My sister’s house was robbed a few weeks ago. The robber was smart enough that he didn’t take any heavy thing. He was able to find the money my sister and brother-in-law saved. He took a the entire $5,000. It was a big shock to my sister. She said she hid it well in the house, but she wasn’t smarter than the robber whose main job is to be smart in finding money and valuable stuff.
My sister did not put the money in any bank for several reasons. There were a lot of incidents reported that insurgents and militias hover over the areas where banks are located. They wait for preys to kill and take their money to buy weapons and pay their fighters their monthly salaries. The other reason is that banks are not reliable in Iraq. If something happens to the bank, the government won’t be able to compensate the people. So, my sister saved the money at home!
After the robbery, my sister and brother-in-law have become torn. They didn’t know what to do with money. Should they put it in a bank and expose themselves to the danger of being robbed in the streets, or keep it at home and get robbed again. So, they finally decided to put it in bank. And here where all the shock came.
My brother-in-law went to al-Rafidain Bank, one of the famous banks in Baghdad that has branches everywhere in the country. They went to the branch in Ilwiyah neighborhood, near Karrada. As soon as he got in, he noticed that the bank was neglected. Dust was everywhere, the smell of cigarettes filled every room there. From behind the counter, one of the employees gave him the bad news.
You are not registered in this neighborhood. You can’t open a bank account unless you live here!!!!!
My brother-in-law was completely shocked! He has his parents having bank accounts in areas outside their neighborhood and this news was new to him. He asked the employee again, but she insisted that he cannot do it. “These are new orders from the ministry of finance. It’s the government law,” she told him.
To his dismay, my brother-in-law and sister left the bank and went to al-Rasheed Bank, another famous bank in Iraq. The employees there told him exactly what the al-Rafidain Bank employee said.
“They must be kidding me,” he said. “Probably they need a bribe or something." He tried to convince the second lady that he can buy her some prepaid cards for her cell phone. She told him she would happily take them, but there was nothing she could do. It’s a new law.
So, the couple went to another branch of al-Rasheed Bank in Zayoona neighborhood where my brother-in-law’s sister lives. The exact thing happened. My brother-in-law got very angry and asked the employee to meet the manager of the bank. When my brother-in-law saw the manager, whose cigarettes never left his purple-colored lips, he was shocked again when the manager told him why he is even thinking of opening a bank account. He told him it’s better to save it at home! Then, the manager said that he cannot do anything about it. They cannot open bank accounts to those who are not living in that neighborhood. It’s the law!!
So my sister and brother-in-law resented to the fact that they cannot do it unless in their neighborhood which they didn’t trust. They drove back to where they live and went to the bank in the neighborhood. When they asked the employee there about opening a bank account, she told them they are not opening bank accounts now to people because “they don’t have check books.”
Hysterically, my brother-in-law went to the Zayoona bank account again and met with the same manager and told him that there should be a way of doing it. The manager felt bad for my brother-in-law. He told him we can do it, but you have to go through a series of long bureaucratic procedures in order to open the bank account. He asked him to bring a letter of recommendation from the Mukhtar mayor-like official of the neighborhood to prove that his sister lives here. Secondly he has to go to the municipality of his neighborhood to prove that he lives there. And so they did. After a lot of effort to convince their neighborhood municipality, they finally got the letter and my brother-in-law’s sister contacted the Mukhtar who wrote them a letter of recommendation to take along with the other documents. Tomorrow, they will go to the bank and open a bank account.
When my sister told me about all of this just a few hours ago, I got so frustrated. First of all, it’s just a bank account. Secondly, and most importantly, what kind of new law is this? You can’t open a bank account in a bank outside your neighborhood? Isn’t that totally sectarian? Isn’t the government supposed to open the barriers and bring the people together after they were divided by them? Is there any other explanation that this government is dividing the people and the country in every aspect of life? Now because my brother-in-law is a Sunni, he cannot open a bank account in the Shiite neighborhoods? But my sister is a Shiite?!!! What should she do to open a bank account? Get a divorce?
The minister of Finance is Bayan Jabur Solagh? Familiar?! Of course, he was the Interior Minister under Jaafari’s era. He was the leader of the Iranian-trained Badr troops whose crimes were obvious to everyone. Wasn’t it enough that the militia he headed drill-tortured Iraqi civilians and killed them afterwards?
All those Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, and even the secular exiles who came to power are nothing but a bunch of killers. They did nothing to improve the lives of people. They even destroyed the few things people enjoyed Saddam.They came to take revenge not from Saddam but from the Iraqi people who lived under his tyranny. I can’t see any hope in this country any more. It’s governed by thugs, by haters and by a group of “people” whose loyalty is to their parties and the countries that hosted them, not to their wounded country and its people.