Paul Manafort Worked For Kurds

WASHINGTON — Paul J. Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump who is at the center of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is working for allies of the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region to help administer and promote a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq.

Paul Manafort and his sidekick, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a Grand Jury for tax evasion and money laundering in several nations. Does this include the Kurds, who may have known what was coming and hurried up their referendum. These men are Players in the Big Oil Scrum. Is there money laundering going on at the Buck Foundation? I smell a rat. The Kurds are not this stupid. They know too much. Were they sending a message to Dumb Trump by hiring Paul – and Bates?

https://rosamondpress.com/2017/07/17/rubar-sandi-of-the-eastern-star-prophecy/

Barzani condemned the United States for failing to back the Kurds. “We tried to stop bloodshed but the Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization Front (Shi‘ite militias) kept advancing, using U.S. weapons,” he said.
“Our people should now question, whether the U.S. was aware of Iraq’s attack and why they did not prevent it.”

Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, did not respond to an email request for comment and the White House nor Justice Department have commented on the reports. But a spokesperson for Masrour Barzani, the head of the KRG security council and the president’s son, told the New York Times that he had been employed to “assist in the referendum and in the aftermath of the referendum.”

Kurdish officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he was a key hire for the referendum because of his influence in Washington, where he has lobbied and served for clients and presidential candidates.

“He is really well-connected. He has some good access, that’s why he has been hired,” a source close to Masoud Barzani tells Newsweek. “He has been hired because he is influential and obviously he was chairman of Trump’s campaign. He still has some access and could have some influence on American politics.”

http://www.newsweek.com/paul-manafort-working-promote-kurdish-referendum-vote-washington-opposes-668736

Masoud Barzani resigned last night. This is bad news for Rubar Sandi who is on the board of the Buck Foundation. I tried to tell my Kurdish friends on facebook that I had traced the original Nazarite church to the Kurds. There is a lineage of barren women. They thought I was crazy. The Kurds had been embracing Israel. I told them they play a huge role in my search for the HISTORIC JESUS, and would be backed by American Christians – if they knew the truth! This is the real Da Vinci Code!

https://rosamondpress.com/2017/09/28/rubar-sandi-of-the-eastern-star-prophecy-2/

Here is a report from 2002 that puts Sandi at the head of a group of Kurds. Perhaps Sandi should resign from the Buck Institute , being he has so many international interests, including nation building.

https://www.rferl.org/a/1343193.html

I just discovered Manafort worked for the Kurds. Did he know Sandi? Paul may be arrested within hours. How many Kurds are there in the bay area. This calls for a Congressional Investigation.

He just turned himself in!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/30/politics/paul-manafort-russia-investigation-surrender/index.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/feb/22/20040222-013317-8821r/

Lebanese Kurds demonstrated on Sunday in Martyrs’ Square in Beirut in support of the referendum vote on Iraqi Kurdish independence. Credit Anwar Amro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Paul J. Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Trump who is at the center of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is working for allies of the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region to help administer and promote a referendum on Kurdish independence from Iraq.

The United States opposes the referendum, but Mr. Manafort has carved out a long and lucrative career advising foreign clients whose interests have occasionally diverged from American foreign policy. And he has continued soliciting international business even as his past international work has become a focus of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into ties between Russia and Mr. Trump and his associates, including possible collusion between them to influence the presidential election.

In fact, the work for the Kurdish group appears to have been initiated this summer around the time that federal authorities working for Mr. Mueller raided Mr. Manafort’s home in Virginia and informed him that they planned to indict him.

While the Kurdish referendum, scheduled for Monday, would not immediately trigger independence, the American government and the international community have expressed serious concerns about it. They fear that, if it passes overwhelmingly, as expected, it could further destabilize Iraq, damage the coalition fighting the Islamic State, and potentially spark violence in disputed areas.

In a statement on Wednesday, the State Department urged Kurdish leaders “to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners.”

FREE IRAQIS MEET IN WASHINGTON TO DISCUSS RECONSTRUCTION

By Kathleen Ridolfo

The second meeting of the Economic and Infrastructure Working Group on Iraq took place in Washington, D.C., on 2-3 December. The U.S. State Department sponsored the meeting, which was attended by 16 “free Iraqis.” Tom Warrick, the special adviser to the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs facilitated the meeting. The working group was comprised of Iraqis from inside Iraq and the diaspora.

Following the meeting, four members of the working group gave a briefing on the two-day meeting. The first was Nasreen Sideek, an architect by profession, and the current minister for reconstruction and development in the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil. Another was Ahmed al-Haydari, a telecommunications engineer by profession and director of strategic alliances for a telecommunications company living in Ottawa. He defected from Iraq in 1980 and is a member of Iraqi Forum for Democracy, an apolitical group advocating democracy in Iraq. The third was Rubar Sandi, chairman and CEO of Corporate Bank Business Group, an international finance and investment company focused on developing countries based in Washington, D.C. He left Iraq in 1975 following the Kurdish uprising the year before.

PREFACE:  I just got off the phone with Safia of the Buck Foundation. I basically told her I own a jewel encrusted glass slipper, and, was wondering if there are any feet to put it on.  I commented on the irony of her name, and, she had an accent. I asked if she saw the movie ‘The DaVinci Code’. She had. I told her the architect, Pei, designed the pyramid over the Louvre, and there is a prophecy going on. I told her the Knights Templar were in one of my proposals. Here is Rubar Sandi’s main business.

http://www.thesandigroup.com/security.html

By – The Washington Times – Tuesday, June 17, 2003

A Washington-based merchant banker who just returned from Baghdad, where he invested $1 million in several new businesses, says the U.S.-led occupation authority has become an obstacle to private entrepreneurs with the cash, ideas and expertise to quickly rebuild Iraq.

Rubar Sandi, chief executive of Washington-based CorporateBank Business Group, described the Pentagon’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs (ORHA) as a bureaucratic web hobbled by infighting and misinformation.

“In 10 days, I managed to do more than ORHA has done in two months,” he said in an interview. “ORHA is a stumbling block,” he said.

During his first trip, Mr. Sandi purchased four hotels and started a company to provide security and translation services for would-be investors.

“Mrs. Buck, a childless widow, died in 1975 when she was 75 years old. She left stock in the Belridge Oil Company, stipulating in her will that the income was to be used exclusively for ”nonprofit charitable, religious or educational purposes in providing care for the needy in Marin County, Calif., and for other nonprofit, charitable, religious or education purposes in that county.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-kurds-barzani/kurdish-leader-barzani-resigns-after-independence-vote-backfires-idUSKBN1CY0KR

Barzani condemned the United States for failing to back the Kurds. “We tried to stop bloodshed but the Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilization Front (Shi‘ite militias) kept advancing, using U.S. weapons,” he said.
“Our people should now question, whether the U.S. was aware of Iraq’s attack and why they did not prevent it.”
Asked for reaction to Barzani’s resignation, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said: “I would refer you to Kurdistan officials for information on President Barzani. Also, we are not going to get into any private diplomatic discussions.”
Barzani has been criticized by Kurdish opponents for the loss of the city of Kirkuk, oil-rich and considered by many Kurds to be their spiritual home

“Gates was neck deep in all the pro-Putin activity and the dealings with oligarchs so shameful they’re not allowed into the United States,” said John Weaver, a Republican political consultant with clashed with Manafort and Gates when he was an adviser to John McCain during his 2008 run for the presidency. “I guess [Gates] is immune from draining the swamp. This is so typical of the hypocrisy coming out of Trump Tower.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, accompanied by Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, left, prepares for his speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

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A longtime business and lobbying partner of Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump campaign manager who was ousted last summer over his ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, has resurfaced as a key figure in planning the Trump inauguration, according to four Republican sources familiar with matter.

The business partner, Rick Gates, was not mentioned in the Trump transition team’s Nov. 15 public announcement naming the members of the inaugural committee. But behind the scenes Gates is serving as the chief deputy to Thomas Barrack, the private equity investor and close friend of Trump who is inaugural chairman, the sources said. One described him as in effect the “shadow” chair of the event, involved in everything from raising the $50 million to $75 million the Inaugural committee is seeking to the selection of entertainers.

Another source, a top Republican fundraiser,  said he recently met with Gates about planning for inaugural events and it was clear he was playing a critical role in overseeing the operation. “Gates is Barrack’s guy” in helping to run the inaugural, said the source.

Gates’ prominent, if so far unpublicized, role has caused grumbling among some Trump allies in large part because of his close ties to Manafort, the controversial former campaign chief whose dealings with pro-Russian figures in Ukraine led to his departure from the campaign last August.

Manafort’s resignation came after disclosures that Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau was investigating entries in a ledger book supposedly showing $12.7 million in “off the books” payments to Manafort between 2007 and 2012 from the Party of Regions headed by Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych is the former Ukrainian president, aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who fled the country in 2014 and now lives in Moscow. Manafort has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the payments.

Gates was Manafort’s deputy on the Party of Regions account while their firm, Davis Manafort International, advised Yunukovych’s election campaigns. “He was the complete business guy” who managed the account, hiring pollsters and other consultants, said Tad Devine, Bernie Sanders’ chief strategist during the 2016 primary campaign, who had been hired by Manafort’s firm to assist with the Party of Regions account but who says he quit in 2011 after Yanukovych’s government prosecuted and imprisoned his chief political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.

As first reported by Yahoo News, Gates also was a co-investor with Manafort in a $26.2 million business deal with Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire Russian aluminum baron who had been barred by the FBI from entering the United States due to alleged ties to Russian organized crime. Deripaska later initiated legal action against both men in the Cayman Islands, alleging in court papers they had “simply disappeared” when his lawyers sought to liquidate their joint investment in 2014 and sought to question them about what happened to his funds.

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as Rick Gates listens at back right on July 17, 2016. (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)
Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager, on the floor of the Republican National Convention with Rick Gates, right. (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)
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“Gates was neck deep in all the pro-Putin activity and the dealings with oligarchs so shameful they’re not allowed into the United States,” said John Weaver, a Republican political consultant with clashed with Manafort and Gates when he was an adviser to John McCain during his 2008 run for the presidency. “I guess [Gates] is immune from draining the swamp. This is so typical of the hypocrisy coming out of Trump Tower.”

Gates did not respond to email and phone requests for comment. But sources said that he quietly weathered the storm of Manafort’s resignation and continued to do major work on the Trump campaign, serving a key role as  a liaison to the Republican National Committee.

Manafort left the Trump campaign under a cloud as the Associated Press and others, including Yahoo News, reported that he and Gates were the go-betweens in hiring two high-powered Washington firms to secretly lobby for Yanukovych’s party, under the cover of representing a Belgian nonprofit group. According to a source close to the Ukrainian government, those allegations prompted an inquiry by the FBI into possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The status of that investigation is unclear. (Manafort recently told NBC News he was unaware of any FBI investigation.) Bloomberg News reported this week that Manafort has recently quietly resurfaced in Trump’s camp and has been in regular contact with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other members of the transition team, as well as inaugural chair Barrack, with whom he has a longtime relationship. 

The disclosure of Gates’ behind-the-scenes role comes as the inaugural committee this week is planning to send out offers on “package” deals for tickets to inaugural events. According to a source who has been briefed on the plans, the deals include separate packages for contributors at levels of $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 and $1 million, with progressively more access to balls, events and photo opportunities with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

The public members of the inaugural committee include such well-known GOP donors and fundraisers as Roy Bailey, a Texas insurance mogul, and Wall Street investor Lew Eisenberg, both of whom are serving as finance co-chairs, as well as well as casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, Oklahoma oil baron Harold Hamm and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. Barrack, the chair of the event, told the New York Times last week that the inauguration will allow corporations and wealthy donors to contribute to the inauguration, but would ban gifts from registered lobbyists. One GOP fundraiser said that Trump’s election had spurred interest from corporations that had been wary of contributing during the campaign because Hillary Clinton was expected to win. “Now, there’s no risk,” said the fundraiser, who like most others in this story asked not to be identified by name. “The guy won.”

By – The Washington Times – Sunday, February 22, 2004

BAGHDAD – Standing 6-foot-5 in pale snakeskin boots, Rubar Sandi’s personal security guard brings a touch of the Wild West to “the Bag,” as Iraq’s capital is known. Anonymous but rarely inconspicuous, the guard towers over Mr. Sandi, a wealthy Iraqi-American banker. The guard, his eyes constantly moving, stands ready to block any bullet aimed at his boss, and the caution cuts both ways.

“Shoot first, don’t think,” Mr. Sandi shouts, half-jokingly, as his five-car armed convoy bursts across the border from Kuwait into Iraq.

Doing business in Iraq takes hefty flak jackets with anti-bullet and anti-shrapnel ceramic plates and armed guards toting AK-47s, MP5s and 9 mm pistols.

It also takes guts and knowledge, family ties, good connections and a lot of money.

Mr. Sandi — a millionaire who grew up in Iraq, lived in the United States for decades and invested all over the world — has all of those.

A Kurd who escaped to the United States after years of fighting Saddam’s regime — with the scars to prove it — he moves easily between U.S. authorities and his fellow Iraqis, of whom he has employed more than 3,000 since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

His burgeoning businesses here requires many trips away from his comfortable Maryland home to “the Bag.”

Despite the dangers, Mr. Sandi keeps coming back to join and deal with other investors who also want to take the plunge into Iraq.

“At this point, I still see it as a very high-risk market,” said Doug Hartman, U.S. representative for the Turkish contracting group Alarko-Dogus J.V.

“There is no legal system you can rely on not changing before June, no court system, no conflict resolution in place” — apart from the end of a gun — “and the financial and banking system is not functioning. It’s absurd having someone walking around with $100,000 in a suitcase,” he said.

The confusion, Mr. Hartman said, “has happened in every country after a war.”

“It’s an inevitable stage of the reorganization of society after a war.

“All prime facilities, factories, hotel sites are available and the first one to make the move will secure the best of each.

“You can cherry-pick right now, and it is feasible to secure an arrangement with these facilities. … It is far too early for foreign direct investment. But you can start making alliances and securing sites, getting access to facilities without actually putting substantial amounts at risk,” Mr. Hartman said.

Nothing left to chance

After hundreds of miles of treeless, flat brown countryside, Mr. Sandi’s convoy hardly slows down before coming to an abrupt stop at a roadside black-market gasoline stand.

The guards, all dressed in black, jump out, backs to the cars, popping the safety off their weapons, eyeing the area warily as dealers pour gasoline through funnels.

Minutes later, the head guard gives the order, “Ya’ala” — “Let’s go” — and everyone jumps back into the cars.

Nothing is left to chance. Just months before, Mr. Sandi’s convoy came under attack in Basra and escaped only after a heavy gunfight.

But the banker seems in his element. He has abandoned his Bally shoes and Italian suits for blue jeans, a Kevlar vest and an automatic rifle, and is elated that he is in Iraq at all.

“I am free,” he said. “I can breathe now. I would rather die like this than live with Saddam alive. You have to understand this from the view of those who lived here. That man tortured my mother, my father and my brothers and sisters. I was only 16 when I was taken and beaten.”

Since the end of the war, things have improved in Baghdad. During daylight hours, small businesses are open, cafes and juice bars are working, street stands selling meat sandwiches and fruit are crowded, and domestic appliances are readily available.

There are supermarkets, bakeries, sweets shops, restaurants and antique stores. Couples are getting married, and people are back on the streets.

But come 5 p.m., everyone scurries home. Police checkpoints go up, and by nightfall most of the streets are deserted. The tension in the cars driving at night is almost palpable.

There are other small signs of positive change. Months ago, Mr. Sandi would have had to send money to pay his employees in wads of cash through Turkey in the north.

Now Citibank, which has a branch in Baghdad that can receive wire transfers, has eased that burden. On the other hand, the District-based merchant banker is no longer as comfortable walking down Baghdad streets as he was last June.

“It’s not safe,” he said. “I’m going to stay in the office, talking, directing.”

One of his seven hotels took a huge bomb hit just a few months ago. It left a wide, black crater, shattered windows, torn walls and seven dead guards.

A few days into his visit last month, though, he was venturing out onto the streets, eager to reconnect with the city he was forced to leave 30 years ago because of his anti-Saddam activities.

A mixed picture

According to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the number of armed attacks is down and petty crime has been reduced since Iraqi police have been returned to the streets.

But U.S. pronouncements that things are improving here still seem optimistic.

Almost everyone has a weapon, gunfire regularly splits the night silence. Heavy weapons are said to be coming into the country from neighboring Syria, and bombs explode almost daily.

On any given day, there can be a bombing or an attack on U.S. soldiers, with helicopters swooping low overhead. Any Western hotel or project is a target — and the hotels are frequently hit by mortar fire.

Hassan Sinjari, an Iraqi business manager of the Al-Katin business group Mr. Sandi has invested in, reported repeated attacks in cities outside the capital.

In Baghdad, Mr. Sandi rarely travels without an armed guard or unarmed himself.

Hotels housing U.S. nationals and Iraqi officials are surrounded by towering 5-ton concrete barriers, barbed wire, armed guards and sharpshooters sitting in sandbagged turrets above the street.

There are basically two different levels of crime: day-to-day banditry, which is becoming more organized as the Iraqi police develop a stronger street presence, and politically motivated attacks against any U.S.-related targets or persons.

“This is the Olympics of terrorism — you have to participate,” said one diplomat based in Baghdad. Suicide bombings causing large numbers of dead and injured are on the increase.

For most Iraqis, life goes on: There are traffic jams; most shops, albeit rundown, are open; there is plenty of food, and Turkish, Korean and Chinese goods cover the shelves.

Business, says trader Fuad al-Watter, is excellent.

“I have industrial interests which are at a standstill, but as far as trading is concerned, we have never been so active — there is no customs, no taxes, and a hungry consumer and spending money,” he said.

Mr. al-Watter, 70, a graduate of Loyola University in Chicago, added that the real moneymaker now is security.

“Foreign businesses are afraid. If I say I will get you a guard, they will jump over and start kissing me,” he said. One drawback, he added, is that guards “announce the presence of foreigners.”

Although the streets are bustling and at least the informal economy is booming, many residents here are struggling to find steady jobs and trying not to get killed while they readjust to the power void left after the fall of Saddam.

Demonstrations against the lack of jobs are becoming more common, and the level of frustration at the lack of security and services is high.

Tough love

As Iraq struggles to get out of its violent swamp, investors such as Mr. Sandi are looking to the future. Households are going to need domestic appliances, demand will increase for housing, food and other light manufactured goods, he insists, and others agree.

“It’s a gold rush sort of situation. Everyone is dreaming of hitting the bonanza,” the diplomat said.

Doing business in Iraq requires a tough-love approach, says Mr. Sandi. In spite of the U.S. military presence and local police on the street, the city runs on the survival of the strongest.

Mr. Sandi’s coterie of heavily armed and highly trained guards guarantees him a level of respect. And he is treated like a demigod by his employees in a country where unemployment is said to be as high as 70 percent.

“When I got my job, I grabbed it tooth and nail,” said one employee, who had been out of work for months trying to support his family on rapidly dwindling savings.

As Mr. Sandi walks into his latest venture, the Al-Sadeer hotel, workers flock to shake his hand. Distant cousins try to catch him for a moment. Workers plead for his help to get a new apartment, help pay for a wedding, get their old jobs back.

“Jobs are what is going to bring this country security,” he said. But knowing how to develop business to provide those jobs takes a special approach in Iraq.

“It’s a combination of guns and roses: Your enemy has to know you’ve got the gun, and your friend has to know you’ve got the roses. People have to understand that when you need to take action, you will do so without hesitation,” he said.

On the tennis courts next to the half-empty swimming pool of the newly refurbished hotel, about 50 new guards punch and kick in unison as four black-belt teachers drill them in fighting techniques.

“He’s a warlord,” Mr. Hartman, who also serves on the American Turkish Council, said of Mr. Sandi after meeting him in Baghdad.

PHOTO2

Global interest

Investors from the United States, Europe, Russia, Turkey, South Korea and the Persian Gulf states are all looking for opportunities in Iraq, either through CPA contracts drawing on the reconstruction money approved by the U.S. Congress, monies promised to individual ministries or in the private sector.

Over the past nine months, Mr. Sandi has joined with local Iraqi businessmen and bought several hotels. He is also working with DynCorp, based in Virginia, to provide security around the country and is beginning to branch out into other private-sector areas.

Many security forces, national and expatriate, are former military. Cropped hair, sunglasses, caps or keffiyeh scarves, an arsenal of weapons and a toughness born of experience, these forces fill the enormous power vacuum in civilian areas, which the military cannot reach and the police are not ready to take on.

Selim Edes, an American businessman with interests in Turkey, arrived in Baghdad to check on the possibilities of working on U.S.-funded infrastructure-reconstruction projects, as well as branching out into the private sector to make concrete.

“Because of geography, and because Turkey has everything and Iraq has nothing, they are ready to invest here,” Mr. Edes said, adding that the rewards of getting in on the ground floor could be great.

International businesses are lining up to fill requests for proposals to rebuild Iraq, which were due this month. A final decision on many of the bids is expected in the first half of March. Six new banks are already ready to set up shop.

“In the next six months, if some of the government infrastructure projects go through, like water and power, if those are provided, then there will be a big change of attitude on the part of the bad guys,” said Mr. Edes, referring to the violence that wracks the country daily.

An hour later, two powerful explosions rocked the hotel where Mr. Edes was staying as mortar rounds crashed into the earth nearby.

Daily challenges

Accountant Osama Ahmed Ali of Mosul acknowledges that working in Iraq today has its daily challenges. Because there is no checking system, at times he has to walk around with $50,000 in cash to pay company bills.

“I take with me guards and I have my God also,” he said. “I take sometimes four guards. If I have to go to a bad area, I take a lot of guards.”

Communications also are a problem. If Mr. Ali needs something, he can’t just pick up a phone and order it. He has to get in a car and go get it. Despite a budding cell phone system, many people still don’t have access to a phone.

There are other challenges, too: Corruption, inherited from the Saddam regime, is a way of life, affecting everything from trucking in goods from outside Iraq to essential “repairs” on things such as telephone and electricity lines.

Local Iraqis say the rule of law in Baghdad is determined by who has the largest gun and the toughest and best-armed guards.

The Iraqi company Mr. Sandi has created with a lifelong friend as a partner seems to have worked out. Employees are treated well, paid well and have benefits generally unheard of in post-war Iraq. The company even sponsors a local soccer team and has set up a fund to help young couples pay for weddings.

“If you care for the local people, work with them, provide them with know-how, finance and expertise, they will respond,” said Mr. Sandi. “By winning the hearts and minds of the people, you will make a profit.”

He quickly adds that his passion to succeed transcends any monetary reward.

“This is my birthplace. I want to rebuild this country. I am here in the interest of my country and the United States. I’m here because I care.”

The portraits of seven guards killed trying to defend a hotel attacked by a bomber hang in gold-colored frames above the door of one of the offices. On one visit, Mr. Sandi stood and stared at them, tilting his head in a gesture of mourning before moving on with his inspection of the hotel premises.

He cried publicly when the black body bags carrying the burned corpses of six guards of his Al-Katin company — victims of a car bombing outside the gates of one of Saddam’s palaces — were brought to his hotel.

The gestures are not missed by the crowds following him, in a country where family and loyalty are paramount.

One official in the company also made it clear that those who attack the company or its employees will be dealt with swiftly. “We will punish them and their whole family,” the official said, on the condition of anonymity.

Playing the game

Dressed alternately in dark suits and Dolce & Gabbana green fatigues, beige combat boots and Cartier watch, Mr. Sandi discusses multimillion-dollar deals easily in Arabic and Kurdish in a hotel lounge, or in English at the heavily fortified CPA. He works both like a politician, shaking hands, cracking jokes, listening carefully and laying on generous dinners.

“He’s going out and playing the game. It’s all politics, all doing each other favors,” said Mr. Hartman. “I saw the same kind of guys in Vietnam. They seem to come out of nowhere. They are opportunists and usually don’t last.”

Part of Mr. Sandi’s mantra is that providing jobs to Iraqis will defuse much of the sharp resentment among Iraqis who first welcomed U.S. troops into their country but are now struggling to cope with sporadic supplies of water, electricity and jobs as gunfire shakes the streets.

“Iraqi people thought the U.S. could do anything at any time. They thought the Americans were like a light switch, that they could turn things off and on,” Mr. Ali said.

The United States, on the other hand, has done a poor job marketing itself, a situation aggravated by U.S. soldiers who understand little of local cultural mores, many Iraqis say.

Many here are also fed up with having to get permission from the U.S. authorities to operate in their own country.

American glue

Privately, Iraqis will say that their own ministers are powerless figureheads standing in front of the U.S. advisers, and they dismiss the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council as a rubber stamp to CPA decisions.

Others accuse both Iraqi and U.S. authorities of doing nothing but advancing their own interests before the planned handover of power June 30.

But nearly everyone involved in business agrees the United States is the glue holding the multiethnic and multireligious country together, and they insist it should stay in some form or another after July.

“Baghdad will burn if the United States pulls out,” said Mr. Ali, warning that intense religious and ethnic rivalries are ever ready to explode.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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