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Coalition forces in Iraq have caused irreparable damage to the ancient city of Babylon, the British Museum says.
Sandbags have been filled with precious archaeological fragments and 2,600 year old paving stones have been crushed by tanks, a museum report claims.
The US Army says the troops based in the city, some 50 miles (80km) south of Baghdad, are well aware of its historical significance.
First, take the sheer size of the Embassy. It will have a staff of 1,500, including over 500 Iraqis designated as Foreign Service Nationals (FSN). Such a large number of people -- more than half civil servants -- will inevitably demand enormous personnel coordination and organization. With so many bodies around, it'll be difficult to determine exactly who does what, and an inordinate amount of dead time will be spent deciding upon assignments and responsibilities. Even Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who set up the Baghdad embassy, acknowledges "there are technical problems, issues of different management cultures, different ways of keeping records and communicating and doing money and assigning people," while diplomatically stating that "the two lead agencies -- Defense and State -- have been really partnering.wonderfully." (Federal Times, June 28).
Protected by 15ft thick walls and ringed by military guards, it signals the seriousness of America's intentions to retain a large and long-term presence in the country. The £315 million building's existence is meant to be a secret. Any request for a comment from the US State Department is met with a terse rebuff, and a plea for a photo opportunity is deemed out of the question.
But it is impossible to keep hidden a complex that will be the size of Vatican City with the population of a small town, especially when it is lit up at nightfall to permit work on it to continue 24 hours a day.
It is only in recent weeks that Iraqis have begun to realize the new complex is being built. Last month a local newspaper became the first to write an article on it.
It questioned why the US had been given land in the centre of Baghdad for free instead of having to pay the market price for it.
Baghdad may have little potable water and only a few hours of electricity a day, but the embassy complex will have its own water treatment facilities and electricity generator.
First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, a subcontractor of Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root, was granted the $592 million construction contract. By December it had been paid about $483 million.
The company is a relative novice in embassy building and has been criticized for its treatment of Asian workers, who, critics say, are imported because they can be paid low wages, and because they work under hard conditions. About 900 laborers live on site as they build the complex, according to a report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has congressional oversight responsibility for the project.
State of Emergency declared in Iraq
The state of emergency includes a ban on carrying weapons and gives Iraqi security forces broader arrest powers, Major General Abdul-Aziz Mohamed Jassim of the Defense Ministry said Friday, The Associated Press reported.
"The state of emergency and curfew came in the wake of today's clashes to let the army work freely to chase militants and to avoid casualties among civilians," he said, adding that security forces would arrest people carrying weapons and would shoot them if they appeared to pose a danger.
U.S. and Iraqi troops struggle with insurgents in armed street battle
June 24, 2006
BY KIM GAMEL
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's government clamped a state of emergency on Baghdad and ordered everyone off the streets Friday after U.S. and Iraqi forces battled insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and rifles near the heavily fortified Green Zone.
A lot of people don't have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks and knives
And they gotta cut something.