Fears of Civil War Cripple Baghdad Commerce

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Concerns about the possibility of Iraq sliding toward the abyss of sectarian war once again have strongly affected commercial activities in Baghdad. Wholesalers in many provinces shifted to the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, which enjoys security and stability, to obtain goods. Also, real-estate prices in the capital dropped significantly due to a considerable rise in supply.

Traders of food products and construction materials in the predominantly Sunni city of Ramadi, in the west of Iraq, told Al-Monitor that they decided to shift to the wholesale markets in the city of Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, out of fear of going to the Iraqi capital following news that Shiite militias set up checkpoints in the western entrances to Baghdad in search of Sunni men arriving at the capital.

Although the Iraqi security institution denied the news, the transit station for those traveling to Baghdad in Ramadi and Tikrit, in the predominantly Sunni Salahuddin province, has been almost empty in the past few days.

Naim Naji, one of the main suppliers of sugar in the city of Ramadi, said that he made arrangements with dealers in the city of Erbil to provide him with sugar, since he ceased all dealings with traders in the Jameela market in Baghdad's Sadr City, a stronghold of supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr .

Naji told Al-Monitor, "At present, it is impossible for me to get near Baghdad, specifically near the industrial area in Jameela, since militias are setting up checkpoints and kidnapping Sunnis.”

"I contacted Kurdish dealers in Erbil who will supply me with the amounts of sugar I need," he added.

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