Clean water and electricity in Iraq
for the 1,000 people who are lucky enough to live in the $592 million U.S. Embassy.
"It's all for them, all of Iraq's resources, water, electricity, security," said Raid Kadhim Kareem, who has watched the buildings go up at a floodlighted site bristling with construction cranes from his post guarding an abandoned home on the other side of the Tigris River. "It's as if it's their country, and we are guests staying here."
When completed in September, the compound will have the amenities of a small town, with six apartment buildings, a palm-fringed swimming pool, a gym, fast-food outlets, a barbershop and beauty salon, and a commissary stocked with the comforts of home. It is designed to be entirely self-sufficient, boasting its own power plant, wells and wastewater treatment system, according to a December 2005 report for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The magnitude of the new compound, with nearly the same acreage as Vatican City, has convinced many Iraqis that the United States harbors long-term ambitions here, even as domestic pressure mounts to start bringing the troops home.
"They're not leaving Iraq for a long time," said Hashim Hamad Ali, another guard, who called the compound "a symbol of oppression and injustice."