Black market flourishes in Baghdad

In the days after Baghdad fell looters ransacked the city. The goods they made off with, including items from deposed leader Saddam Hussein's palaces, turned up in the "market of theives" in the heart of the capital

     

    Days after Baghdad fell to US-led forces, gangs of looters ransacked the city, scavenging for anything they could lay their hands on.

     

    TV scenes beamed around the world showed impoverished Iraqis lugging away everything from office equipment, vases, rolled-up carpets, to portraits which had once adorned the walls of deposed leader Saddam’s Hussein’s palaces.

     

    Looters swept through
    Baghdad for days after it fell

    If Hussein or his two sons, the whereabouts of whom are still a mystery, want their possessions back they will have to make their way to Baghdad's “market of thieves.”

     

    Here shoppers can find anything from electric appliances, to spare car parts to jogging suits and shoes.

     

    “These things belonged to Oday, the eldest son of Saddam Hussein, and the Iraqi National Olympic Committee,” said one man hawking sporting goods. “We stole them and brought them to be sold.”

     

    He adds that he is new to the job but black markets have been around in Iraq for years.

     

    Government buildings and Hussein’s opulent palaces were gutted by people, many angry at the government for the the suffering inflicted by its iron-first policies and then a decade of United Nations-imposed sanctions.

     

    As with most similar institutions around the world, there seems to be a distinct lack of conscience in peddling pilfered property.

     

    “Muraidi market is an old one,” said one Baghdad citizen. “It was established 10 years ago. It is good that these things have been looted from government institutes. People were deprived and tyrannised. They loot in order to survive - this is the main reason we were forced to steal,” he added.

     

    One trader even said that under the current harsh economic circumstances, a black market was necessary in order to ensure people had access to necessary goods.


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