dans les rues où des particuliers gérant de générateurs fournissent, contre rémunération, du courant électrique, compensant ainsi les défaillances du réseau public. Et en raison du réseau limité des égouts, les rues de la capitale sont inondées dès les premières pluies.

Et malgré une économie en forte croissance grâce au pétrole, en pleine reprise, ce secteur n’est pas générateur d’emplois pour enrayer le taux de chômage dans le pays, y compris dans la capitale.

« Les problèmes de Bagdad sont innombrables. Bagdad la belle est aujourd’hui en ruines », se lamente Hamid al-Daraji.

Voir aussi:

Why do people choose to live in the ‘worst city in the world?’

Adam Taylor

The Washington Post

February 26 2014

Human resources consulting firm Mercer recently crunched the numbers on dozens of factors about life for an expatriate. The aim? To calculate exactly how much extra international firms should be willing to pay their employees when asking them to move to undesirable locations.(While Mercer wouldn’t release the precise data, Ed Hannibal, a global mobility leader at the company, said that factors involved included such concerns as security, infrastructure and the availability of international goods).

While the data has its practical uses, it has another, more viral, function too: Ranking the « best » and « worst » cities for quality of life in the entire world.

For example, it turns out that expats asked to move to Austria are pretty lucky: Vienna ranked top of the list for expats, followed by Zurich, Auckland, Munich and Vancouver. For all of these cities, Hannibal told me, quality of life was so good that companies were recommended to not pay employees there any hardship costs at all.

But down at the other end of the scale, it’s a different story. According to Mercer, companies should be willing to pay top dollar for some cities, and none more so than Baghdad.

Yes, the Iraqi capital has beaten out 222 other locations to be named the city with the lowest quality of life for expats in the entire world.

Baghdad is so bad, according to Mercer, that companies should pay people a considerable amount extra to live there. As Hannibal explained to me, companies would likely have to pay an employee an extra 35-40 percent on top of their base salary as compensation for the poor quality of life in Iraq – that some companies might go as high as 50 percent in cash or other services. Worse still, Baghdad is a persistent worst offender in Mercer’s data, gradually falling down the rankings since 2001 and ranking last since 2004. It’s even acquired the curse of Google Auto-complete: Type « Baghdad Worst » into the search engine, and « Baghdad worst place to live » and « Baghdad worst city » appear.

Could a bustling city of 6 million people really be the worst city in the world? To get a better perspective on it, I reached out to a few Baghdad expats, people who, unlike most Iraqis, made a choice to live in Iraq. Surprisingly, most seemed to be aware that they were apparently living in the worst place they could live.

« I know exactly which survey you mean, » said one person who has lived in Baghdad for five years and asked not to be named. « I have often thought of that survey when I take the direct Austrian air flight from Baghdad to Vienna, thereby going from the worst city to the best city in the world in a matter of a few hours. »

Others, however, were quick to argue that the poll didn’t reflect the Baghdad they knew. « Every expat I know here is mystified by that data, » said Jane Arraf, a freelance journalist who has spent many years in the city. « I’d be hard-pressed to find an expat (not a lot of them around admittedly) who believes that’s the case, apart from the prisoners of the Green Zone — the embassy people, U.N. staff and others who can’t actually get out into the city. »

It seems obvious, of course, that Baghdad is a more dangerous place than Vienna: More than 1,000 people were killed in attacks last month, for example. And surely luxury goods would be easier to find in a Western city (when I asked one Baghdad resident about the availability of international goods, they e-mailed back: « hahahahahahahaha »).

« In a sense, almost anything an Iraqi could want can be obtained, » Raoul Henri Alcala, a private businessman who has lived in the city for 10 years explains, « although often at a high price that also often includes payments to facilitators that can best be described as blatant corruption. »

Alcala, who once worked for the Iraqi government and now runs his own consulting firm, lives in the « Green Zone » and says that while his choice of location is safer than the outside city (the « Red Zone »), his location provides its own difficulties. « Shops do exist in the Zone selling food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and minor comfort items, » Alcala says. « Everything else has to be purchased outside, and can be brought into the Zone only after a laborious written authorization is requested and received. » Popular restaurants, markets and liquor stores outside the Green Zone have become targets for terror attacks, according to Alcala.

Alcala says that he has never lived in a city with a comparable « level of uncertainty and difficulty. » There do appear to be rivals, however, for Baghdad’s « worst city » crown. In the Mercer data, it narrowly beats out Bangui in the Central African Republic, Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, N’Djamena in Chad and Sana’a in Yemen. Plus, there are more than 223 cities on Earth. It’s plausible that one of these unlisted locations is « worse » than Baghdad (and, for what it’s worth, rival data from the Economist Intelligence Unit states that Damascus was the worst place in the world to live).

Baghdad’s place at the bottom of the list is a little more depressing when you consider that much of the lack of infrastructure and chaotic security situation can at least partially be blamed on eight years of U.S.-led war (the U.S. government has spent $60 billion in civilian reconstruction to be fair, though much of it is thought to have been wasted). That weight must affect some expats in Baghdad: One told me that she « felt a sense of responsibility to clean up the mess that George Bush made. » On the other hand, others explained that the potential for personal remuneration was likely a serious motive for many expats.

Ultimately, people who choose to live in a place like Baghdad probably do so for a complicated set of reasons. As Arraf puts it, there are two types of people in the world: The « you couldn’t pay me enough to do this » types, and the « I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this » types. The latter should probably ignore Mercer’s data.

Voir enfin:

Baghdad Now World’s Worst City

AlJazeerah.net

3-3-4

Baghdad has been rated the world’s worst city to live in.

A new study by a UK research company puts the occupied Iraqi capital last of 215 cities it profiled throughout the world.

Mercer Human Resource Consulting based its overall quality of life survey on political, social, economic and environmental factors, as well as personal safety, health, education, transport and other public services.

It was compiled to help governments and major companies to place employees on international assignments.

The study, released on Monday, said Baghdad is now the world’s least attractive city for expatriates.

Top Swiss cities

Placed 213th out of 215 cities last year, Baghdad’s rating has dropped due to ongoing concerns over security and the city’s precarious infrastructure.

The survey revealed that Zurich and Geneva are the world’s top-rated urban centres.

The rating takes into account the cities’ schools, where standards of education are now considered among the best in the world.

Cities in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia continue to dominate the top of the rankings.

Vienna shares third place with Vancouver, while Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Sydney are joint fifth.

US cities slide

However, US cities have slipped in the rankings this year as tighter restrictions have been imposed on entry to the country.

Several US cities now also have to deal with increased security checks as a result of the « war on terror ».

Meanwhile, other poor-scoring cities for overall quality of life include Bangui in the Central African Republic, and Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in Congo.

Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil said: « The threat of terrorism in the Middle East and the political and economic turmoil in African countries has increased the disparity between cities at the top and the bottom end of the rankings. »

Voir encore:

Much of $60B from U.S. to rebuild Iraq wasted, special auditor’s final report to Congress shows

CBS news

APMarch 6, 2013

WASHINGTON Ten years and $60 billion in American taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation were worth the cost.

In his final report to Congress, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen’s conclusion was all too clear: Since the invasion a decade ago this month, the U.S. has spent too much money in Iraq for too few results.

The reconstruction effort « grew to a size much larger than was ever anticipated, » Bowen told The Associated Press in a preview of his last audit of U.S. funds spent in Iraq, to be released Wednesday. « Not enough was accomplished for the size of the funds expended. »

In interviews with Bowen, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the U.S. funding « could have brought great change in Iraq » but fell short too often. « There was misspending of money, » said al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim whose sect makes up about 60 percent of Iraq’s population.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, the country’s top Sunni Muslim official, told auditors that the rebuilding efforts « had unfavorable outcomes in general. »

« You think if you throw money at a problem, you can fix it, » Kurdish government official Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, told auditors. « It was just not strategic thinking. »

The abysmal Iraq results forecast what could happen in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have so far spent $90 billion in reconstruction projects during a 12-year military campaign that is slated to end, for the most part, in 2014.

Shortly after the March 2003 invasion, Congress set up a $2.4 billion fund to help ease the sting of war for Iraqis. It aimed to rebuild Iraq’s water and electricity systems; provide food, health care and governance for its people; and take care of those who were forced from their homes in the fighting. Less than six months later, President George W. Bush asked for $20 billion more to further stabilize Iraq and help turn it into an ally that could gain economic independence and reap global investments.

To date, the U.S. has spent more than $60 billion in reconstruction grants to help Iraq get back on its feet after the country was broken by more than two decades of war, sanctions and dictatorship. That works out to about $15 million a day.

And yet Iraq’s government is rife with corruption and infighting. Baghdad’s streets are still cowed by near-daily deadly bombings. A quarter of the country’s 31 million population lives in poverty, and few have reliable electricity and clean water.

Overall, including all military and diplomatic costs and other aid, the U.S. has spent at least $767 billion since the American-led invasion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. National Priorities Project, a U.S. research group that analyzes federal data, estimated the cost at $811 billion, noting that some funds are still being spent on ongoing projects.

Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate committee that oversees U.S. funding, said the Bush administration should have agreed to give the reconstruction money to Iraq as a loan in 2003 instead as an outright gift.

« It’s been an extraordinarily disappointing effort and, largely, a failed program, » Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview Tuesday. « I believe, had the money been structured as a loan in the first place, that we would have seen a far more responsible approach to how the money was used, and lower levels of corruption in far fewer ways. »

In numerous interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials, and though multiple examples of thwarted or defrauded projects, Bowen’s report laid bare a trail of waste, including:

–In Iraq’s eastern Diyala province, a crossroads for Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents and Kurdish squatters, the U.S. began building a 3,600-bed prison in 2004 but abandoned the project after three years to flee a surge in violence. The half-completed Khan Bani Sa’ad Correctional Facility cost American taxpayers $40 million but sits in rubble, and Iraqi Justice Ministry officials say they have no plans to ever finish or use it.

–Subcontractors for Anham LLC, based in Vienna, Va., overcharged the U.S. government thousands of dollars for supplies, including $900 for a control switch valued at $7.05 and $80 for a piece of pipe that costs $1.41. Anham was hired to maintain and operate warehouses and supply centers near Baghdad’s international airport and the Persian Gulf port at Umm Qasr.

–A $108 million wastewater treatment center in the city of Fallujah, a former al Qaeda stronghold in western Iraq, will have taken eight years longer to build than planned when it is completed in 2014 and will only service 9,000 homes. Iraqi officials must provide an additional $87 million to hook up most of the rest of the city, or 25,000 additional homes.

–After blowing up the al-Fatah bridge in north-central Iraq during the invasion and severing a crucial oil and gas pipeline, U.S. officials decided to try to rebuild the pipeline under the Tigris River, at a cost of $75 million. A geological study predicted the project might fail, and it did: Eventually, the bridge and pipelines were repaired at an additional cost of $29 million.

–A widespread ring of fraud led by a former U.S. Army officer resulted in tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks and the criminal convictions of 22 people connected to government contracts for bottled water and other supplies at the Iraqi reconstruction program’s headquarters at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

In too many cases, Bowen concluded, U.S. officials did not consult with Iraqis closely or deeply enough to determine what reconstruction projects were really needed or, in some cases, wanted. As a result, Iraqis took limited interest in the work, often walking away from half-finished programs, refusing to pay their share, or failing to maintain completed projects once they were handed over.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite, described the projects as well intentioned, but poorly prepared and inadequately supervised.

The missed opportunities were not lost on at least 15 senior State and Defense department officials interviewed in the report, including ambassadors and generals, who were directly involved in rebuilding Iraq.

One key lesson learned in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told auditors, is that the U.S. cannot expect to « do it all and do it our way. We must share the burden better multilaterally and engage the host country constantly on what is truly needed. »

Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, who was the top U.S. military commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said, « It would have been better to hold off spending large sums of money » until the country stabilized.

About a third of the $60 billion was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, which had to be rebuilt after the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded Saddam’s army in 2003. Today, Iraqi forces have varying successes in safekeeping the public and only limited ability to secure their land, air and sea borders.

The report also cites Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying that the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq weakened U.S. influence in Baghdad. Panetta has since left office: Former Sen. Chuck Hagel took over the defense job last week. Washington is eyeing a similar military drawdown next year in Afghanistan, where U.S. taxpayers have spent $90 billion so far on rebuilding projects.

The Afghanistan effort risks falling into the same problems that mired Iraq if oversight isn’t coordinated better. In Iraq, officials were too eager to build in the middle of a civil war, and too often raced ahead without solid plans or back-up plans, the report concluded.

Most of the work was done in piecemeal fashion, as no single government agency had responsibility for all of the money spent. The State Department, for example, was supposed to oversee reconstruction strategy starting in 2004, but controlled only about 10 percent of the money at stake. The Defense Department paid for the vast majority of the projects — 75 percent.

Voir par ailleurs:

2014 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings – Mercer survey

United States , New York

Publication date: 19 February 2014


Vienna is the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2014 Quality of Living rankings, in which European cities dominate. Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively. Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which is also the highest-ranking city in North America. Ranking 25 globally, Singapore is the highest-ranking Asian city, whereas Dubai (73) ranks first across Middle East and Africa. The city of Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, takes the top spot for Central and South America.

Mercer conducts its Quality of Living survey annually to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium. A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations, whereas a mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country. Mercer’s Quality of Living reports provide valuable information and hardship premium recommendations for over 460 cities throughout the world, the ranking covers 223 of these cities.

Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents. To ensure that compensation packages reflect the local environment appropriately, employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate,” said Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer.

Mr Parakatil added: “In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies. This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with.”

Europe

Vienna is the highest-ranking city globally. In Europe, it is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Düsseldorf (6), and Frankfurt (7). “European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year,” said Mr Parakatil.

Ranking 191 overall, Tbilisi, Georgia, is the lowest-ranking city in Europe. It continues to improve in its quality of living, mainly due to a growing availability of consumer goods, improving internal stability, and developing infrastructure. Other cities on the lower end of Europe’s ranking include: Minsk (189), Belarus; Yerevan (180), Armenia; Tirana (179), Albania; and St Petersburg (168), Russia. Ranking 107, Wroclaw, Poland, is an emerging European city. Since Poland’s accession to the European Union, Wroclaw has witnessed tangible economic growth, partly due to its talent pool, improved infrastructure, and foreign and internal direct investments. The EU named Wroclaw as a European Capital of Culture for 2016.

Americas

Canadian cities dominate North America’s top-five list. Ranking fifth globally, Vancouver tops the regional list, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15), Montreal (23), and San Francisco (27). The region’s lowest-ranking city is Mexico City (122), preceded by four US cities: Detroit (70), St. Louis (67), Houston (66), and Miami (65). Mr Parakatil commented: “On the whole, North American cities offer a high quality of living and are attractive working destinations for companies and their expatriates. A wide range of consumer goods are available, and infrastructures, including recreational provisions, are excellent.

In Central and South America, the quality of living varies substantially. Pointe-à-Pitre (69), Guadeloupe, is the region’s highest-ranked city, followed by San Juan (72), Montevideo (77), Buenos Aires (81), and Santiago (93). Manaus (125), Brazil, has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region due to its major industrial centre which has seen the creation of the “Free Economic Zone of Manaus,” an area with administrative autonomy giving Manaus a competitive advantage over other cities in the region. This zone has attracted talent from other cities and regions, with several multinational companies already settled in the area and more expected to arrive in the near future.

Several cities in Central and South America are still attractive to expatriates due to their relatively stable political environments, improving infrastructure, and pleasant climate,” said Mr Parakatil. “But many locations remain challenging due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes often hitting the region, as well as local economic inequality and high crime rates. Companies placing their workers on expatriate assignments in these locations must ensure that hardship allowances reflect the lower levels of quality of living.

Asia Pacific

Singapore (25) has the highest quality of living in Asia, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo (43), Kobe (47), Yokohama (49), and Osaka (57). Dushanbe (209), Tajikistan, is the lowest-ranking city in the region. Mr Parakatil commented: “Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard amongst its cities than any other region. For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of living is continually improving. But for others, such as some in China, issues like pervasive poor air pollution are eroding their quality of living.

With their considerable growth in the last decade, many second-tier Asian cities are starting to emerge as important places of business for multinational companies. Examples include Cheonan (98), South Korea, which is strategically located in an area where several technology companies have operations. Over the past decades, Pune (139), India has developed into an education hub and home to IT, other high-tech industries, and automobile manufacturing. The city of Xian (141), China has also witnessed some major developments, such as the establishment of an “Economic and Technological Development Zone” to attract foreign investments. The city is also host to various financial services, consulting, and computer services.

Elsewhere, New Zealand and Australian cities rank high on the list for quality of living, with Auckland and Sydney ranking 3 and 10, respectively.

Middle East and Africa

With a global rank of 73, Dubai is the highest-ranked city in the Middle East and Africa region. It is followed by Abu Dhabi (78), UAE; Port Louis (82), Mauritius; and Durban (85) and Cape Town (90), South Africa. Durban has been identified as an example of an emerging city in this region, due to the growth of its manufacturing industries and the increasing importance of the shipping port. Generally, though, this region dominates the lower end of the quality of living ranking, with five out of the bottom six cities; Baghdad (223) has the lowest overall ranking.

The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organisations and expatriates. Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding, keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities. However, some cities that might not have been very attractive to foreign companies are making efforts to attract them,” said Mr Parakatil.

Notes for Editors

Mercer produces worldwide quality-of-living rankings annually from its most recent Worldwide Quality of Living Surveys. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Comparative quality-of-living indexes between a base city and a host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Details are available from Mercer Client Services in Warsaw, at +48 22 434 5383 or at www.mercer.com/qualityofliving.

The data was largely collected between September and November 2013, and will be updated regularly to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments will be revised to reflect significant political, economic, and environmental developments.

Expatriates in difficult locations: Determining appropriate allowances and incentives

Companies need to be able to determine their expatriate compensation packages rationally, consistently and systematically. Providing incentives to reward and recognise the efforts that employees and their families make when taking on international assignments remains a typical practice, particularly for difficult locations. Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium:

  • A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.
  • A mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country.

A quality-of-living allowance is typically location-related, while a mobility premium is usually independent of the host location. Some multinational companies combine these premiums, but the vast majority provides them separately.

Quality of Living: City benchmarking

Mercer also helps municipalities assess factors that can improve their quality of living rankings. In a global environment, employers have many choices as to where to deploy their mobile employees and set up new business. A city’s quality of living standards can be an important variable for employers to consider.

Leaders in many cities want to understand the specific factors that affect their residents’ quality of living and address those issues that lower their city’s overall quality-of-living ranking. Mercer advises municipalities through a holistic approach that addresses their goals of progressing towards excellence, and attracting multinational companies and globally mobile talent by improving the elements that are measured in its Quality of Living survey.

Mercer hardship allowance recommendations

Mercer evaluates local living conditions in more than 460 cities it surveys worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:

  • Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services)
  • Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
  • Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
  • Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
  • Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc)
  • Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
  • Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
  • Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
  • Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

The scores attributed to each factor, which are weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, allow for objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a quality of living index that compares relative differences between any two locations evaluated. For the indices to be used effectively, Mercer has created a grid that allows users to link the resulting index to a quality of living allowance amount by recommending a percentage value in relation to the index.

Voir enfin:

The 10 worst cities in the world to live in

The Economist

Friday 30 August 2013

Damascus in Syria is the worst city in the world to live in, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking.

Cities across the world are awarded scores depending on lifestyle challenges faced by the people living there. Each city is scored on its stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Since the Arab Spring in 2011, Syria has been plagued with destruction and violence as rebels fight government forces. The country has been left battle-scarred with around 2 million people fleeing from country, while Damascus has been the source of much recent tension.

Other cities that have made it onto worst cities the list include Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria. Third worst city to live in was Port Moresby in Papa New Guinea, surprisingly Melbourne and Sydney in neighbouring nation Australia were ranked in the top 10 cities in the world to live in.

Click here to see the top 10 cities in the world

2. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The country has faced controversy recently after a garment factory collapsed killing over 1,000 people

2. Dhaka in Bangladesh: The country has faced controversy recently after a garment factory collapsed killing over 1,000 people

3. Moresby, Papa New Guinea: Despite recent growth, most people live in extreme poverty

3. Moresby, Papa New Guinea: Despite recent growth, most people live in extreme poverty

4. Lagos, Nigeria: The city rated poorly in The Economist Intelligence Unit's report and was awarded the lowest score for stability in the bottom 10 countries to live in

4. Lagos, Nigeria: The city rated poorly in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s report and was awarded the lowest score for stability

5. Harare, Zimbabwe: With the continuing economic and political crises that face the country, Harare is the fifth worst city to live in.

5. Harare, Zimbabwe: With the continuing economic and political crises that face the country, Harare is the fifth worst city to live in.  

6. Algiers, Algeria: While it rates more highly for its stability, there are terrorist groups that are active in the city. While conflict and natural disasters have left the old town in ruins

6. Algiers, Algeria: While it rates more highly for its stability, there are terrorist groups that are active in the city

7. Karachi, Pakistan: Violence linked to terrorism and high homicide rates makes this city one of the worst places in the world to live in

7. Karachi, Pakistan: Violence linked to terrorism and high homicide rates makes this city one of the worst places in the world to live in  

8. Tripoli, Libya: Since the Arab Spring in 2011 there has been violence and protests in the city

8. Tripoli, Libya: Since the Arab Spring in 2011 there has been violence and protests in the city

9. Douala, Cameroon: Despite being the richest city in the whole of Central Africa, Douala has scored the lowest for health care in the bottom 10 cities

9. Douala, Cameroon: Despite being the richest city in the whole of Central Africa, Douala has scored the lowest for health care in the bottom 10 cities

10. Tehran, Iran: While the city rates highly on health care and education, Tehran did not score so well on infrastructure.

10. Tehran, Iran: While the city rates highly on health care and education, Tehran did not score so well on infrastructure.

4 commentaires pour Irak: Ah, le bon vieux temps de Saddam! (Bagdad worst: Guess who’s got the curse of Google auto-complete this year ?)

  1. […] du Munichois en chef de la Maison Blanche, les belles âmes qui avaient hurlé contre Bush et regretté Saddam nous ressortent leurs arguments les plus éculés contre la démocratisation d’une des […]

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    BACK IN THE GOOD OLD SADDAM DAYS

    The prison chamber was similar to detention rooms in Iraqi embassies around the world, including Eastern Europe and Arab countries, where evidence of torture was uncovered, the officials said. Some of the “Gestapo”-like tactics employed by the Mukhabarat involved the use of copper wire, rubber hoses and wooden planks. They would also pull out prisoners’ nails and beat them to a pulp, one official said. In many cases, the Mukhabarat would kill Iraqis and ship them back to Baghdad in Customs-exempt packages. “They just put [the body] in a diplomatic box and it can just be shipped. This is diplomatic – nobody has the authority to examine it or open it,” one official said, confirming that Saddam’s secret police had committed such atrocities in countries outside the US. “Mukhabarat does whatever the hell Mukhabarat needs to do. They are the last people you ever wanted to meet during the Saddam era,” one official said, referring to acts of violence.

    But all evidence of such maltreatment was hauled away – the officials believe – when federal investigators stormed the mission after Saddam’s dramatic fall in 2003 during the American invasion of Iraq…

    http://nypost.com/2016/10/12/inside-saddam-husseins-secret-nyc-torture-chamber/

    J'aime

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion / Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion / Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :