Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: Kerosene blues

February 2, 2008 |  8:04 am

The government is supposed to provide families with a monthly ration of 200 liters of kerosene for about $17. But because of widespread corruption, we are lucky to receive it once a year.

Instead, we have to hunt on the street for black market sellers to fill our jerry cans with fuel. In one month, a family could spend $300 on heating oil alone at a time when you are lucky to earn that much in salary per month.


People wonder why electricity and fuel supplies were better in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein. Some think it’s because of corruption, and others believe it is a conspiracy now by the government and the Americans to make people exhausted. People don’t know anymore what to believe.

— An Iraqi staff writer in Baghdad

Photo: Fuel shortages have spurred a lively black market for heating oil in Baghdad. Credit: LA Times