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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

On a lighter note, ISRAELI BEER in the news

DEBKAfile Special Report
August 5, 2003, 12:56 PM (GMT+02:00)
A close inspection of photos from inside the Mosul villa where Qusay and Uday were shot dead by American troops last month reveals beer bottles and a candy wrapper with what looks suspiciously like Hebrew lettering. Ironically, Saddam Hussein’s sons and grandson may have spent their last hours consuming the products of the hated Zionist state. In another odd twist, the troops of the US 101st airborne division may have cracked open beer of the same Macabbee brand while laying Saddam’s heirs to siege.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources reveal a thriving, unacknowledged, semi-secret Middle East trade route that has sprung up between Israel and Iraq in response to rising demand. More and more goods are getting through despite difficult and often hazardous conditions.

The sudden demand in Iraq for Israeli six-packs owes much to the dearth of beer manufacturing in the strictly Muslim Persian Gulf region and the dry heat raging in Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosul and Basra, which makes an iced beer a favorite thirst-quencher for the close to 150,000 American GIs and 15,000 British troops sweltering there in full combat gear. Many Iraqis, too, have taken advantage of the new openness to their geographical west and cultivated a taste for the Israeli brew.

To meet the demand, trucks, loaded with beer produced in Israeli breweries working round the clock, roll nearly 1,000 miles east night by night, through Jordan and over two frontiers..

Beer is not the only Israeli commodity heading into Iraq. The convoys carry farm produce, foodstuffs, dairy products, eggs and ice cream, orders for which keep Jordan-based Israeli sales agents and their Jordanian counterparts with full hands and busy satellite phones.

With the national economy in recession and expanding unemployment, Israeli manufacturers are responding with brisk efficiency to any unexpected equipment shortages sprung in American units far from home - from mobile kitchen units to transformers. The US Army Corps of Engineers, the unit responsible for the maintenance of Iraq oil installations, airfields and military landing strips, have found they can obtain pipe sections, pumps or reinforced concrete faster and more cheaply from Israel than by airlift from the US.

There is also a constant flow of military products including spare parts – whether made in Israel, withdrawn from American emergency stores in southern Israel or unloaded under cover of dark from American cargo ships putting in at Ashdod and Haifa ports.