Gas and Electricity Shortages Return
Glen Carey of USA Today reports that gasoline/ petrol and electricity shortages have returned to Baghdad, raising anxieties among Iraqis about how they will make it through the winter. The fall-off in megawattage and gasoline has to do in part with sabotage, since guerrillas have launched numerous attacks against pipelines, which are hard to protect. For most people, the electricity is on for two hours and then off for four. And people can wait in gas lines for four hours nowadays, too.
This situation in Baghdad is alarming because such shortages and lack of services contributed to the riots that broke out in Basra last August.
In a related story, a Korean company had 62 employees working on restoring the electicity infrastructure in the Sunni Arab region. Two of them were assassinated (as were two Japanese diplomats), provoking a workers’ rebellion, according to the Washington Post. The Korean ambassador intervened to ask for negotiations, and it was decided that the 60 civilian contractors would go back to Korea. They complained that they were given no security and had not been told back in Korea that the mission would be so dangerous.
So, some of the people who were helping with the electricity problems no longer are. One wonders if the Iraq experience will roll back the Pentagon’s craze for having civilian contractors do jobs that are really part of a military mission. You can order military electrical engineers in to do work in Ramadi. You can’t order civilians into a war zone against their wishes, as the Korean example demonstrates. In the meantime, score 1 for the guerrillas, who were aiming at precisely this outcome, as Kos notes at the fine site Daily Kos