Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Electricity rationing in Iraq

Several weeks ago, workers from the Ministry of Electricity came to Abdul Kareem's door and asked him to fill out a form stating how many people live in his east Baghdad home. Next, the laborers installed a small box inside Kareem's home and then climbed an electricity pole outside and began fiddling with it.
Kareem didn't know it then, but he and his neighbors had become guinea pigs in an Iraqi government experiment to limit electricity use as demand soars, supply lags and officials accept that they cannot close the gap.
The plan, launched nearly three months ago, represents the latest break with one of the biggest promises made after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion: that services such as electricity and water would quickly surpass prewar levels.
If anything is seen as symbolic of the United States' failure to deliver on its promise that life would be better without Saddam Hussein, it is the lack of reliable electricity. And as Iraqis endure their fifth blazing summer without sufficient power, it is no surprise that resentment toward American forces remains fierce.

The above is from Tina Susman's "Electricity rationing in Iraq: A plan in parts of Baghdad and to the south assigns each home a limited number of amperes, ensuring everyone gets a share of the power" (Los Angeles Times) and doesn't it say it all? "Their fifth blazing summer without sufficient power, it is no suprise that resnement toward American forces remains fierce." Jaime Tarabay (NPR) reported on Monday that the Iraqi Parliament might have met that day, they'd planned to, were it not for the fact that they had no electricity in the building. All this time later and still nothing to show for it. But the line goes, if given more time Bully Boy will suddenly begin addressing it. He hasn't thus far. Just on the basics that have not been delivered, he's run Iraq like a slumlord and should have his butt hauled into court. When a slumlord is repeatedly caught out, we like to believe he (or she) is put out of business. But there seems little desire to do that with the illegal war. Little desire to bring US troops home and let Iraqis establish a genuine government of their own. Nouri al-Maliki's just the super in the tenenment Bully Boy's turned Iraq into.

In place of real solutions you get the administration offering the equivalent of "A new paint job! For all units!" because someone found some discontinued paint . . . lead paint. Which is how you get walls dividing up Baghdad or the 'innovation' of moats around cities. On the latter, from Tina Susman's "Trench proposed around Kirkuk" (Los Angeles Times):

U.S. and Iraqi officials Tuesday announced a ban on truck traffic into Kirkuk and proposed digging a trench around the northern city, where a series of bombs killed at least 76 people a day earlier.
The idea of encircling the city with a trench underscored fears that the violence in Baghdad and neighboring Diyala province will overtake the once-peaceful north as increased U.S. troop levels drive insurgents from the capital. Police in a village in Diyala said Tuesday that they suspected that Sunni Muslim militants chased out of the provincial capital of Baqubah were to blame for the slaying of 28 Shiite Muslims.
[. . .]
At a meeting in Kirkuk, officials announced the indefinite truck ban and the digging of the trench, which already had been planned on the southwestern and western edges of the city. There was no indication of when the project would be finished. Similar plans have been suggested for Baghdad but never have come to fruition.

Today the US military announced: "One Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed and four others wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their patrol during combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital July 17." And they announced: "Two MNC-I Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated next to their vehicle during combat operations in western Baghdad Tuesday." Currently, the ICCC total for the number of US service members killed since the start of the illegal war stands at 3622 with 43 for the month thus far. If you pay attention, you may notice the MNF is starting to slow down in announcing the deaths (ICCC's going by DoD announcements for the latest numbers). We'll assume the delay on issuing announcements just happened and for no known reason. (That last sentence was sarcasm.)

So while nothing gets done in Iraq? How about in DC? Brenda notes Shailagh Murray, Paul Kane and Debbi Wilgoren's "Senators Debate Iraq War in Overnight Session" (Washington Post) which tells a tale at odds with all the brave talk including the repeated refrain the US service members are not getting downtime in the midst of the illegal war:

A handful of U.S. senators sustained a marathon all-night debate on Iraq overnight, alternating speechmaking on the Senate floor with snatches of sleep in makeshift dorm rooms or, in some cases, at homes and apartments a few blocks away on Capitol Hill.
Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially warned that votes on legislation to withdraw combat troops could occur at any time during the night, he agreed shortly after midnight to delay even procedural votes until 5 a.m. and to put off until 11 a.m. a vote on legislation to bring home most troops by May.

That meant most senators could grab a few hours of shut-eye, so long as a few remained in the chamber at any given time to continue a debate which offered little, if any, movement toward resolving the stalemate over how to end the war.

The artilce notes that John Kerry spoke of the "just-declassified National Intelligence Estimate" which found "U.S. military operations in Iraq were leaving Americans increasingly at risk" and quotes Kerry stating, "We are creating more terrorists" and that terrorists are "using what is happening in Iraq as a recruiting tool, as a fundraising tool. It has become a magnet for jihadists." Rolling Stone has the National Intelligence Estimate in non-PDF format.

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