BAGHDAD // Flooding across Iraq that has left at least 13 people dead and caused widespread structural damage has also provided rich fodder for sarcastic Iraqis bemoaning their decrepit public services.
The floodwaters, which have cut off entire areas of Baghdad and several other cities to most vehicles, were caused by several days of heavy rainfall that overwhelmed the crumbling drainage system.
Video posted on Facebook depicted residents of the capital negotiating waterlogged streets in life rafts or on planks of wood, armed with makeshift oars.
Edited pictures proliferated on social networks, jokingly placing crocodiles in the Baghdad floodwaters.
Another superimposed Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s characters from the film Titanic on a bus making its way through the capital’s flooded streets.
Another depicted a bikini-clad western woman in the waters with the accompanying comment: “We have turned our neighbourhood into a tourist resort.”
Others showed residents sitting by well-known Baghdad streets with fishing rods.
“We are so lucky,” one Facebook user commented. “We have seen how people live in Venice, despite never having visited it!”
Some parodied a speech by the prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, in which he blamed political opponents for the flooding, suggesting deliberate sabotage was behind the failure of the drainage system.
“I saw a political opponent standing next to the drainage system, but I did not expect that he would ruin it!” the Facebook user Yassir Al Mussawi wrote, alongside accompanying pictures of his partially flooded home.
“Next time, I will arrest him and hand him over to the authorities.”
Others have mocked comments by the senior Baghdad official Naim Aboub, in which he blamed the flooding on a 150 kilogram rock blocking a main drain.
“Baghdad needs its own special forces regiment to protect the drains,” said Omar Al Shaher.
Mocking Iraq’s myriad of security forces, each with it own chain of command, Mr Al Shaher said: “What shall we name it? Will it belong to the Baghdad mayor’s office, or the Baghdad provincial council? I hope parliament takes care of this.”
The black humour has been accompanied by widespread frustration with the authorities over the flooding, which has caused extensive property damage.
At fault is a decrepit drainage system that, alongside an unreliable power supply and rampant corruption, is a leading complaint of Iraqis more than a decade after the dictator Saddam Hussein was removed from power.
“The rains have just illustrated how bad the corruption is on projects, especially sewerage projects,” said the writer Hussein Al Shammari.
“In all the provinces, projects were given to inefficient companies on the basis of nepotism. This is what we planted – we elected them, and they are our fruit.”
* Agence France-Presse