Sunday, August 5, 2007

In Iraq, hundreds of thousands are without water as the electric grid teeters on the brink of collapse

When a delusional halfwit like Pollack or O'Hanlon, or someone idiotic enough
to tout those fools as credible, insists it's looking up in Iraq,
show them this picture of Iraqi's gathered for Friday prayers in West Baghdad.

As temperatures in Baghdad soared to 120º Fahrenheit, the electric grid wheezed and strained and sputtered, leaving western Baghdad without water. It simply can’t deliver the electricity to operate water purification plants and pumping stations.

The electric grid is on the brink of collapse, unable to meet rising demand. Compounding the problems, provinces are taking local generating stations off the national grid. Coalition bombing runs and insurgent attacks have destroyed the infrastructure of the grid, while fuel shortages inhibit electricity production. Of 17 high-tension lines running into Baghdad, only two were operational at the time the AP filed their story.

Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.

Karbala province south of Baghdad has been without power for three days, causing water mains to go dry in the provincial capital, the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

"We no longer need television documentaries about the Stone Age. We are actually living in it. We are in constant danger because of the filthy water and rotten food we are having," said Hazim Obeid, who sells clothing at a stall in the Karbala market.

Electricity shortages are a perennial problem in Iraq, even though it sits atop one of the world's largest crude oil reserves. The national power grid became decrepit under Saddam Hussein because his regime was under U.N. sanctions after the Gulf War and had trouble buying spare parts or equipment to upgrade the system.

The power problems are only adding to the misery of Iraqis, already suffering from the effects of more than four years of war and sectarian violence. Outages make life almost unbearable in the summer months, when average daily temperatures reach between 110 and 120 degrees.

Water is a necessity of life. In fact, it makes more sense to fight wars over water than it does over oil…(and even as I write that I get a chill up my spine, knowing that that day is coming, possibly in my lifetime, and certainly in the lifetime of my grandchildren.)

None-the-less, it activates my irony meter that this war over oil – and an arrogant determination to keep squandering a precious and dwindling resource foolishly – has stolen that necessity of life away from hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people.

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