BUSINESS

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 1:44 PM PST

Sudden Glut of Spider-Holes Floods Iraqi Rental Market

by Brent the Johnson,
NA!P NewsWire

TIKRIT, Iraq -- Within minutes of Saddam Hussein's arrest by American soldiers, Arabic signs reading "Hole Available for Immediate Occupancy" sprouted up throughout Iraq.

"It was very apparent to me that my, ahem... tenant... would not be paying next month's rent," said Makrem Zaahir, a landlord in Tikrit.

"Unfortunately, I don't think I will get as much money from the next renter."

Zaahir is not the only landlord facing a sudden economic hardship -- an estimated 10,000 spider-holes are now vacant.

"This is gonna suck ass," declared Mohammed Akhmed, another landlord. "Potential renters are already demanding luxuries like running water. Swear to Allah, my costs have already gone up."

Still others will miss the "blackmail bonus" they were often able to procure from Hussein.

"Sometimes I'd mention to Saddam that soldiers had been asking if I'd seen a fugitive genocidal killer sneaking around, and I'd say I dunno, maybe I did," Zaahir explained. The next morning, Zaahir would find thousands of American dollars on his porch.

Although Iraqi landlords aren't happy with recent developments, Iraqi renters are ecstatic.

"Just last week, I almost moved into a gutter for 21 dinars a month [or $7 U.S.] because I'm so sick of living with my parents," said 23-year-old Nassur Chapouk.

"Now I'm moving into one of Saddam's better spider-holes for only five dinars a month. It's got a ladder, foam cover to hide the entrance, hard-packed dirt floor, breathing tube -- it's practically a palace!" Chapouk added.

Despite the unfavorable market pressures faced by Iraqi landlords, many remained nonplussed by the short-term ramifications.

"I haven't seen so many vacancies since all the infidels moved from San Francisco after the Internet bubble burst," said Ahmir Sahnak, a leading landlord in Baghdad.

"I read about all the problems those infidel landlords faced, and remember thinking, Thank Allah that can't happen here -- Saddam's always going to need a few thousand spider-holes." Sahnak continued.

"It really makes you think about things. Like renting to terrorists. That's where the cash is now."

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