Baghdad's traffic cops

Weirdest story from Baghdad yet:

BAGHDAD — Death squads move with impunity after curfew. Abductions are rampant, but kidnappers are rarely caught. Corruption has poisoned every layer of government, yet few have faced criminal charges.

Double-park a car on a Baghdad street, however, and you can be sure of this: The law will hunt you down.

Abdel Nasser, a 32-year-old traffic officer, describes himself as a "mujahid," or holy warrior, battling evildoers in a city without signs, traffic lights or speed limits. In this pandemonium of sputtering wrecks and speeding U.S. military Humvees, directing the flow of traffic is a religious duty, he said.

Nasser and his colleagues are beacons of civility in the choppy waters of Baghdad traffic, where the term "riding shotgun" is taken quite literally. Until recently, they valiantly defended deadly intersections with only a whistle. Now they have a handgun too.
The writer got a little carried away with that lead...

(Thanks, E.H.)
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.