Iraqis fight corruption and unbearable heat

The New York Times reports: At noon, the light bouncing off the hot concrete seems to bleach everything, like an overexposed photograph. Standing for more than a minute in the sun sets off a full-body sweat.

Even after sunset, as the temperature coasts down from 122 degrees Fahrenheit, or 50 degrees Celsius, to perhaps 108, Baghdad’s heat can seem like a living thing. It clings to every contour of the body, squeezing tight.

Iraq has been hot even by its own standards. Taking all conditions into account, the Weather Channel calculated that the peak day in Baghdad this summer felt like 159 degrees. It was a data point most likely of little use to outsiders unable to imagine even 122 degrees, and of little comfort to Iraqis living in it.

They have taken to the streets all around the country, protesting in central squares and blaming government corruption for the chronic electricity shortages that shut down air coolers and fans all but a few hours a day. In Samawa, south of Baghdad, protesters surrounded the governor’s house on Sunday evening and demanded that he resign.

Perhaps recalling that Iraqis have overthrown two governments in midsummer, in 1958 and 1968, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned that without quick fixes, the government will face “revolutionary sentiments.” [Continue reading…]

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