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IRAQ: Five years on, a different power struggle

March 24, 2008 |  9:33 am

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With no reliable electricity supply, Baghdad residents go to elaborate lengths to get enough power to light their homes and stay cool through the looming summer.

Zaki Jafar says he spends most of his teacher’s salary on buying and generating extra electricity and has had to take on extra work repairing washing machines to cover the rest of his expenses.

“Electricity is the pillar of everything,” he said.

Jafar spends about $50 a month for five amperes from a shared neighborhood generator, enough to power a refrigerator, lights and a few fans. But the owner only runs the machine for seven hours a day and it frequently breaks down. So Jafar spends another $50 a month on fuel for a small private generator.

He knows that insurgent attacks account for many of the outages and offered up this suggestion to the U.S. and Iraqi governments: “Build a safe zone like the Green Zone and build a power plant inside it.”

Read on to find out why Iraqis can count on only a few hours of power a day, five years after U.S.-led forces invaded.

— Usama Redha and Alexandra Zavis in Baghdad

Photo: A family makes do with light from battery-powered lamps during a recent power outage in Baghdad. Credit: Saad Khalaf / Los Angeles Times

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