Iraq’s Electricity Grid Nears Collapse

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MSNBC– Iraq’s electricity grid could collapse any day because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provincial officials who are unplugging local power stations from the national system, electricity officials said on Saturday.

President Bush, meanwhile, was busy on the phone, calling Vice president Adel Abdel-Mahdi and President Jalal Talabani, urging political unity in the country, where the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under a stiff challenge.

Abdel-Mahdi, a Shiite, and Talabani, a Kurd, provided few details of the conversations in statements released by their offices. But both men have been involved in trying to solve a government crisis after Iraq’s largest bloc of Sunni political parties ordered its ministers to quit the government.

For many Iraqi citizens, however, trying to stay cool or find sufficient drinking water was a more urgent problem. The Baghdad water supply already has been severely affected by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations.

And now water mains have gone dry in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, where the whole province south of Baghdad has been without power for three days. Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that.

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