Iraqi Power Grid Nearing Collapse
By STEVEN R. HURST
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid, officials said Saturday.
Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari said power generation nationally is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days. The shortages across the country are the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, he said.
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.
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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.
Of course, the electrical grid was in poor shape when American troops arrived in 2003. Years of sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime saw to that -- and the U.S. had imposed these sanctions since 1990. Indeed, under this economic strangulation, much of Iraq's infrastructure fell apart.
Perhaps one reason American troops weren’t met with chocolates and roses in 2003 is because many Iraqis blame us for their humanitarian crisis that started long before the first "shock and awe" bombs fell. Whether you agree with them or not isn't the point. The point is that we have no moral standing in the Middle East as a result of these kinds of actions, and waging war in Iraq has only made the situation worse.
This is one reason why I say there will be no American-brokered “democracy” in Iraq and why the Bush plan for a “win” won’t happen, not in September, not ever. We haven’t won the hearts and minds. They don't trust us, they don't want what we're pitching. Only an organization that doesn't bear America's fingerprint can broker peace in Iraq.