Xinhua & John Simpson / BBC News – 2006-10-02 22:14:53
The Political Economy of A Failed Occupation
Xinhua News Service
BAGHDAD (September 24, 2006) — “During the sanctions on Iraq before 2003, we were eager to seethe light at the end of the tunnel, but now we are looking for tunnels to hide from blasts and death squads,” Manie said ironically. After three years of the US-led invasion, Iraqis feel they have to face more and more troubles with rising prices in amid ongoing inflation.
Um Muhammed, a mother of four children in Baghdad, said she only bought vegetables for her family, because she can’t afford the meat now. “But even the prices of vegetables are quite high. I sometimes buy onion, potatoes or other thing, but nothing in the market lessthan 1,000 Iraqi Dinars (0.7 dollar) one kilo, three or four times more than the prices six months ago,” the 45-year-old housewife complained while heading home from the market with three small bags.
Like Um Muhammed, many Iraqis find as well as the upsurge violence, they have to face a new foe, the rising prices, as the inflation is spiraling out of control in Iraq.
Fuel and electricity prices are up more than 270 percent from last years, according to Iraqi government statistics. Tea in some markets has quadrupled, egg prices have doubled.
“The price of nearly everything in my shop has increased dramatically during the past several months. Beef now runs as highas 9,000 IDs (6.2 dollars) one kilo, up from 5,000 IDs (3.4 dollars) last year,” said Allaa Hamid, a shop owner in Khadraa neighborhood in western Baghdad.
The price spiral has come as a shock to many Iraqis, who make about 150 dollars to 200 dollars per month on average even if they have jobs. Estimates of unemployment range from 40 to 60 percent. Many Iraqi families have no other choice but to struggle to make ends meet.
“We are buying according to priorities, I mean we buy the minimum of the most needed things,” Um Muhammed said with a sigh.
“Markets are filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat but they are very expensive. We even can’t afford to buy the most basic items,” said Mustafa Kamil, 56, a retired government employee who drives a taxi in Baghdad to make a living. “I used to entirely depend on the ration card which distributed by the government, but now we can’t get it regularly and several items were omitted from the ration cards,” he said.
Though more than three years after the collapse of Saddam regime, the Iraqis still face a severe shortage of electricity.
The government provides electricity only for four to six hours a day, nearly every family turns to substantial power sources, which cost an average of 35 dollars per month.
“I pay 60,000 ID (41 dollars) per month for buying electricity from private generators in my district to gain additional ten-hour electricity supply. The rest of the day I use my small generator,” Adnan al-Sarraf, 43, a government employee said. “This cost most of my salary because I also have to buy fuel for my generator,” he said, adding the current fuel price was beyond his imagination.
The war-torn country is sporadically facing a ridiculous oil crisis now. Gasoline in state-run gas stations is sold at 350 IDs (0.24 dollar) per liter, but in short supply. Many people have to purchase gasoline 1,500 IDs (1 dollar )per liter in black markets.
Though wild inflation has become the unbearable heavy for Iraqis, some still do not think it is their major problem.
“You see inflation could destroy our life but it can not kill us…. During the sanctions on Iraq before 2003, we were eager to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but now we are looking for tunnels to hide from blasts and death squads,” Manie said ironically.
“Complete Victory For The US… Is Now Out Of The Question”
John Simpson, World Affairs Editor / BBC News
Nearly 75% of Iraqis Now Support
Armed Attacks against US Occupation
LONDON (September 22, 2006) — Some 147,000 soldiers may seem a large number, and it is more than the US Department of Defense had been hoping to deploy in Iraq by now. But the overwhelming majority of them are not out on the streets, stopping the bombings and kidnappings and murders.
The total number of fighting soldiers in the American force is probably about 18,000 — quite a small number, given the area they have to cover and the size of the problem.
Even so, more troops does not seem to be the solution. It is probably too late now to introduce different tactics, but in policing hostile towns and cities there is no effective alternative to the foot patrol.
A well-trained platoon can control quite a large area, making it hard for their opponents to gather together and carry out attacks. Of course, armoured vehicles can cover more ground, but as soon as they have passed, the insurgents can come out of hiding again.
The Americans have never put enough foot patrols in the streets, and they long ago lost control of many towns and cities as a result. The US Department of Defense has now provided another measure of the problem it faces.
Its latest opinion poll carried out in Iraq indicates that, among the five million Sunni Muslims there, about 75% now support the armed insurgency against the coalition. This compares with 14% in the first opinion poll the Defense Department carried out back in 2003. It is a catastrophic loss of support, and there is no sign whatever that it can be effectively reversed.
The rise in hostility to the US forces is clearly linked to the onslaught against the town of Falluja in 2004. This, we are told, was ordered directly by the White House and the Department of Defense after the bodies of four American defence contractors were hung from a bridge in April 2004.
The ferocity of the attack by the US marines persuaded large numbers of Iraqi Sunnis that the Americans were their enemies.
The situation in the country as a whole has never seriously improved since then, and Falluja itself has still not been entirely subdued.
Last year, President George W Bush said he would accept nothing less than complete victory in Iraq. For many months, as the situation there deteriorated even further, he went quiet about his promise. But earlier this month, before the fifth anniversary of the attack on the twin towers, he repeated it.
That presumably had more to do with American politics than with the situation in Iraq. But the latest crop of figures indicate that complete victory for the US, whatever that might mean, is now out of the question.
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