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17:48
Latest News:
Democracy' Brings Bleak Days
*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*BAGHDAD, Jan 10 (IPS) - Many Iraqis see dismal days ahead in the face
of rising violence and the decision by the U.S. administration not to
seek any further funds for reconstruction.*

"It is obvious that the situation is much worse than it used to be,"
retired army general Ahmed Abdul Aziz told IPS. "Can you walk free in
the streets? Did you receive your food ration last month? It is
essential for most Iraqis to receive the food ration just to feed their
families."

The former Iraqi general added: "When you go to the hospital, do you
find medicines? The answer is no medicines, no services, no sheets or
pillows, no beds, no nursing, and no ambulances to carry you from your
house."

World Bank president and former U.S. deputy defence secretary Paul
Wolfowitz had said Iraq could "really finance its own reconstruction."
But such words have fallen flat because the state of the infrastructure
is clearly worse now than even during the harsh economic sanctions of
the 1990s.

As the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq approaches, a
study by Linda Bilmes at Harvard University and Dr. Joseph Stiglitz at
Columbia University found that "the total economic costs of the war,
including direct costs and macroeconomic costs, lie between 1 trillion
and 2 trillion dollars." A trillion is a thousand billion.

This money has done little for Iraq. The situation on the ground remains
dire, with estimates of unemployment at 70 percent.

"My three sons have graduated from college, yet they still cannot find
decent jobs because there are no jobs available," former deputy minister
for trade Dr. Abdul Hadi told IPS.

The Saddam regime "did not allow any of the graduates to be without
jobs," he said. Now there is even a severe shortage of teachers in the
universities.

"I will not be satisfied until I find that all the people have the will
to rebuild their country instead of humiliating their brothers," said
Dr. Hadi. "I want to tell (U.S. President George) Bush that he has
destroyed our country for at least the next 25 years. He is the greatest
terrorist, Arabs can never forget."

People have no recourse to law any more. "We are not living in a proper
way," restaurant owner Qassim Abdul Hamed told IPS. "We are suffering at
the hands of those who come in their vehicles just to have meals free of
charge."

The restaurant has to go on serving free meals to the Iraqi police, he
said. "We can't say a word because they have guns."

And the free meals have to be served when the cost of food has risen due
to fuel shortages. "There have been scuffles in the restaurant which we
have not seen before," Hamed said.

Munaim Abid Hassan, a 22-year-old waitress at the restaurant said she is
working to feed 12 people in her family, since she was the only one with
a job.

"We used to love the American people but not any more," she said.
"Hatred is spreading all over now, and everyone wants revenge on them.
You (Bush) are bringing disasters to the people of your own country, not
only to Iraqis."

With 2,206 U.S. soldiers killed so far, and more than 100 attacks on
coalition forces every day, occupation forces appear unable to protect
either themselves or Iraqis. Under the Geneva Conventions, it is the
responsibility of the occupying power to provide security for citizens.

"The Americans destroyed everything in Iraq," Gen. Aziz said. "I think
every Iraqi should weep all his life over what is going on. Bush should
be among the greatest terrorists along with his colleagues in Britain,
because they are all criminals who have killed hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis."


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(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

More writing, commentary, photography, pictures and images at http://dahrjamailiraq.com


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