“If you don’t have money to pay bribes, you can’t get a job,” says one mechanical engineer. “I’d drive a garbage truck; I’d do anything,”
BAGHDAD — Every morning for a year and a half, Tariq Razzaq has been coming to the decrepit entrance of a neighborhood maintenance office in southern Baghdad with a single goal in mind: to get a job. Every morning, the office employees turn him down.
It’s not that Razzaq, a 29-year-old former soldier in Saddam Hussein’s army, isn’t willing to do the lowest-paid manual labor: On a rare good day, the maintenance office asks Razzaq to perform one-time jobs cleaning trash and war debris out of gutters. It’s that he doesn’t have the money to bribe his way into a job.
“It’s simple: To find a steady job you need to have connections, or pay cash,” explains Razzaq, who spends most days with a group of other unemployed men who loitering in the shadow of the maintenance office parking lot, hoping that someone would ask him to pump up his tires or wash his car. The other unemployed Iraqis nod emphatically in agreement.