Oil Ministry Only One
Secured, Guarded By US

By a Daily Telegraph correspondent in Baghdad

BAGHDAD -- What is the difference between most government buildings in Baghdad and the Ministry of Oil?
All but the Oil Ministry have been looted, burned or destroyed in the past weeks.
Most other public buildings are unguarded but the huge Oil Ministry headquarters on Palestine St has been ringed by more than 70 US troops.
A dozen armoured personnel carriers guard the site.
That glaring contrast has convinced many angry Iraqis that Washington's invasion was motivated by its own interests and the state of international oil markets rather than its professed concern for the Iraqi public.
Iraqis had long been told by Saddam's regime that any US invasion of Iraq would be motivated by oil, and the special protection of the Ministry of Oil has become a public relations disaster.
Growing scepticism about US motives is now the greatest threat to its chances of installing a new Iraqi government with popular support.
Middle-class Iraqis have complained bitterly over the past week that the looting of ministry buildings will have to be paid for by taxpayers.
Muslims have been deeply offended by the failure of US troops to protect mosques like the 1200-year-old Abu Hanifa Mosque which had its cherished clock tower blasted in a US attack.
People only have to use their eyes to see what the Americans are really interested in, Hayder Daoud Salman said yesterday.
"Everyone is looking around at what the Americans are protecting and what they are leaving to the Ali Babas [looters] and knowing why they came here," he said.
> Salman, a television repairman, was working yesterday as a spokesman for armed Shi'ite Muslims protecting the Kindi Hospital.
"I think it is a message that their only interest is oil," he said.
But Major Paul Kanopka yesterday said the US military had no regrets about its handling of law and order.
© Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications,5936,6286969%255E25440,00.html



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