Yesterday I posted the Stars and Stripes article on US soldiers building a 3 mile wall in Baghdad that will separate Sunnis and Shiites. Now the LA Times reports on the wall. In the S&S article there was some dispute regarding the wall with the top spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq quoted as stating he was unaware such a wall was being built despite a news release from the military on its construction and information of US soldiers on the ground working on the wall.
So it is interesting to read in the LA Times article the apparent backpedaling from a different military spokesman in light of the facts…
The ambitious project is a sign of how far the U.S. military will
go to end the non-stop bloodshed in Iraq. But U.S. officials said the
barrier is not a central tactic of the ongoing U.S.-Iraqi security
crackdown announced Feb. 13.
“We defer to commanders on the ground, but dividing up the entire
city with barriers is not part of the plan,” U.S. military spokesman
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said Thursday. (my emphasis)
News of the barrier construction was first reported Thursday by the
newspaper Stars and Stripes.
Just don’t use the Surge word. (as in desperate construction of a wall to prop up the failing Surge policy)
And what do the Iraqis think of the wall which “soldiers have dubbed as the “The Great Wall of
Sunnis and Shiites living in the shadow of the barrier are united
in their contempt for the imposing new structure.
“Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?”
said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who identified himself as
Abu Ahmed, 44. “This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve
to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation.”
Some of Ahmed’s customers come from Shiite or mixed neighborhoods
that are now cut off by large barriers along a main highway. Customers
and others seeking to cross into the Sunni district must park their
cars outside Adhamiya, walk through a narrow pedestrian passage in the
walls and catch taxis on the other side.
Several residents interviewed likened the project to the massive
barriers built around some Palestinians zones in Israel.
“Are we in the West Bank?” asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who
said that access to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya has been
Residents complained that Baghdad has already been dissected by
hundreds of barriers that cause daily traffic snarls.
Some predicted the new wall would become a target of militants on
both sides. Last week, construction crews came under small-arms fire,
military officials said.
“I feel this is the beginning of a pattern of what the whole of
Iraq is going to look like, divided by sectarian and racial
criteria,” said Abu Marwan, 50, a Shiite pharmacist.
Marwan lives on a predominantly Shiite side of the wall, but works
in the Sunni district.
Najim Sadoon, 51, worried he will lose customers at his housewares
store. “This closure of the street will have severe economic
hardships,” he said. “Transportation fees will increase. Customers
who used to come here in their cars will now prefer to go other
Majid Fadhil, 43, a Shiite police commissioner in a neighborhood
north of the wall, said flatly, “This fence is not going to work.”
I’m sure Mr. Fadhil is correct but every bad move in Iraq gets at least one Friedman Unit to be proven as such. And on it goes…