As U.S. forces roll up the Tigris valley, at least one piece of Iraqi territory remains unoccupied: the quarter-acre at 1801 P St. NW, until recently the home of Iraq’s diplomatic mission to Washington. Formal relations between the countries ended in 1991, but thereafter the old embassy—still owned by the Republic of Iraq, according to District property records—functioned as the Iraq Interests Section of the Embassy of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, with an Algerian flag flying over the balcony and Iraqis manning the phones.

The handsome orange-brick Richardsonian Romanesque mansion still sports an Algerian flag, but the front door is padlocked, and the grounds are desolate. Saddam’s four Washington reps vacated the premises March 21, after the State Department had given them 48 hours to leave the country. Unlike much of Baghdad, however, this deserted outpost still has working utilities. The phone lines are still active, though no one picks up. A floodlight shines over the basement door, and the doorbell sounds inside. Water still flows to the outside spigot.

Otherwise, signs of neglect are everywhere. Litter collects in the driveway, under unkempt bushes, and among rampant dandelions. On a recent Monday afternoon, a passer-by stooped and reached under the iron perimeter fence to crush one of the fuzzy dandelions between thumb and forefinger.

As of April 14, an inventory of the grounds revealed the following:

Three editions of the Washington Times, still in bags

* April 9 headline: “Saddam Seen at Site Before Strike”

* April 10 headline: “Baghdad Falls”

* April 11 headline: “U.S., Rebels Take First Key North City”

One edition of the Los Angeles Times, still in bag

* April 14 headline: “POWs Found; Marines Enter Tikrit”

Two copies of the April 9 edition of the Dupont Current, still in bags

* Headline: “ANC agrees to appeal Notre Dame decision”

Flier advertising the Kelly Bell Band at the Santa Fe Cafe, April 11

Old York safe, rusted, with missing lock apparatus and marks at door’s edge indicating forced opening

Scraps of an April 1 edition of the Washington Post

Lincoln Town Car, silver, late model, no tags

Minivan, make unknown, red, no tags

PowerBar wrapper

Empty bag of Andy Capp’s Oven-Baked Hot Fries

Card reading “Brothers protecting Brothers,” with contact information for a local HIV/AIDS-services group

Two packets of soy sauce

Metro rail-to-bus transfer, stamped Dupont Circle, April 11, 5:45 p.m.

Empty bottle of Snow Goose Winter Ale

Bird feather

Receipt from BWI parking garage, dated Feb. 26; $52

Two Starburst fruit chew wrappers, strawberry and blue raspberry

Empty carton of Marlboro Lights cigarettes

Cotton winter cap, blue

Empty Heineken bottle

Strip of perforated holes formerly attached to fan-fold computer paper

Anthony’s Tuxedo business card

Coldwell Banker business card

$30 parking ticket, dated April 10 at 9:49 pm, for illegally parked Honda on Church Street NW

Office swivel chair, gray

Wooden chair, broken legs

“Pick 3” lottery ticket for the April 7 evening drawing; losing numbers 7-8-6

Life Savers wrapper

Continental Airlines luggage tag for resident of Calvert Street NW

Four blunted No. 2 pencils

Four plastic drink lids

Aluminum ladder, approximately 25 feet

Leaf blower

Two garden hoses

“Sorry we missed you!” notice addressed to the “Iraq embassy” from the Postal Service for one Express Mail item and two Certified Mail items, dated March 24

Receipt for Au Bon Pain “Force Mocha Blast”; $3.39

Mrs. Fields cookie wrapper

Unused tissue, white

Kryptonite U-lock for east gate

Kryptonite cable lock for south gate

Empty SunTrust Bank deposit envelope

Hotel card-key sleeve reading, “Open the door to peace and tranquility.” CP

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