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With 50ºC heat in Iraq, people even put the baby in the fridge

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The summers in Iraq they are always hot, but this time the thermometer read 52°C in the shade. did so much hot that this week Ali Karrar put his baby in the fridge for a few minutes.

That was when Ali Karrar, who lives in the town of Al Hilla, south of Baghdad, still had electricity, as the country went dark. And without electricity, refrigerator, air conditioning or fan are useless.

In Diwaniya, further south, Rahi Abdelhussein spends the day carrying bags of ice cubes to hydrate her children.

Across the country, merchants have installed pipes and faucets so people can get wet on the sidewalk before shopping. In a few minutes, they are dry again.

The worst, as always, was experienced in Basra, the only coastal city in the country, where the thermal sensation is multiplied by the humidity. That prompted the government to enact four holidays this week to keep residents from leaving their homes and cars from raising the temperature.

“We put the children to sleep on the floor so they have a little freshness and we adults don’t sleep all night,” Meshaal Hashem, a docker and father of three in Basra, tells AFP.

This year’s catastrophic situation is the result of dozens of actions that triggered reactions. As a result, at dawn on Thursday there were no watts on the country’s transmission lines.

Who is responsible? Question the 40 million Iraqis who in nearly 20 years saw half of the country’s petrodollars disappear into the pockets of corrupt politicians and businessmen.

“The Electricity Ministry says ‘It’s the Petroleum Ministry’s Fault’, Petroleum Says ‘It’s the Economy Ministry’s Fault’, the Economy says ‘Iran’s Fault’, Iran Says ‘The Iraqi Government’s Fault’ , the government says ‘it’s the people’s fault’, the people say ‘it’s the politicians’ fault’ and the politicians say we have to deal with it,” sums up, ironically, researcher Sajad Jiyad on Twitter.

The Ministry of Electricity has never renewed its circuits, in which it loses 40% of its energy, while the Ministry of Petroleum has difficulties in launching projects to transform natural gas and supply plants.

Iran, to which Iraq owes $6 billion in defaults for gas and electricity, decided on Tuesday to turn off the tap. Baghdad responds that it cannot pay its debts due to US sanctions against Iran and its own financial problems, as covid-19 has for some time been plunging oil prices, its only source of foreign exchange.

And above all, the government argues, few families pay the bills and there are many illegal connections.