Upon reaching the two-storey bridge in the centre of Baghdad from the Rusafa direction, you can start seeing the Green Zone and high rise towers.
Moving to the Karkh side, opposite the Green Zone, you will find luxurious residential complexes and on the road to Baghdad International Airport, you will notice more residential towers.
At first, this seems like a welcome solution to the city's ongoing housing crises and can be seen as a positive development toward more infrastructure development.
But upon closer scrutiny, these developments point to the growing footprint of mafias whose involvement in the real estate, construction, banking and financial sectors has become increasingly conspicuous.
At prominent intersections in Baghdad — whether in Jadriya or Mansour —luxury cars such as Chevrolet, Range Rover, Cadillac, Mercedes (G-Class), and BMW, can be readily spotted. Some of these cars cost more than a million dollars.
These cars can be found parked in front of popular Baghdad restaurants, and are emblematic of the opulence flaunted by patrons of these restaurants who pour their resources into material representations of wealth and prestige.
New parasitic class emerges
While wealth and class disparity exist in nearly all societies what's happening in Iraqi society does not represent the conventional divisions between rich, poor and middle class.
In Iraq, mafias are eluding established social class divisions — emerging as a new parasitic class comprising political officials, warlords, armed factions, and individuals affiliated with the economic apparatuses of ruling parties.
Moreover, they include individuals with familial ties to political leadership, alongside businessmen intricately linked to governmental bodies or political hierarchies. As a result, this parasitic stratum presently includes a mixture of mafias, militias, political figures, and their respective entourages.