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Baghdad today

Apart from the almost reports of this or that bombing or suicide-attack, little is reported from Iraq.    It is as if the "war" there is now successfully over.  

Patrick Cockburn, who has regularly reported from Iraq, in a piece "Baghdad Today" on CounterPunch reports on Baghdad today....

"Baghdad has a population of 7.6 million, or a quarter of the total Iraqi population, living in it. It is a dangerous but fascinating city where every neighbourhood has a different sectarian or political complexion. Though political murder is frequent by the standard of any country – 178 people were killed in January – there is far less violence than in the recent past. In the worst of times, in 2006 and 2007, up to 3,000 Sunni and Shia Iraqis were being killed every month, mostly in Baghdad. Explosions and gunfire were constant at that time, but in the past week I have not heard the sound of a single shot or bomb explosion.

Improved security is the most positive development, but in most other ways Baghdad has not changed. It still looks dirty, battered and poor, its people weary and on edge. For all Iraq’s immense oil income – $100bn last year – there are beggars on every street corner. “We produce over three million barrels of oil a day, so where is the money?” said a friend. This is the endlessly repeated refrain of Iraqis trying to understand why they have to live with only six hours of electricity a day and why half the population are unemployed or underemployed.

As I drove from central Baghdad east towards the Shia working-class bastion of Sadr City last week, it was clear that the floods were worst in the poorer districts. In addition, the water was so filthy and mixed with floating garbage that it was impossible to judge if it was a few inches deep or one was about to plunge into a deep pool. Traffic was all the heavier because there had been severe flooding on 25 December and, knowing what had happened then, people were rushing home to do what they could to protect their homes."


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