Better Off Under Saddam

From Holden:

Water shortages in and around Baghdad are worse than ever before.

Residents of Baghdad’s suburbs have been experiencing serious water shortages for a month due to poor infrastructure, leaking pipes and wastage, according to experts.


Nearly half a million people have been affected by the scarcity. In some areas, water is available for only a few hours at night and for less than two hours during the day in other areas.

Nearly 300 water tanks have been distributed by the government and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in various areas of the capital. Some residents, however, must walk large distances to reach them.

“I have to walk almost 6 km to get clean water when the improvised tanks are empty,” said Safwat Ali, a resident of the Sadr suburb. “It’s a shame for a country surrounded by two of the biggest rivers in the Middle East.”


Water shortages have traditionally occurred in Baghdad during the summer months, due to the intensive use of air conditioning, public swimming pools and increased washing activity. This year, however, marks the first time shortages have been recorded in the winter months.

Oh, and speaking of Saddam…. what if he were to be aquitted?

After four months and 26 witnesses, prosecutors in the Saddam Hussein trial have offered little credible testimony directly linking the former leader to the killings and torture for which he’s charged.

But legal experts familiar with the case say the best might be yet to come – documents allegedly tying Saddam to the crackdown that followed an assassination attempt against him more than 20 years ago in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad.

Without compelling evidence, a guilty verdict against Saddam might not provide closure for victims of Saddam’s atrocities. But the experts caution that the documents – which include handwritten notes, interrogation orders and death sentences handed down by the Revolutionary Court – might not be enough to win a conviction.


The evidence to date – mostly testimony from people who were arrested and allegedly tortured – has pointed to a brutal crackdown but has not shown that Saddam played a direct role. Saddam and the seven co-defendants, charged in the Dujail killings, could face death by hanging if convicted.

“The testimonies we have heard so far are moving but they are not enough, and that’s causing us concern,” said Nehal Bhuta, a Human Rights Watch lawyer following the Saddam trial.

“What is needed is evidence linking each of the eight defendants to what happened or evidence that Saddam could not have not known,” he said by telephone from New York.