By Wael Al Sallami, Iraqi Rubyist, CS grad student at TAMU
Let me break it down to a few key areas:
It's 2012, man has landed on the moon 43 years ago, and we in Iraq get 6-8 hours of power every day by 2 hour chunks. We've adapted by having 3 lines of power, the first is the power grid, the second is private sector large generators that are installed in every neighborhood, which only provide us with 6 hours of power during daylight, and it's broken up in chunks based on the power grid's schedule, the third is our own generators, which we fill up the gaps with, and which require us to frequently buy gasoline and actually store it in-house, a huge fire hazard. The heat goes up to 125 degrees during the summer, which is usually 8 months of the year, and given that neither the neighborhood generators nor our own generators are capable of running air conditioning, we usually sleep on the roofs of our houses during the summer because the heat becomes unbearable inside, even with fans on.
We are a country the size of California, and we have not one, but two big rivers, we don't have to purify ocean water, and yet our tap water is also unreliable, we get it for around 10 hours/day, and if you leave a glass of water for 30 minutes on your desk, you will notice about 2-3 mm of dirt gathered at the bottom of it, so most of us have purifying systems installed in homes; those run on electricity, see issue one!
Hands down, the crappiest in the continent, every year thousands of Iraqis travel to India for treatment, only to find another crapy healthcare system there. I know this first hand: I had a surgery in my right shoulder last August, now it's even worse thanks to them.
Let me put this way, a few months ago we had the Arab League Summit in Baghdad, as a security precaution, the government shut down all communications lines (cellphones, landlines, internet, etc.) for an entire week in Baghdad, they also enforced a week-long curfew country-wide, all to make sure that a hundred people or so make it safely from the airport to where they were holding the summit. That's a 4-6 miles drive, mind you.
Is not managed by the Ministry of Communications, and instead managed by the Ministry of Science and Technology. We do have a fiber optic line, but they're not using it, and instead are borrowing one from Turkey and Jordan. Since they're not the Ministry of Communications, they can't deliver it to homes as a DSL service, so they opt out to giving it to greedy third-party vendors, those buy each 1 Mbps of bandwidth for around $200 and sell it to other venders who in turn sell it to local internet providers who get it for $700. That bandwidth is then given to users by having every 20+ users share ONE mbps and charge $50 for the service. To give you some perspective, a 20 Mbps internet line costs $29.99 in the US.
Rebuilding the country:
A project has to be approved by the city council, they then give the tender to a big lobbyist contractor, who sells it to a smaller one, who in turn sells it to an even smaller one, and so on. In the end, what takes $100K to build, takes the end contractor who got the tender for $10K only about $6K, leaving $4k for himself, unless of course one of those contractors takes the money from the government and flee the country, that is.
First term, second term, um ... a third term?
Prime Minister, Nori Al-Maliky, has been in power for 7 years now, his second term is about to expire soon, yet he recently expressed that the Iraqi constitution allows for a third term, and that he's planning on running again because "Iraq is not America." A group of political leaders are working on a distrusting bill to take him out of power right now because a third term would effectively mean a comeback for dictatorship. Oh, and did I mention that he occupies both the position of Prime Minister AND Minister of Defense? His reasoning was that all the political parties were fighting for that position, so it's better not to give it to anyone. So the army answer to him, and the police do, too, because the minister is from his party so ...
Um, how is crappy for an answer?
More questions on international politics: