Democracy Rising & Steven R. Hurst / Associated Press – 2007-08-18 22:49:49
Baghdad Runs Short of Water
(August 9, 2007) — For the past 24 hours, Baghdad has had virtually no running water.
Major parts of the city of six million people have lacked running water for six days, while daily high temperatures have ranged from 115 to 120 degrees. The tiny amount of water dripping through the pipes is causing many of those who must drink it to suffer acute intestinal illness.
According to reports, not enough electricity is available to run Baghdad’s water pumps. This in a country with vast energy resources.
Corporate media outlets-to the extent they have reported this horrific and mind-boggling story at all-have treated it as a failure on the part of Iraqis.
In reality, it is an appalling war crime committed by the occupying power, the U.S. military. It threatens the lives of tens of thousands of people in the short term and unthinkable numbers of people unless it is rectified immediately.
According to Article 55 of Geneva Conventions (1949) to which the U.S. government is a signatory: “To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”
Article 59 states: “If the whole or part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population, and shall facilitate them by all the means at its disposal.”
To say that a huge city deprived of running water is “inadequately supplied” would rank as one of the great understatements of human history.
Of course, the shortage of water-the most vital of all necessities-does not extend to the U.S. personnel and contractors occupying Iraq.
The U.S. government tries to relieve itself of its obligations by pretending that Iraq’s “sovereignty” was restored in June 2004. But that is just another hoax.
Since its illegal invasion and conquest of Iraq in the spring of 2003, the real state power in the country has been the U.S. military.
This latest catastrophe to afflict the Iraqi people is another poisonous fruit of imperialist occupation. Not even in the worst times during the U.S. blockade of Iraq from 1990-2003, did such a disaster occur.
The U.S. regime in Iraq must provide the people of Baghdad with relief in the short-term to avert unprecedented disaster. The U.S. occupation must come to an immediate end.
The officials responsible for the terrible crimes committed against the Iraqi people must be held accountable. The U.S. government owes Iraq vast reparations for the death and destruction imposed on that society by an illegal war of aggression.
Baghdad’s Water Taps Running Dry
Steven R. Hurst / Associated Press
BAGHDAD (August 15, 2007) — Ahmed Aidan sells bottled water from his small grocery in a west Baghdad neighborhood, and he’s lucky he does.
The capital is suffering through a water shortage, linked to the crippled electric grid that doesn’t deliver sufficient power to run purification plants and pumping stations.
“The situation is desperate. We’ve been getting tap water only one hour a day for a week now,” Aidan said. “We’ve gotten only one hour of electricity a day for the past four days.”
Vast sections of the Iraqi capital had lacked running water for 24 hours Thursday night, compounding the misery in a war zone amid the blistering heat at the height of the Baghdad summer. Residents and city officials said large sections in the west of the capital had been virtually dry for six days.
Baghdad routinely suffers from periodic water outages, but residents described the current bout as one of the most extended and widespread in recent memory.
Jamil Hussein, a 52-year-old retired army officer who lives in northeast Baghdad, said the water that does flow smells and is unclean. Two of his children have severe diarrhea that the doctor attributed to drinking what tap water was available, even after it was boiled.
“We’ll have to continue drinking it, because we don’t have money to buy bottled water,” he said.
The cost of purified bottled water has shot up 33 percent. A 10-liter bottle now costs $1.60.
Adel al-Ardawi, a spokesman for the Baghdad city government, said that even with sufficient electricity “it would take 24 hours for the water mains to refill so we can begin pumping to residents.” Noah Miller, spokesman for the U.S. reconstruction program in Baghdad, blamed the power outages on provinces north of Baghdad and in Basra in the far south where officials failed to cut back after taking their daily ration of electricity.
It was 117 degrees in the capital Thursday, down from 120 the day before, and even those who can afford air conditioning do not have the power to run it.
Baghdad residents who have banded together to use power from neighborhood generators face skyrocketing diesel fuel costs. It was going for nearly $4 a gallon Thursday.
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Suicide bomber: A suicide car bomber Thursday drove into a police station in Hibhib as recruits lined up outside, killing 13 people, police said. Hibhib, a largely Sunni town in Diyala province north of Baghdad, is where Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by an American airstrike last year.
The number of insurgents in the town linked to al-Qaida in Iraq has risen recently as military operations pushed them out of Baqouba, Baghdad and western Anbar province, police said.
Al-Qaida death: The U.S. military announced Thursday that the Iraqi army killed a man suspected of leading an al-Qaida in Iraq faction in the northern city of Mosul. He was identified only as Safi.
U.S. deaths: U.S. military said two U.S. troops were killed Tuesday in Baghdad, bringing to at least 3,659 the U.S. military death toll in the Iraq war, according to an Associated Press count.
Political group attacked: Police said Thursday night that mortar shells hit the Baghdad offices of the Iraqi Accordance Front, Iraq’s largest Sunni political group, a day after the group said it would pull five of its six ministers from the government to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s policies.