Five Years Later, Iraqis Still Lack Basic Services, Believe Surge Has Made Security Situation Worse

saddams.jpg This week marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Iraq. While security has improved, there are growing concerns by both Iraqis and U.S. military officials that it will rise again in the near future. As has been widely noted, this lull in violence has not led to political progress. It also hasn’t led to an increase in services in Iraqis’ everyday lives.

McClatchy reports on these “worms in the water” five years after “liberation”:

To them, the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanating toxic fumes.

The list goes on: black-market fuel, phone bills for land lines that haven’t worked in years, education and health-care systems degraded by the flight of thousands of Iraq’s best teachers and doctors. […]

In some poor areas of Baghdad, militias or Iranian-backed charities have become the main source of propane tanks, food staples, garbage collection and other services that the government should provide.

A new poll for BBC, ABC, ARD and NHK finds that a majority of Iraqis think their lives are good, “more than at any time in the last three years.” Yet at the same time, 72 percent oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq and 61 percent believe that these troops are making the security situation worse. Additionally, 53 percent say that Bush’s “surge” has “made overall security worse, not better,” and a plurality want foreign forces to leave immediately.

A look at some areas of Iraqi life that the surge hasn’t been able to lift up. In many cases, these services are worse than they were before the U.S. invasion:

Services % Rating ‘Bad’ % Rating ‘Good’ Snapshot Of Problems
Availability Of Jobs 70 29 The nationwide unemployment rate is currently between 25-40%, where it has remained since November 2005, according to the Brookings Institution.
Supply Of Electricity 88 12 The average hours of electricity per day is at 9.7 hours nationwide, one of the lowest levels since the surge began in early 2007. Baghdad currently has an average of 7.5 hours of electricity, down from pre-war levels of 16-24 hours.
Availability Of Clean Water 68 30 In late 2007, the World Health Organization confirmed that cholera had infected at over 7,000 Iraqis. Cholera is “typically spread by drinking contaminated water.”
Availability Of Medical Care 62 37 New ICRC report finds that hospitals lack “qualified staff and basic drugs.” Health care facilities “have not been properly maintained, and the care they provide is often too expensive for ordinary Iraqis.”
Freedom To Live Anywhere Without Persecution 60 40 In August 2007, the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization indicated that “the total number of internally displaced Iraqis [had] more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000” since the surge started in February. Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, “is now 75 percent Shia.”