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Iraq: Windrush Communications Delivers Iraq to the Corporations

Corporate Watch
February 18th, 2005

Windrush began as an independent publishing global publishing house, producing corporate journals and websites for trade and financial institutions. Its glossy mouthpieces and e-digests promote the culture of commodification and privatisation. The conquering of new markets and the wars which smash them open are sanitised and normalised. In these journals the corporate elite theorise and advocate their socially and environmentally destructive agendas.

Windrush Communications Ltd was founded in December 2002 as an independent private company. Formerly known as Wishwell Ltd, it was renamed Windrush in February 2003. Its Docklands-dwelling Director is 48-year-old John Lumb while Raminder Singh-Barmi holds the post of Managing Director of Iraq Procurement. From publishing it graduated two years late to the esteemed position of being the organiser of the glittering and gargantuan Iraq Procurement Conferences. So far there have been three: London April 2004; Jordan November 2004 and Iraq Oil and Gas, Amman, August 2004. These events bring together politicians, ministers, and business people from the world over (Iraq’s Electricity, Health, and Oil ministers plus British governmental representatives and Jordanian minsiters have all attended the events) to broker deals, talk shop, and re-configure the economy, markets and future of an entire nation – in the image and interests of the rich and powerful, corporate and governmental. The legalityof these events has been called into . question by anti-war activists arguing that the sell-off of Iraq’s assets under an Occupation-created law on Foreign Investment --Order 39 -- violates the Geneva Convention and Hague Regulations and amounts to pillage.

Curiously there is more than one business venture involved in Windrush Communications’ work. A company named Omega Marketing Worldwide which appears to be new shares the address and telephone line of Windrush at Clergy House, Mark Street, EC2, and Windrush’s former Production Manager, Ben Pilley, has been transferred and promoted to Managing Director of Omega Marketing Worldwide. The relationship between the two companies is unclear, as is the relationship between Windrush and the 'Iraq Development Program' – again, undefined, except that all procurement conference registration fees must be paid to ‘The Iraq Development Program’. The IDP also enjoys exclusive hotel rates, a perk usually afforded to companies close to government.

Windrush’s move into the field of international corporate politics came when it became the official Media Partner (read ‘publicist/PR agent’) for the British-Arab Chamber of Commerce. A large company with over 25 years service to the business, government and academic sectors, the BACC provides these sectors with information and analysis of how, where, when and what to privatise, control and justify next. The BACC has a board of over 80 Directors. Its Vice-Chairman is Sir Alan Munro, former British Ambassador to Algeria and Saudi Arabia, who has admitted having a salaried position advising companies on how to break into the Saudi Arabian market -- however his position at the BACC is 'voluntary'.

Windrush began their project of contract brokering and pillage promoting with three initial websites designed to identify markets for businesses – 'Rebuilding Iraq News', 'Iraqi Business Project' and 'Iraq’s Key Industries', before picking up the gauntlet from where The Iraq Program Management Office (PMO) left off. The PMO itself was set up by the US puppet Coalition Provisional Authority to oversee all contracts funded by the new US government's appropriation of over $18.6 billion for Iraq's reconstruction. Windrush joins an industry of post-conflict reconstruction corporate guides, such as 3C New York, which ‘establishes contacts between procurement agencies in the U.S government and potential contractors in the U.S. and abroad’ with its Iraq Project.During Windrush's Amman Procurement conference last July, the Iraqi-British Chamber of Commerce, later re-branded the Iraqi-British Business Council (IBBC) was founded by a group of businessmen. The IBBC has been‘established with the function of entrenching the bilateral commercial relationship between Iraq and Britain, opening opportunities for Iraqi businessmen to participate in the process of rebuilding their country with the help of their British partners’.

This indicates that not only have the Iraq Procurement events organised the competing companies in the free market race in Iraq into coherent bodies and groups, but they have also helped Iraqi elites to grab and hold the reins of reconstruction in Iraq. They are providing proponents of privatisation, old and new, with fresh spaces, platforms and alliances to carry out the next phase of free market capitalism deeper into the Middle East. This is in sync with George Bush’s declaration of a Middle East Free Trade Zone within the next 10 years -- a zone dependent on war, occupation and death for its survival. Windrush were unavailable to comment, stating that the company is not giving any media interviews at the moment.

 





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