The Looting of Iraq
Immediately after the fall of the Hussein regime, looters set ablaze court rooms and government offices. Title deeds, court records, police files, and vehicle license documents all became ash as well. The Saddam regime had kept files on all of its subjects, but it had been completely abolished with the US invasion and ‘Baghdad become ungovernable’. The only ministry the US troops protected was the oil complex, but only after the strategic date of the ministry of the virgin oil fields had been stolen.Hospitals, government food warehouses, and water facilities were looted, and the entire food ration list of the UN headquarters in Baghdad was taken.Iraqi woman Fauzia went to Basra University four times a week to chop up desks for firewood, and when she ran out of desks she began to chop the eucalyptus trees, which she claims:
‘If we had dared chop down the trees in the past, Saddam would have chopped off our heads’.
Local Shia militias spilled out of the slums to replace the past regime of Saddam Hussein. Civil disputes and hearings began taking place in mosques through Shia clerics and ‘Punishment committees’ began appearing in white tunics to distribute leaflets recommending that cinemas and liquor stores close.
A Senior UN official said,
‘What is horribly worrying about the looting, chaos and breakdown of order is that the systems we counted on may completely disappear or collapse. It would have taken a looter with technical know-how to do that’ Donald Rumsfeld called the looting, ‘part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom’.
Even Sadr city mosques became filled with x-ray machines and air conditioners as religious clerics asked for a requisition of the loot. Reserves in banks were taken to pay for new recruits for the Shias, and state property was proclaimed as ‘Property of the Hauza’ or Shia Curia through their idea that state property was owned by God and they were his representatives on earth.
Sadr city, at a population of two million, was ruled by Mohammad Fartosi, a 29 year old who made undergraduate students rulers of its 90 sub-districts. Sadr City mosque al-Hikma was Fartosi’s
headquarters, and was abundant with pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini and torture elements of Uday Hussein. In the corridors of the mosque were repossessed computers and copiers dishing out the latest fatwas by Fartosi. To enforce the fatwas, lower clerical members oversaw committees or lijan to enforce bans on liquor, collect rubbish, and repair masts for television damaged in the war with a 50,000 slum-boy force. Their vests had the words ‘Hauza Police’ embroidered on the front.
Sheikh Khalid al-Qathmi, whose forecourt included a 23-seater Nissan bus and three landcrusiers said ‘If the state has possessions, and the state is illegitimate, then its possessions belong to the people and their representatives, the Hauza’
Evicted from the Alwiya maternity hospital in Baghdad, Dr. Taweel said:
‘Politics should be left to the politicians, religion to the clergy, and hospitals to the doctors’