Al Jazeera is reporting that American troops are not allowing the employees of Iraq's oil ministry back on the site. While the Americans are encouraging Iraqis to return to work elsewhere -- from looted library to looted sandal shop -- the oil ministry, which was carefully untargeted by American smart missiles, is apparently one of those redoubts that the Bush administration is not going to give up just yet.
The Financial Times also has an extensive report. There are several curious figures hanging about the Ministry, all connected to the INC paramilitaries:
"The former minister is barred from entering, as are his deputies. A man in a green suit, standing outside the barbed wire, introduced himself as Fellah al-Khawaja and said he represented the Co-ordinating Committee for the Oil Ministry, which few of the employees had heard of.
It draws its authority from a self-declared local government led by Mohamed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, a recently returned exile who says he is now the effective mayor of Baghdad.
According to Faris Nouri, a ministry section chief, the committee has issued a list of who should be allowed into the ministry by US troops guarding the building. Yesterday it was announced that Mr Zubaidi's deputy, former general Jawdat al-Obeidi, would lead Iraq's delegation to the next meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
But when asked who was giving the orders at the ministry, most employees pointed to a portly man standing in the lobby, who looked to be in his 50s but declined to give his name."
Ah, the coup in the making! The unusual ardor, evidenced by the Pentagon, for democracy in the Middle East in the pre-War period, is rapidly cooling into the accustomed shapes of a puppet government. Tradition re-asserts itself.