Iraqis protest electricity, water cuts due to heatwave

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Hundreds of Iraqis protested in Baghdad on Friday against worsening power and water cuts as temperatures exceeded 50 degrees Celsius in parts of Iraq.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr attend Friday prayers in Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on July 2, 2021. REUTERS / Thaier Al-Sudani

During Friday prayers in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, men sweated and prayed under umbrellas, then staged a protest criticizing the government for not providing enough electricity to its citizens.

” It’s getting worse. We can have power cuts, even 10 hours of power cuts a day, but just give ourselves something, ”said Haider Hussein, a 32-year-old worker.

Electricity was cut off completely in most of the country’s provinces before dawn, residents said, during some of this year’s worst shortages. Some of the electricity from the main grid had returned to Baghdad in the afternoon.

The skies over Baghdad, where residents have better supplies than poorer parts of southern Iraq, darkened with smog after sunrise as homes ran their diesel generators for much longer periods than usual.

Electricity on Iraq’s main grid suffers year-round cuts lasting several hours each day, but shortages worsen during the hot summer months when temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees and households depend on air conditioning.

The Iraqis blame a government that depends on energy imports from Iran and which they say has failed to develop Iraq’s own grid to serve its people. Iraq’s electricity minister resigned this week under pressure from the electricity crisis, local media reported.

Haider al-Saidi, a 52-year-old tribal leader demonstrating in Sadr City, blamed the political class that have ruled Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“From this regime to this one, we still don’t have enough electricity. What has democracy brought? It is going from bad to worse, ”he said.

The reduction in Iran’s electricity supply this month and a series of attacks on power lines by militants have exacerbated the electricity crisis.

Reporting by Reuters TV, written by John Davison, editing by Angus MacSwan

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