Iraq is in a state of primal anarchy.
So says journalist Patrick Cockburn. The evidence is abundant.
ITEM: The Iraqi state and much of society have been criminalised. Gangs of gunmen are often described on state television as "wearing police uniforms" . One senior Iraqi minister laughed as he told The Independent: " Of course they wear police uniforms. They are real policemen."
ITEM: Iraqi insurgents are no longer using just volunteers as suicide car bombers but are instead kidnapping drivers, rigging their vehicles with explosives and blowing them up, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
ITEM: BAGHDAD, Iraq -The brazen heist in downtown Baghdad began when about 15 armed men in Iraqi military uniforms pulled up in three pickup trucks outside a Rafidain Bank branch in the commercial neighborhood of Karrada. ... The robbery, witnessed by an Associated Press reporter from a passing bus, came as widespread lawlessness swept the capital Thursday with kidnappings, deadly attacks on police and the discovery of more mutilated death squad victims.
ITEM: One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.
ITEM: For several days this month, the main road between Baghdad and Basra was closed because two families were fighting over ownership of an oilfield.
ITEM: In Baghdad this month, a television crew filming the morgue had to cower behind a wall because the Shia guards were fighting a gun battle with the Sunni guards of the Electricity Ministry near by.
ITEM: A report by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights "cited worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in 'honor killings' of women." Mr. Nowak had not visited Iraq, saying it was too dangerous to collect evidence, but cited interviews with sources in Iraq, Jordan and other areas in the region.
ITEM: Gunmen opened fire on Sunni mosques and homes in a religiously mixed Baghdad neighborhood Friday, killing four people in an attack that drew the condemnation of Sunni leaders across the city. ... Lieutenant-Colonel William Brown, an intelligence officer who monitors the militias in east Baghdad, estimated that Shiite groups raised at least $US1 million a day through organised crime. The money came from "kidnappings, extortion, blackmarketeering and blackmail", Colonel Brown said.
ITEM: Thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the overthrow of Saddam. Payments of $US50,000 are routinely demanded and paid. Many people are killed even after the ransom is paid.
ITEM: Iraqis arriving from Cairo, Amman or Dubai book the window seats on the left. For good reason. It's the best place to endure the hair-raising nose-dive towards terra firma: keeping your eyes glued to the horizon helps stave off the nausea. In a maneuver known as "the corkscrew," the pilot banks the plane steeply to the left. Fifteen minutes and several thousand feet later, the aircraft finally levels off and prepares to land: conversation stops as the centrifugal forces hit passengers in the stomach. The downward spiral into Baghdad seems to last an eternity.
ITEM: Tranquilizers and antidepressants feature on most prescriptions, even for patients with sprained joints. "A large portion of Baghdad's adult population is on tranquilizers. Valium and Lorazepam are the most common," he says. "We lie awake every night, with the same thought running through our minds: no matter how bad today was, tomorrow is sure to be worse."
ITEM: NASSIRIYA -- Italy, the last major Western European ally of the United States and Britain in Iraq, ended its mission on Thursday, handing the province under its control over to Iraqi troops. ... One Italian soldier died in a road accident during a patrol just hours before the handover of Dhi Qar province, bringing a bitter end to a mission deeply unpopular in Italy.
I was still looking at the wounded man and blaming myself for not stopping to help. Other shoppers peered at him from a distance, sorrowful and compassionate, but did nothing.
I went on to another grocery store, staying for about five minutes while shopping for tomatoes, onions and other vegetables. During that time, the man managed to sit up and wave to passing cars. No one stopped. Then, a white Volkswagen pulled up. A passenger stepped out with a gun, walked steadily to the wounded man and shot him three times. The car took off down a side road and vanished.
No one did anything. No one lifted a finger. The only reaction came from a woman in the grocery store. In a low voice, she said, "My God, bless his soul."
I went home and didn't dare tell my wife. I did not want to frighten her.