May 25, 2007

One Day in the World's Most Dangerous City

Parliamentarian Mithal al-Alussi from the Iraqi National Party is sitting in the Grill Room at the Hotel Rashid, an 18-story building in the Green Zone. Many members of parliament live in the hotel because living anyplace else in Baghdad would be too dangerous for them. But the militias occasionally even fire at the Rashid from the distance.

Alussi discusses the current hot-button issues in Iraqi politics: the oil law that is meant to ensure equitable distribution of the country's oil revenues that the political parties can't seem to agree on; the question of whether former members of Saddam's Baath Party should continue to be excluded from public service, which the Shiites favor and the Sunnis oppose and, finally, the question of parliamentary vacation, which ...

Alussi is interrupted in mid-sentence as the lights suddenly go out. There is deafening roar in the distance and the room has fallen silent.

+++ 2:45 p.m. A car bomb explodes on the busy Wathba Square in central Baghdad. Seventeen people die and 46 are wounded. Television reports show a crater in the ground filled with rubble, splintered wood, bits of metal and a tire. Iraqi and US soldiers secure the area. A similar attack nearby on April 18 claimed 127 lives. +++


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