Multiple things are,What Iraqis suffer from [Archives:2005/869/Reportage]

August 18 2005

By Mohammed Khidr
Yemen Times Staff
[email protected]

The first aspects of the Iraqi people suffering were those when the American and British forces started an all out war on the country on 20 March 2003. US-British armies showered the people of Iraq with long-range missiles and air raids at a rate of thousands of sorties everyday, causing the death and wounding of thousands of innocent people in addition to destruction of buildings and infrastructure that were already suffering due to fourteen years of harshest sanctions and blockade no nation had ever seen in history of humanity.

The allied American and British armies advanced on land from their Arab peninsula military bases and in three weeks invaded the whole country and captured the capital Baghdad.

I do not need to narrate what entailed the invasion of destruction, killing and collapse of the entire state of Iraq and unprecedented chaos that dominated for long time every walk of life in the country.

The occupation period and domination of the multi-national forces in Iraq under leadership of the United States of America and its closest ally Britain is approaching its third year next April. Apart from absence of security and prevalence of crime and robbery, there is the lack of the most essential and necessary services to maintain life of the Iraqi people. The most important and needful services are those of electricity and pure water. The Iraqi people situation since the American-British invasion is like that of leaping from saucepan into fire.

The story of electricity is the most tragic aspect in the life of the Iraqis nowadays especially in the hot season of summer that extends for several months starting from the mid of May to the end of September. Temperatures reach more than fifty degrees centigrade in most of the days of summer especially in July, the peak month of heat. Electric power supplied by government power stations comes only a few hours during the day and night of everyday. If you calculate the hours of government power supply in the twenty-four hours of they day they would mostly not exceed six hours per day, many times very many less. It is really a catastrophic situation because cut of power means paralysis of every activity of daily life. In addition to one being deprived of using cooling facilities to stand the scorching heat of the day there results incapability supplying water services as they depend on electric power for pumping and distribution. Thus the problem of loss of power complicates the whole situation for the people of this afflicted country. Of course it is apparent how power cut for long hours would affect industry production and health care in hospitals and other health institutions.

Unfortunately, I timed my visit to my family in Iraq in the month of July and spent almost all of it there. I have experienced on the ground suffering of the lack of electricity supply.

It is true to say the need is the mother of invention. Every family managed hard to obtain household power generators to operate them during the long hours of power irregular outages. But these generators are not enough to operate air conditioners and refrigerators. They can supply power only enough to switch on fans and lamps in the night. To make for this shortage of power supply some people who have enough money have bought larger power generators that could feed tens of houses with electricity and put them in residential areas to sell power to families per month fees. But despite of that one cannot dispense with his home generator. Walking in the streets of any residential area one would see a web of electric wires fitted to electric poles and end at the generator of the houses block. Instead of the usual sight of four or three lines of electric cables tied to electric poles you would see a large bundle of them. Younger men and women work alternately on switching on and off from generator to generator, i.e. from the household generator to that of the residential area placed on the sidewalk of streets. When power supply comes through, as the people of Iraq call it, the national network people rush to plug off supply coming from the street generator and vice-versa. Of course this happens irregularly because one cannot tell when power is going to be supplied by the “national network”. Therefore there always must be someone vigilant to watch the changes which happen at any time of the day or night, sometimes very late at night. Sometimes there is neither national power supply nor that from the street generator, so families have to operate their own generators which are practically a problem because of shortages of fuel at petrol stations and people are many times forced to buy it from the thriving black market. To follow up doggedly and properly these duties sleeping is very little for Iraqi families that suffer from multilateral aspects of problems since the invasion of the US-led forces.

Not to have enough sleep is in fact an agonizing experiment. When I was there I likened the situation to the kind of torture practiced in some countries of the world against prisoners when there is a forced deprivation of sleep imposed on them just for humiliating them. Waiting watchful to switch from one power supplier to another day and night is quite similar to forced wakefulness practiced against prisoners in prison cells.

I cannot skip the fact that there are some acts of sabotage against power stations by saboteurs and insurgents but it is also true that big powers with all their military might such as the American and British are able enough to provide protection to power stations on the one hand and to build others very quickly to make for the destroyed ones if they really want that and if they are really sincere about their propagated aim of invading Iraq, namely, liberate the people of Iraq from the harshest dictatorial regime and to install a democratic one instead. It is especially so when we realize that security file in Iraq is still in the hands of the occupying forces despite formation and training of Iraqi police and army personnel.