Skip to comments.Factory Owners Association Brings Promise, Security to Northeast Baghdad
Posted on 08/01/2009 1:55:06 PM PDT by SandRat
BAGHDAD — In an open-air factory on the outskirts of northeast Baghdad, Iraqi workers diligently polish mosaic tiles with buffers, spraying water in circular, cascading waves. An Iraqi teenager sweeps the water toward a drainage ditch with a determined look on his face as the workers' machines drone on noisily.
The owner of the factory, a distinguished Iraqi man with salt and pepper hair, strides toward the wrought iron gate of his factory. With open arms and a wide, beaming smile, he greets American Soldiers and Iraqi Federal Police at the entry gate.
The factory owner, Kaled Waead al-Hahed, is happy to see the Soldiers because, being a member of the Factory Owners Association, he knows they are here to help.
By visiting with Iraqi factory owners, July 30, members of the 1479th Civil Affairs Company, embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, furthered the mission of improving economic growth in the area.
The FOA is a council formed and funded by Coalition forces to organize the factory owners in the area, explained Staff Sgt. John O'Leary, an Army Reserve civil affairs specialist from Tewksbury, Mass.
The association is receiving help from Coalition forces, but will ultimately be Iraqi organized, controlled and funded, he added.
"Eventually, the owners will pay dues, get training, meet important social contacts, and receive training on new equipment and new machines," explained O'Leary. "They may not see immediate effects, but the factory owners can tell it's beneficial for them in the long run."
According to Blake Keller, an industrial advisor assigned to Baghdad ePRT 3, the local factory owners will elect officers to represent them on the council, provide training in managing and marketing and lobby the Government of Iraq for resources.
Currently, the association is applying to be a Non-Government Organization and already has the support of the majority of the factory owners operating in the area, revealed Keller, a native of Rochester, N.Y.
"I think anytime [Iraqis] are working and getting paid, they're happy and then we know they're not doing bad stuff," said O'Leary.
"What the Americans are doing is very good for the people here," added 2nd Lt. Juwad Kadhem Mossa, 1st Federal Police Division. "A lot of people don't have jobs and the factories help when the Coalition forces give them economic help."
Juwad and his fellow policemen patrol the neighborhood daily and he asserts that their relationship with CF – his policemen providing security and the Americans creating a council to stimulate the economy – is a win-win situation for the area.
"When the people don't have jobs or work, then the terrorists will prey on them by giving them money to do bad things," explained Juwad. "But if they have jobs, with the help of the factories, then security will be better."
Staff Sgt. Robert Mosqueda, a cavalry scout section leader from Mission, Texas, agreed with Juwad.
"This council keeps us involved with the community – if there were no factories then there would be no jobs, so the workers would get money from [terrorists]," he said.
In order to make the association a success, it has derived its business model from an American system to provide the owners with support and other benefits, explained Mosqueda.
"Sometimes people will stop us during missions and say, 'Hey, I have two sons and I need work,'" continued Mosqueda. "We'll push them toward the factories and the FOA, so it's Iraqis helping Iraqis and all we did was point them in the right direction and sorta market for their businesses."
"I learn a lot from the Coalition forces when they work with the community," said a stern-faced Juwad. "The Americans respect the human rights of the people because before, the Iraqi Army under Saddam, didn't care about the people and their rights."
The civil affairs Soldiers and cavalry scouts patrolling this area have genuine concern for the locals here and their future, according to Mosqueda. That's why ideas like the factory owners association can be successful in helping locals find work and keeping the area secure.
"The security situation is good now and they will build more houses in the future," said a grinning Kaled wearing a starched, white-collared shirt. "And of course, they will need more of my tiles to build their houses."
Good news. Thanks for posting.
I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I no longer follow the news from Iraq the way I once did when Bush was in office.