Little Green Footballs

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Goodbye, thanks for the cash

Here's a story that reminds me of an old saying about rats and sinking ships.

U.S. private contractors, until now the biggest private-sector employers in Iraq, are preparing to leave as U.S. money runs out and Iraqi ministries take charge of the reconstruction effort.

"We are drawing down," said Ken Oscar, Fluor Corp.'s vice president for strategy. "We are not done by any stretch of the imagination, but we are drawing down."

The engineering and construction giant at one time had 250 to 300 people from the United States in Iraq, and employed roughly 20,000 Iraqis.

Now, as the U.S.-funded part of the reconstruction effort comes to a close, Fluor has, perhaps, 100 Americans left in the country and is phasing out the Iraqi jobs.

"The net [result] is a lot less employment for Iraqis," Mr. Oscar said, even though much work remains to be done.

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