I hate to start a post with such a negative shock-title, but that's what's on my mind lately.
Yesterday Omar told me he had seen someone shot to death after their car was run down by a vehicle full of men with guns. A phenomenon so common these days in Baghdad, perhaps we should start referring to them as UMWGs, or Unindentified Men With Guns.
To make matters worse, this happened just outside Omar's home. in Adhamiya where Isam lives, US troops have replaced possibly corrupt Iraqi forces in policing the streets and pursuing terrorists. It is interesting that the US has said it will target 4 hotspots to stabilize Iraq.
Unfortunately, these areas, Mansur, Adhamiya, Doura, and Ghazaliyah-Shula are all majority Sunni areas, except for the Shula section of the last area. Now, for sure there are resistance and insurgent elements in some of these areas, but this appears to demonstrate that, despite all their talk, the US military currently has very little stomach or intention to confront the militia, read sectarian, violence head on. In our next video, you'll see how Adhamiya, targetted as a haven of violence, has actually been the target of unhindered militia violence of late.
There has been a siege atmosphere in Adhamiya over the last month, which may be calming with the US presence, but may trade one source of violence for another. It is also becoming more and more difficult to contact Isam and to reach people living in this area, due to the ongoing "sectarian" violence there. Isam tells me that there is only one internet cafe open in Adhamiya, and the lines there are getting almost as bad as the gas.
Gas, now there's an issue. Omar also told me yesterday that now gas is going for $30 per 20 liters in some parts of Baghdad! That should give comfort to Americans considered at teh $3/gallon price we pay. $30 for 20 liters translates to approximately 5.68/Gallon.
This has led to the virtual shut-down of the large neighborhood generators which were one of the final tools keeping the power on in much of Baghdad. Particularly in the neighborhoods of the Karkh area of Baghdad, such as Mansur, Yarmouk, and others, these generators were keeping the AC on during the late summer, where temperatures have soard past 110s to 120 lately.
As if these issues weren't enough, Omar also told me our correspondent who was kidnapped has received a new death threat. We are working on getting him a camera however, and when that happens, he'll begin publishing anew.
Last and perhaps banale enough, a recent power surge had fried Omar's motherboard, cutting off our communication via the internet and his ability to work on transcripts of his interviews and send regular updates.
The troops may be staying in Iraq or headed back to head off a civil war, but that hardly seems to be the only crux to foment stability in Iraq these days. Whether Iraq is in a civil war or not sometimes seems to be unimportant set next to the question of whether life will ever be seen to be stable or decent again in Baghdad. The answer to that question looks more and more like a firm "No, sir."