The Boston Herald reports:
BAGHDAD – Forget rocket attacks, concrete blast walls and no sewer system and try picturing luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad.
It’s all part of an ambitious five-year development “dream list” to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a gleaming centerpiece for Baghdad’s future.
The $5 billion plan has Pentagon backing and apparently the interest of leading hotel developers, said Navy Capt. Thomas Karnowski, who led the team that created the development plan.
Washington wants to create a “zone of influence” around the new $700 million U.S. Embassy to serve as a high-end buffer for the compound, whose total price tag will reach about $1 billion after all the workers and offices are relocated over the next year.
“When you have $1 billion hanging out there and 1,000 employees lying around, you kind of want to know who your neighbors are. You want to influence what happens in your neighborhood over time,” said Karnowski.
Karnowski said a deal was already completed for Marriott International Inc. to build a hotel in the Green Zone.
He also said a possible $1 billion investment could come from MBI International, a conglomerate that….
Well, there you go. Are they planning on a drawing down of US troops?