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Walls Helped Reduce Baghdad Attacks 80%

From a near despondent Reuters:


An Iraqi soldier patrols by a concrete wall in the Saidiya district of south Baghdad, February 13, 2008.

Attacks in Baghdad fall 80 percent: Iraq military

By Aws Qusay

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Attacks by insurgents and rival sectarian militias have fallen up to 80 percent in Baghdad and concrete blast walls that divide the capital could soon be removed, a senior Iraqi military official said on Saturday.

Lieutenant-General Abboud Qanbar said the success of a year-long clampdown named “Operation Imposing Law” had reined in the savage violence between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam Hussein…

In the six weeks to the end of 2006, an average of 43 bodies were found dumped in the city each day as fierce sectarian fighting threatened to turn into full-scale civil war.

That figure fell to four a day in 2008, in the period up to February 12, said Qanbar, who heads the Baghdad security operation.

“Various enemy activities” had fallen by between 75 and 80 percent since the security plan was implemented, he said…

Central to the success has been the erection of 12-foot (3.5-meter) high concrete walls that snake across the city.

The walls were designed to stop car bombings blamed on al Qaeda that turned markets and open areas into killing fields.

Qanbar said he hoped the walls could be taken down “in the coming months” and predicted the improved situation in Baghdad would translate to greater security elsewhere…

Lest we forget, our watchdog media howled bloody murder when these selfsame concrete barriers were being erected.

Just to cite a few examples from our post about it at the time of their construction, last April.

First from an outraged New York Times:

Photo

A concrete wall separates Baghdad’s al-Adhamiyah district. Residents of the dangerous Baghdad district have accused US forces walling them in behind a five-kilometre (three-mile) security barrier of hardening the city’s already bitter sectarian divisions.

U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart

By EDWARD WONG and DAVID S. CLOUD

BAGHDAD, April 20 — American military commanders in Baghdad are trying a radical new strategy to quell the widening sectarian violence by building a 12-foot-high, three-mile-long wall separating a historic Sunni enclave from Shiite neighborhoods.

Soldiers in the Adhamiya district of northern Baghdad, a Sunni Arab stronghold, began construction of the wall last week and expect to finish it within a month. Iraqi Army soldiers would then control movement through a few checkpoints. The wall has already drawn intense criticism from residents of the neighborhood, who say that it will increase sectarian tensions and that it is part of a plan by the Shiite-led Iraqi government to box in the minority Sunnis.

A doctor in Adhamiya, Abu Hassan, said the wall would transform the residents into caged animals.

“It’s unbelievable that they treat us in such an inhumane manner,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to isolate us from other parts of Baghdad. The hatred will be much greater between the two sects.”

“The Native Americans were treated better than us,” he added.

The American military said in a written statement that “the wall is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence.” …

Abu Hassan, the doctor in Adhamiya, said his neighborhood “is a small area.”

“The Americans and Iraqi government should be able to control it” without building a wall, he said.

Many Sunnis across Baghdad complain that the Shiite-led government has choked off basic services to their neighborhoods, allowing trash to pile up in the streets, banks to shut down and health clinics to languish. So the wall raises fears of further isolation

And from an equally outraged Associated Press:

Sunnis complain about Baghdad barrier

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer

A wall U.S. troops are building around a Sunni enclave in Baghdad came under increasing criticism on Saturday, with residents calling it “collective punishment” and a local leader saying construction began without the neighborhood council’s approval.

The U.S. military says the wall in Baghdad is meant to secure the minority Sunni community of Azamiyah, which “has been trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation.” The area, located on the eastern side of the Tigris River, would be completely gated, with entrances and exits manned by Iraqi soldiers, the U.S. military said earlier this week.

But some residents of the neighborhood, which is surrounded by Shiite areas, complained that they had not been consulted in advance about the barrier.

“This will make the whole district a prison. This is collective punishment on the residents of Azamiyah,” said Ahmed al-Dulaimi, a 41-year-old engineer who lives in the area. “They are going to punish all of us because of a few terrorists here and there.”

“We are in our fourth year of occupation and we are seeing the number of blast walls increasing day after day, suffocating the people more and more,” al-Dulaimi said in an interview

Khalid Ibrahim, 45, said the Americans were working hard to divide Baghdad’s neighborhoods — something he said he wasn’t sure was a good thing.

“This is good if it is temporary, to help the area with security problems. But if this wall stays for the long term, it will be a catastrophe for the residents and will restrict our movements,” said Ibrahim, an Azamiyah resident who works at the Interior Ministry…

Community leaders said Saturday that construction began before they had approved an American proposal for the wall.

“A few days ago, we met with the U.S. army unit in charge of Azamiyah and it asked us, as a local council, to sign a document to build a wall to reduce killing and attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces,” said Dawood al-Azami, the acting head of the Azamiyah council.

“I told the soldiers that I would not sign it unless I could talk to residents first. We told residents at Friday prayers, but our local council hasn’t signed onto the project yet, and construction is already under way.” …

Of course all of this (and more) will be conveniently forgotten now.

Our media is so forgiving — of itself.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, February 16th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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