Even when critical of the tragic situation in Iraq, mainstream media outlets cannot wean themselves away from the official master narrative and must slip in idiotic statements such as the one in today’s New York Times story about electricity in Iraq. Please note the second half of the title “ Electrical Grid Fails Iraqis.” So it’s the electrical grid, a neutral non-human element, which has failed Iraqis and not the superpower, which dismantled their state and replaced it with chaos! Yes, electricity is still below pre-war levels and Baghdad residents got five hours of it a day in July, but rejoice, readers, because “Iraq now has elections, a functioning, if imperfect, army and an oil industry on the cusp of a potential boom."
Five months after those “elections” there is still no government and the seemingly endless negotiations are still ongoing. Most Iraqis have lost any faith in the process and are disgusted with a corrupt regime that does not work for them, but against them. The current government has yet to deliver on any of its many promises. Boasts of improved security are routinely punctured by devastating attacks. July was the deadliest month for Iraqis in the last two years with 535 Iraqis killed.
The government has failed in other departments as well. It has yet to deliver basic services which are the least citizens expect, such as electricity, especially when the average monthly revenue from Iraq’s oil export is $4 billion. The impatience of Iraqi citizens manifested itself in recent demonstrations and clashes with police in al-Nasiriyya and al-Basrah. Demonstrators staged a mock funeral with a coffin bearing the word “electricity” stoned the police. At least two demonstrators were killed and many wounded. The Iraqi minister of Electricity was forced to resign (Reuters, June 21st) and the oil minister has taken over temporarily.
Not to worry though, some of that oil revenue is finding its way back to the US. Iraq will begin receiving M1 Abrams tanks, as part of an arms deal worth 2.16 billion. I think I read once that these tanks have air-conditioning inside. Most Iraqi citizens, however, will not be inside these tanks but on the receiving end. Or perhaps the government has a special genius plan of bombarding electricity into Iraqi homes. Bombing Iraqis into democracy didn’t work, but one shouldn’t give up on bombing just yet.
Another surreal story, which surfaced lately, was about the hundreds of mud-brick schools in Iraq. This is a country which managed to almost eradicate illiteracy back in the late 1970’s and had one of the best education systems in the developing world until the sanctions (1990-2003) did what the do so well to it. Recent reports confirmed that there are 1012 schools made of mud-brick.
These “schools” are very dangerous, lack electricity or sanitation and some have collapsed. The ministry of education claims that it is going to build new schools, but the director of media at the ministry, didn’t specify how many. I’m not holding my breath, especially that the government in Iraq has excelled globally and was ranked by Transparency International as one of three most corrupt government on the planet.
The Education Ministry’s website has a special page for the minister’s CV. He has two doctorates (but the granting institution isn’t mentioned). He has taught at universities for sixteen years (no names given) and he has advised “tens of graduate theses” and he is also “ a writer, poet, and lecturer.”
The US drawdown (a nice word for “incomplete withdrawal) leaves behind a few good men and the oil boom will buy tanks and build schools almost as good as the ones Iraq had in the 19th century. More good news soon.