- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — After six months and an outlay of about $130 million, Iraq’s U.S.-led administration says it has managed to restore the electricity supply to prewar levels.

The milestone is one the administration had been eager to reach after a summer of blackouts and deepening resentment among Iraqis over a lack of basic services.

By next summer, officials say, Iraq will need more than double the 4,500 megawatts currently being produced.

“It will take several years and a complete refurbishment of the power grid before we can give Iraq a stable power supply,” an electricity ministry spokesman told the London Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s interim leaders said yesterday they are willing to soften their opposition to peacekeeping troops from Turkey or other neighboring countries to avoid a confrontation with the U.S.-led coalition.

They delivered their message to coalition officials as several thousand Shi’ite Muslims marched to coalition headquarters to demand the release of a cleric arrested for “anticoalition activities.”

Protesters hurled stones and sandals — an Iraqi gesture of contempt — at U.S. troops as they dispersed without winning the preacher’s freedom.

A violent confrontation with Shi’ites, who are about 60 percent of Iraq’s 25 million people, could have serious repercussions for the U.S.-led effort.

Most of the attacks against U.S. troops are believed carried out by Sunni Muslims, who formed the base of support for Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Also yesterday, U.S. troops raided three weapons caches just north of Baghdad, uncovering 49 antiaircraft missiles and 50 tank shells, the U.S. military said.

The Turkish parliament’s decision Tuesday to authorize sending Turkish peacekeepers to join the coalition was applauded in Washington, which is eager to bring in more troops to ease the burden on the 130,000 American soldiers.

However, the decision upset many Iraqis because of the legacy of 400 years of Turkish colonial domination of what is now Iraq. Opposition to the Turks runs deepest in the north, where Iraq’s minority Kurds have watched ethnic cousins across the border in southeastern Turkey wage an intermittent separatist guerrilla war in recent decades, in part from bases in northern Iraq.

Iyad Allawi, president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, told the Associated Press that “important sensitivities” are involved in deploying Turkish troops in Iraq.

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