WASHINGTON - The World Bank has appointed
a new country manager 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
Anticipating that Iraq
could eventually assume a more prominent role at
the bank, its board has periodically issued
official statements - a highly unusual measure -
telling Wolfowitz that it
to be updated on any major plans for Iraq.
The Government Accountability Project
(GAP), 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
e-mail, a copy of which was seen by Inter Press
A World Bank official in
the Middle East department who wished to remain
unidentified confirmed the news to IPS.
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 was effective as of Monday, Gressani
said in her e-mail. Gressani did not return
telephone calls from IPS for comment.
World Bank has not had a major presence inside
Iraq since a bombing on August 19, 2003, claimed
the lives of bank staffer Alya Sousa and 21 United
Nations employees at the UN headquarters in
Baghdad. Since then, the bank's operational work
in Iraq has relied on regular meetings with Iraqis
outside their country and use of the bank's
videoconferencing facilities in Baghdad.
The World Bank runs its operation through
its interim office for Iraq, which is based in
Amman, Jordan. The office employs Iraqis for
operations inside their country.
appointment, which had not been formally announced
by the bank at this writing, appears to confirm
what many analysts have long suspected about
Wolfowitz' relentless attempts to move the bank
back into Iraq - and to boost US policy there -
despite internal opposition and the continuing
high security risk.
Although he has served
for the past two years as president of the bank,
Wolfowitz is best known in many circles for his
role as a primary architect of the US invasion of
the Arab country and as a staunch neo-conservative
ideologue promoting US 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' bid to recruit a new country
manager for Iraq.
announced his resignation last Friday, the new
development indicates that he is still attempting
to steer the course of the institution.
Through a series of documents leaked from
inside the bank, GAP helped disclose the
favoritism scandal involving Wolfowitz' longtime
girlfriend and colleague Shaha Riza that
eventually led to his ouster. The group noted in a
statement on Monday that the new Iraq appointment
contradicts a statement by Wolfowitz not to make
any key appointments before his scheduled June 30
"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
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 Iraq, despite the
deteriorating security situation and recent
disclosures of massive corruption in
first came to preside over the World 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.
and some board members expressed fears that
Wolfowitz' right-wing ideological leanings would
push the bank toward more involvement in the
controversial US occupation of Iraq.
for the past year and a half, Wolfowitz has kept a
relatively low profile on the issue and tried
publicly to tone down his ideological convictions.