Monday, September 15, 2003

Iraqi policemen, smartly dressed in pale blue shirts and dark blue trousers, are a fairly common sight nowadays - a sign that local forces are taking over at least some of the simpler duties of law enforcement from American GI's.

But when you see one policeman stopping cars at a checkpoint and five of his colleagues sitting in the shade nearby, it's because the man working would not dare try to enforce his authority without moral support from a group of his fellow officers.

Baghdad's bustling sidewalks are piled high with merchandise - local produce such as peaches, plums, okra, and dates, or imports like freezers and TV sets that have flooded the country since the new US authorities suspended customs duties. (You can even buy balsamic vinegar.) And novelties like Internet cafes have not worn off.

As private companies tentatively begin work, and employees at defunct state enterprises collect emergency payments, many Iraqis have money to spend after weeks of wondering how to make ends meet.

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