- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

BAGHDAD — U.S. authorities yesterday blamed sabotage by “rogue elements” loyal to Saddam Hussein for a series of attacks on the Iraqi infrastructure, including three nights of power outages that have frayed tempers and sparked anger toward coalition forces.

The attacks on power lines and oil pipelines fit into a pattern of intimidation and violence that has been directed against Iraqis who are working with the coalition to restore vital services.

In the latest such attack, the director of a power station in western Baghdad was killed by armed men yesterday, an Iraqi electric-power official was quoted as telling Agence France-Presse.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator, said at a press conference yesterday there was mounting evidence of a concerted effort to “hinder the coalition’s efforts to provide a better life for the Iraqis.”

The city has been without electricity for three consecutive nights and much of each day, disrupting the water supply as well.

“The problem is due to sabotage of the power lines between Beiji and Baghdad. We are doing everything we can to fix this as quickly as possible,” Mr. Bremer said in reference to a city 140 miles north of the capital. “Almost certainly the saboteurs are rogue Ba’athist [Party] elements.”

But with temperatures routinely above 100 degrees, the outages have left many Iraqis angry at American forces.

“Give us electricity. What are you guys doing?” shouted an exasperated customer at Gandool Pizza Parlor as a Humvee full of U.S. soldiers prepared to drive off with a dozen boxes of pizza.

“Ali Baba, Ali Baba,” answered a U.S. soldier, using the nickname from “The Arabian Nights” now universally applied to the thieves and looters who have harassed the country since the regime, and its police forces, were dismantled.

“Under Saddam at least we had water, electricity and jobs,” retorted the complaining customer. “You’ve made life worse for us now than under Saddam.”

The Humvee left in a cloud of dust.

The disruption of electricity follows a series of attacks on pipelines that are vital to Iraq’s economic recovery, raising suspicions of a coordinated effort to create chaos.

The Washington Times reported earlier this month that deposed leader Saddam Hussein had instructed followers before the war to carry out such a program in the event the country fell to coalition forces.

The latest attack on the pipeline system occurred at Barwanah, 155 miles northwest of Baghdad, disrupting fuel deliveries to a refinery and a power plant in the capital, an official of Iraq’s Northern Oil Co. told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

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