IRAQ

A bit of hash with your Viagra sergeant?

An insight into the daily life of American soldiers in Iraq. In this video, filmed from the top of an army vehicle, backstreet vendors try to peddle Viagra and hashish to the soldiers.

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An insight into the daily life of American soldiers in Iraq. In this video, filmed from the top of an army vehicle, backstreet vendors try to peddle Viagra and hashish to the soldiers.

"I've seen it happening many times"

Our Iraqi Observer in Baghdad, who goes under the name of "Last of Iraqis":

This [video] didn't come as a surprise at all, it can be found anywhere. They sell everything. It's a very open trade. I've seen it happening many times. There's even a market in Baghdad - Bab Al-Sharji - where they do it.

It looks as though it was filmed in the south of the country, where they tend to smoke hashish. It's not popular here in Baghdad. In fact generally taking drugs is not done by higher classes. It's only poor people, so the trade's not a big part of the economy. They're small-time dealers."

"They [Iraqis] must think we're a bunch of drug takers"

Ernesto Haibi, our Observer who served in the US army in the Iraq war:

We had problems with Iraqis trying to sell over the counter medicines. There's a lot of looting pharmacies and that's where they get the drugs. One guy in my camp had a lot of something- apparently something for the heart- and had a really bad trip. And he bought that from the local police so you can see it's really engrained in the system. It was common. Almost every Iraqi was selling something. They promised us anything we wanted.

I suppose Iraqis must think selling illegal drugs will make them a lot of money, seeing as so many American films glorify drug use. They must think we're a bunch of drug takers. But actually, things were worse once we got back to the states. Numbers of people testing positive were much higher when we got back. But that's the depression I guess." 

From Viagra to hashish to...a marshal's uniform

Video posted 9 March 08

The deal is done in both English and Arabic. At one point the soldier buying the Viagra says that it's for his create-a-cock. This is a plaster set that allows you to make a mould of your erect penis (a site that sells the mould recommends it as an "excellent gift" for lady friends).

Along with hashish and Viagra, you also see a vendor walk past with some plastic-protected clothing (see below). The piece is actually a replica of an Iraqi army marshal's uniform, which is a good seller in Iraq. They're used for protection, but also as an accessory to steal. You can hear one of the traders say to his colleague: "they're filming, don't stay there".