The World Bank has just appointed a new country
for Iraq despite security and corruption concerns, according to a leaked document.
The news emerged just days after outgoing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz
promised not make any major new appointments at the institution.
The Government Accountability
Project, a Washington-based watchdog group, released an e-mail it says it
obtained from sources inside the Bank showing Daniela Gressani, vice president
for the Middle East and North Africa Region, making the announcement.
"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Simon Stolp as country
manager, Iraq," said Gressani in her
A World Bank official in the Middle East department who wished to remain unidentified
confirmed the news to IPS.
Stolp, an Australian national, worked previously in Iraq as a consultant for
the U.S. Department of Defense where he supported changes in the Iraqi electricity
sector. In 2005, he was awarded the Joint Civilian Service Award by the Pentagon,
which is granted to civilians who demonstrate high service "supporting
the U.S. military."
A report issued in December by a seven-member panel of Bank experts who interviewed
candidates for the job in Iraq said that after meeting Stolp, "the panel
left uncomfortable as to whether he could become a credible, substantive (as
compared to procedural) representative of Bank with Iraqi and Donor counterparts,
on account of his weak analytical background, and lack of knowledge about the
The panel added: "Compared with candidates on other CM [Country Manager]
short lists (e.g., Lebanon), Mr. Stolp would not place in the top third."
The Bank has not had a major presence inside Iraq since a bombing on Aug. 19,
2003, claimed the lives of Bank staffer Alya Sousa and 21 UN employees at the
UN headquarters in Baghdad.
Since then, the Bank's operational work in Iraq has relied on regular meetings
with Iraqis outside of Iraq and use of the Bank's video-conferencing facilities
The World Bank runs its operation through the Bank's Interim Office for Iraq,
which is based in Amman, Jordan. The office employs Iraqis for operations inside
The new appointment, which has not yet been formally announced by the Bank,
appears to confirm what many analysts have long suspected about Wolfowitz's
relentless attempts to move the Bank back into Iraq and to boost U.S. policy
there despite internal opposition and the continuing high security risk.
Although he has served for the last two years as president of the Bank, Wolfowitz
is best known in many circles for his role as a primary architect of the ill-fated
U.S. invasion of the Arab country and as a staunch neoconservative ideologue
promoting U.S. military interventionist policies, especially in the Middle East.
In February, IPS reported that Wolfowitz had been secretly negotiating a contract
with a new resident director in Iraq despite some objections from staff and
the board of directors.
The same month, the Bank, still under Wolfowitz's management, also sought to
quell news that a local staff member had been injured in Iraq, apparently for
fear that the report might derail Wolfowitz's bid to recruit a new country director
Although Wolfowitz announced his resignation on May 18, the new development
indicates that he is still attempting to steer the future course of the institution.
Through a series of documents leaked from inside the Bank, GAP helped disclose
the favoritism scandal involving Wolfowitz's longtime girlfriend and colleague
Shaha Riza that eventually led to his humiliating ouster. The group noted in
a statement Monday that the new Iraq appointment contradicts a statement by
Wolfowitz not to make any key appointments before his scheduled June 30 departure.
"The timing of this appointment is surprising. Although Paul Wolfowitz
did not explicitly say he would 'recuse' himself from ongoing personnel decisions
at this level, he strongly implied that he would do so," GAP said in a
In a May 18 statement before the Bank's board looking into his misconduct,
Wolfowitz said: "I believe all country manager and director personnel have
been completed for the spring, so I have no expectation of being involved in
these or any other personnel actions."
The appointment likely means the Bank will release new loans to the occupied
Arab nation, despite the deteriorating security situation and recent disclosures
of massive corruption in reconstruction efforts.
When Wolfowitz first came to preside over the Bank, an international development
agency, in June 2005, there was an outcry at the board and among some staff
because of his close association with planning the Iraq war, which has turned
into a major humanitarian fiasco.
Senior Bank staff and some board members had expressed fears that Wolfowitz's
right-wing ideological leanings would push the Bank toward more involvement
in the controversial U.S. occupation of Iraq.
But for the past year and a half, Wolfowitz has kept a relatively low profile
on the issue and tried to publicly tone down his ideological convictions.
Anticipating that Iraq could eventually assume a more prominent role at the
Bank, the board has periodically issued official statements a highly unusual
measure telling Wolfowitz that they want to be updated on any major plans
Simon Stolp, an Australia national, will manage the day-to-day affairs of the
Bank in Iraq, monitor the Bank's lending portfolio there and manage the Bank's
office and resident staff. His appointment is effective as of Monday, Gressani
said in her e-mail.
Gressani did not return telephone calls from IPS for comment.
(Inter Press Service)