The American Enterprise

Iraqi bulls.(economic conditions)

The brochure is slick, even by American standards, featuring colorful logos and a photograph of a river flowing toward a gorgeous sunset. Other than the mosque on a bluff overlooking the water, the advertisement is indistinguishable from any other commercial flyer hawking consumer debit cards. But this one is being circulated in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra.

"We want to live like Americans, with credit and easy transactions," says Zuhair Ali Akbair, general manager of the Basra branch of Iraq's Central Bank. The cards, along with the roughly 200 machines that read them, could hit the Arab street as early as mid May, he adds. There's just one problem: the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad will not approve the card's release.

"Baghdad wants debit cards before we get them in Basra. …

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