Two Iraq Realities

Life_in_baghdad_photo

What is the real state of Iraq? Is it this rosy picture painted by Ralph Peters, who accuses Western journalists of lying? Or is it the experience of these actual Iraqis explaining their situation? Or some impenetrable mixture of the two? One quick comparison. Peters:

"'The electricity system is worse than before the war.' Untrue again. The condition of the electric grid under the old regime was appalling. Yet, despite insurgent attacks, the newly revamped system produced 5,300 megawatts last summer--a full thousand megawatts more than the peak under Saddam Hussein. Shortages continue because demand soared--newly free Iraqis went on a buying spree, filling their homes with air conditioners, appliances and the new national symbol, the satellite dish. Nonetheless, satellite photos taken during the hours of darkness show Baghdad as bright as Damascus."

Here's Time's bureau manager, Ali al-Shaheen, on exactly the same point:

"My house is in what you might call a middle-class neighborhood in central Baghdad. I should start with the caveat that things there are better than in many other parts of the city - and the country.
But, we have state-supplied electricity six or seven hours a day. And this is actually an improvement! During the summer, we get three or four hours of electricity a day. Almost every house has a generator, running almost constantly. You can imagine the noise and pollution from thousands of generators - hundreds of thousands, if you count all of Baghdad.
Another problem is that all the generators run on gasoline, and prices have shot up. One litre of gasoline used to cost 20 Iraqi dinars before the fall of Saddam; now, it's 250 dinars. Just as demand has soared, supplies have fallen, so you see long queues of people at gas stations. These are a favorite target for suicide bombers.
Before the war, we had 20 hours of electricity a day in Baghdad. Of course, other parts of the country were not so lucky; in some places, there was only 12 hours of electricity."

I link. You decide.

(Photo: Samantha Appleton/Aurora Photos.)