A Memo & an Article (II)
"… it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public…People who wear jeans in public have come under attack."
It is not a new offensive campaign. There were many. One which was led by Khairlah Tulfah, Saddam's uncle & father in law, took place about thirty years ago. At that time, girls fashion was short skirts & the beetles' hair cut was for boys. Tulfah used to send groups of his bodyguard to tour the streets painting girls' legs & cutting boys' hair (beating them in many occasions).
It is not some kind of formal regulations. It is a way of showing power over people of a certain community. It spreads since the government can not implement law. So, it is either to be changed into a law or it will vanish along with enforcing law.
The memo says about power shortage:
"Temperatures in Baghdad have already reached 115 degrees. Employees all confirm that, by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without."And it is still the same in my neighborhood.
"Areas near hospitals, political party headquarters and the green zone have the best supply. One staff member reported a friend lives in a building that houses the new minister; within 24 hours of his appointment, her building had city power 24 hours a day."
And some eastern parts of Baghdad (Sadr city) have good supply of city power. That is because of kidnapping the under secretary of Ministry of Electricity (by Almahdi militia) and threatening him that he will pay his life for power shortage.
With such kind of heat, people are:
"contracted with neighborhood generator hookups that they pay for monthly. One employee pays 7500 Iraqi dinars (ID) per ampere to get 10 amperes"People in my neighborhood pay 12000 ID per ampere. Most people in Iraq makes an income of 150,000-200,000 ID per month. So to get 10 amperes, one has to pay more than half of his/her salary. The solution is corruption to earn more money.
Likewise is the shortage of oil products. Gasoline:
"prices on the black market in much of Baghdad were now above 1,000 ID per liter (the official, subsidized price is 250 ID)"This means about $3 per gallon.
The memo speaks about kidnapping and threats, which are things most of Iraqis have not witnessed before. People who kidnap and kill were fully monopolized by Saddam's government. After ousting Saddam, they found themselves out of their jobs. So, they started their own business by establishing NGOs (kidding) for kidnapping & killing people. And it seems that they are making good money out of the business.
An Iraqi employee works at the US embassy told them:
"… in mid-June that most of her family believes the US - which is widely perceived as fully controlling the country and tolerating the malaise - is punishing the population as Saddam did (but with Sunnis and very poor Shia now at the bottom of the list). Otherwise, she says, the allocation of power and security would not be so arbitrary."It is widely believed here that the Americans follow the same policy of Saddam toward the Iraqi people in the field of public services.
A good comment is made by the embassy:
"Employees are apprehensive enough that we fear they may exaggerate developments or steer us towards news that comports with their own world view."Listening to a stream of eerie stories from different persons requires lot of sanity to be able to examine their credibility. For example, I heard many strange stories about the Iraqi soldiers' bad manners. I came across Iraqi soldiers twice; one at a check point and the other when they searched the houses in our neighborhood; I noticed they are nice and polite people.
Now, the article which I refer to it in the head was published in the Commentary Magazine (June 2006) by Amir Taheri. It sounds so optimistic. The writer surveys what make the American people feel that they have been embroiled in Iraq:
"It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on his own just how grossly this image distorts the realities of present-day Iraq."
The writer introduces his own way of assessing the condition in Iraq:
"Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the country’s condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably accurate…"
To be continued…