By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: December 2, 2007
BAGHDAD, Dec. 1 — Jobless men pay $500 bribes to join the police. Families build houses illegally on government land, carwashes steal water from public pipes, and nearly everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market.
Painkillers for cancer (from the Ministry of Health) cost $80 for a few capsules; electricity meters (from the Ministry of Electricity) go for $200 each, and even third-grade textbooks (stolen from the Ministry of Education) must be bought at bookstores for three times what schools once charged.
"Everyone is stealing from the state," said Adel Adel al-Subihawi, a prominent Shiite tribal leader in Sadr City, throwing up his hands in disgust. "It's a very large meal, and everyone wants to eat."
One recent independent analysis ranked Iraq the third most corrupt country in the world. Of 180 countries surveyed, only Somalia and Myanmar were worse, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based group that publishes the index annually.