The eastern Baghdad district of Sadr City has seen siege, curfew and bloody conflict for over two weeks, but IraqSlogger sources report that the restrictions and fighting curiously have not caused prices to spike in the Mahdi Army militia stronghold. In fact, as of last weekend, IraqSlogger's data show that prices have even dropped to the lowest levels in the city for one some of the black-market commodities for which Slogger tracks the prices across Baghdad.
The tables above and below show data from the last three Baghdad price check reports, generated for the weeks ending March 15, March 22, and April 5. Data was delayed over the last few weeks due to the fighting and security measures in the capital, and security conditions including a city-wide curfew prevented IraqSlogger from gathering its price check data for the week ending March 29.
Prices of two stable breads, khubuz and samoun, remained stable across the city for all three samples, as did the prices of Marlboro cigarettes, even in areas such as Sadr City and Kadhimiya where extended curfews were applied. Black-market fuel prices fluctuated, as the data show, but what is perhaps most remarkable is what did not happen: In Sadr City, the epicenter of the unrest in Baghdad that erupted after Iraqi forces moved against what appeared to be Mahdi Army elements in Basra, prices did not spike sharply for the key fuels that Slogger tracks, and residents do not report shortages of key commodities.
In fact, the black-market price of cooking gas, used in food preparation, had dropped in Sadr City to be the lowest per-cylinder rate of the nine districts where Slogger sources gather the weekly data. Even more remarkable, the rest of the capital saw increases in cooking-gas prices during the first week of April, while only Sadr City and Baghdad al-Jadida saw decreases.
A slightly different, but nonetheless remarkable, pattern obtains for the price of gasoline: The capital saw a city-wide rise in black-market auto fuel prices for the week ending March 22, just prior to the outbreak of major hostilities and the imposition of curfews in the following week. For the week ending April 5, prices eased across the capital in all areas except Sadr City and Baghdad al-Jadida, where prices remained stable, in spite of continuing fighting and siege.
When IraqSlogger asked several merchants and consumers in Sadr City for follow-up explanation about why prices did not spike in the face of curfew and siege, many responded that stores were in fact able to resupply their stocks even though vehicle movement was not technically allowed by Iraqi and US authorities. Merchants declined to give specifics of their supply chain operations under curfew, although eyewitnesses have described sections of the perimeter of the district where vehicles have been able to enter and exit during the last two weeks.
In spite of the missing data for the week ending March 29, residents of Sadr City report informally that prices did not spike in Sadr City during the last week of March.
The curfew was lifted on the rest of the capital but remained in effect in Sadr City, Shu'la and Kadhimiya. Similar price stability was also reported in Kadhimiya, which remained under curfew until last Thursday.
Across the city, the price of auto fuel and cooking gas remain well above the officially set rates of 400 ID/liter and 4000 ID/cylinder, respectively. The commodities are generally unavailable at these prices, forcing consumers to turn to the black market for these common energy needs.
Stay tuned for more the next price check report from Baghdad and see all of IraqSlogger's exclusive price check reporting here. For IraqSlogger's exclusive eyewitness reports from inside Sadr City and eastern Baghdad during the last two weeks of hostilities, see here and here.
Auto fuel (ID/liter)
Cooking gas (ID/cylinder)
Khubuz bread (ID/piece)
Samoun bread (ID/piece)