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This is how the Pentagon envisions the Green Zone of Baghdad after a $5 billion tourist and development scheme.

Tigris Woods

A plan by US military planners for the "Tigris Woods Golf and Country Club" in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq.
Picture: U.S. Army/AP

There's nothing like playing a relaxing 18 holes of golf for U.S. generals and big oil executives after a tough day in oil-rich, occupied Iraq. Or as The Guardian describes it in Luxury hotels and golf: welcome to the Green Zone:

Picture... a tree-lined plaza in Baghdad's International Village, flanked by fashion boutiques, swanky cafes, and shiny glass office towers. Nearby a golf course nestles agreeably, where a chip over the water to the final green is but a prelude to cocktails in the club house and a soothing massage in a luxury hotel... Then, as twilight falls, a pre-prandial stroll, perhaps, amid the cool of the Tigris Riverfront Park, where the peace is broken only by the soulful cries of egrets fishing.

Unbelievable.

Or, maybe golf isn't your thing? Maybe some nice shopping at the "International Village" at the U.S. embassy in tranquil Baghdad?

International Village at U.S. Embassy

Planners envision an international village inside the U.S. embassy complex in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq.
Picture: U.S. Army/AP)

According to the AP story:

For Washington, the driving motivation is to create a "zone of influence" around the new $700 million U.S. Embassy to serve as a kind of 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 Navy Capt. Thomas Karnowski, who led the team that created the development plan.

Potential investors are already being signed up. Marriott International has been inked to build a new hotel in the Green Zone and more are in line. A $1 billion investment from MBI International, a hotel and resorts specialist led by Saudi sheikh, Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber is possible according Karnowski.

"If you talk to people at the State Department, they still believe a hotel isn't going up. But it is a done deal," Karnowski said of the Marriott project.

Other potential developments are from C3, a Los Angeles-based company, that wants "build an amusement park on the Green Zone's outskirts. As part of the first phase, a skateboard park is due to open this summer."

The Guardian adds:

The US military released the first tentative artists' impression yesterday. An army source said the barbed wire, concrete blast barriers and checkpoints that currently disfigure the 5 sq mile area would be replaced by shopping malls, hotels, elegant apartment blocks and leisure parks. "This is at the end of the day an Iraqi-owned area and we will give it back to them with added value," said the source, who requested anonymity.

Efforts are under way to obtain the necessary land. "Air Force Lt. Col. Monte Harner leads the effort to discover who owns the titles and consolidate the areas held by the U.S. military."

While the Pentagon's dream of transforming Baghdad's Green Zone into a world class resort may be the stuff of make believe, but then so is the belief that the "surge" is working. According to Harner:

"You have to stake a goal in the sand before you can begin to move toward it... Without a vision of what could be, you're just treading water."

Clap louder America!

Originally posted to Magnifico on Mon May 05, 2008 at 08:33 PM PDT.

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