Baghdad - Eight Years After Saddam
Progress has been slow, with the country strill riven by social, economic and security problems.
The remnants of a statue of Saddam Hussein, famously pulled down on April 9, 2003, have become one of Baghdad’s landmarks. The statue stood in Firdos square in front of the14 July mosque. Firdos square has served as one of the primary locations for protests over a plethora of issues in recent years. (Photo: Hazim al-Sharaa/IWPR) Al-Bataween, once a wealthy Jewish neighbourhood in central Baghdad known for its charming homes, is now dilapidated. Basic services – including electricity, sanitation and rubbish removal - have been very limited in most areas of the capital. Their improvement is a key demand of Iraqi demonstrators. (Photo: Hazim al-Sharaa/IWPR) The Ishtar Sheraton (left) and Palestine Meridian (right) are being renovated as part of the Iraqi government’s preparations for the Arab League summit in May. Both hotels have housed international news agencies in the past and have been targeted by insurgents. (Photo: Hazim al-Sharaa/IWPR) Customers browse for books along Mutanabi street, in an older quarter of Baghdad. The outdoor book market, which draws hundreds of people on Fridays, is a famous hub for intellectuals. After a car bomb ripped through the street in March 2007, killing more than 25 people, the market was closed until late 2008. (Photo: Mariwan Hama-Saeed/IWPR) A member of Baghdad operation forces inspects vehicles at a checkpoint near the city’s main university in the Jadiriya neighborhood. Iraqi forces established hundreds of checkpoints in 2007 as part of Operation Imposing Law, a joint Iraq-American military effort to restore stability in Baghdad. (Photo by: Emad al-Sharaa) Hundreds of supporters of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in Al-Mustansriyah square on April 9, the anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, calling for the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) Ali Hassan, 37, prepares masgoof, a celebrated Baghdadi recipe for grilled fish, in a restaurant on Abu Nawas street, on the bank of the Tigris. Hassan said that he has been working in fish restaurants since he was ten years old. “The business is better due to the improvement in the security situation,” he said. “We have more customers after dark and we are open until late at night.” (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) Hussan Mohamed, 23, an engineering student at Baghdad University, walks past the al-Hurriya (freedom) statute in Baghdad’s Tahrir square as he heads home to Fallujah, 65 kilometres west of the capital. “Compared with the past few years, security is now better,” he said. “I’m going home to Fallujah even though my family told me that there is a curfew and I might not be allowed to enter the city.” (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) Sajjad (left) and Ahmed (right) sell canisters of petrol in Baghdad’s largest district, Sadr City. Sajjad, in his early twenties, said he had been selling petrol for the past two years because he was unable to find work in the public sector. “I have to pay a big bribe [to get a job] and I can’t afford it,” he said. (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) A web of electricity wires leads to a private generator in al-Chawadir street in east Baghdad. The meagre electricity supply has been a key complaint of citizens since 2003, and the rumbling of generators can be heard across the capital at all hours. (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) A war-damaged building in the al-Jamila neighbourhood is labelled “for sale”. The area was a battleground between Iraqi and American forces against the Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi army militia, which occupied this building in 2008. (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR) Shnawa Juma, 70, a resident of the al-Baya neighbourhood in south-west Baghdad, sits in front of his house next to one of the many concrete blast walls that weave around the city. The walls, some of which are now being removed, were erected to limit the movements of insurgents but have been criticised for creating a prison-like environment. “My house used to be on the main street,” he said. “Now all we can see are the walls.” (Photo: Haider Khudhr/IWPR)
Eight years after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Baghdad is awash with contradictions: nearly every neighbourhood has a dangerous web of low-lying electricity wires, yet never enjoys more than ten hours of power a day; there’s a functioning democracy, but the government is moving at a snail’s pace, provoking nationwide protests; despite the daily bombings, assassinations and gunfire, people spend more time talking about the capital’s infamous gridlock and dismal services.