Saturday, February 17, 2007

Border-closings along with market-bombings causing food-shortages in Baghdad

Al-Quds al-Arabi says food prices in Baghdad have risen sharply in recent days, a phenomenon some attribute to the fact that major food-wholesale markets are closed following the bombing of the biggest such market, Shurja, on Monday February 12, and earlier market-bombings. With respect to the market-bombings, the Al-Quds reporter says, a lot of people think
[T]he aim of these market-bombings ahead of startup of the security plan was to launch a campaign to starve the people of Baghdad, in order to increase popular resentment against the government and cause [the security plan] to fail. And while most markets have closed in recent weeks because of the (general) security-collapse and the reluctance of merchants to sell, fearing additional cost-increases ...most Iraqis think the hunger campaign that Baghdadis are facing is the result of the recent events, and [Iraqis think] that the security plan, along with popular fears, has motivated many to start hoarding foodstuffs, and this has resulted in severe shortages in markets. And this is together with the bombings of major Baghdad markets, such as the Shurja market, which suffered three such attacks over a two-week period, in addition to other market...
In other words, people cite hoarding by households fearing shortages, and reluctance by merchants to sell, fearing additional cost-price increases, this behavior on both sides having been caused by the security-deterioration generally, and the market-bombings in particular.

But the journalist says the announcement of the closing of borders with Syria and Iran has had an effect on this too. Having canvassed the market-bombing and hoarding factors, (along with the related problem of getting goods into Baghdad in the face of increased roadblocks and checkpoints) the journalist continues:
However, wholesalers in Baghdad say the reason for the recent price-increases in the last few days has to do with the closing of the Syrian and Iranian borders, because most commodities and foodstuffs come to Iraq from those two countries, in addition to the market-bombings. Recent sharp increases in foodstuff prices coincided with the announcement of the border-closings, particularly in the case of fruit and vegetables, most of which come from those two countries.