« | »

US Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Terrorists Apart

From a disapproving New York Times:


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


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.” …

Ceaseless violence is what led American commanders in Adhamiya to build a wall to break contact between Sunnis and Shiites. It is the first time the Americans have tried a project of that scope in Baghdad. The soldiers jokingly call it “The Great Wall of Adhamiya,” according to military officials.

Commanders have sealed off a few other neighborhoods into what they call “gated communities,” but not with a lengthy wall. In the earlier efforts, American and Iraqi soldiers placed concrete barriers blocking off roads leading into the neighborhoods and left open one or more avenues of egress where people and vehicles were searched.

Soldiers did that to a degree in the volatile district of Dora during a security push there last summer. More recently, American and Iraqi Army units have closed off almost all roads into the western Sunni Arab neighborhoods of Amiriya and Daoudi. Residents of Amiriya say violence dropped when the roads were first blocked off late last year, but has gradually increased again.

Adhamiya is different, because it involves the building of a three-mile wall along streets on its eastern flank. It consists of a series of concrete barriers, each weighing 14,000 pounds, that have been transported down to Baghdad in flatbed trucks from Camp Taji, north of the city. Soldiers are using cranes to put the barriers in place.

Once the wall is complete, Iraqi Army soldiers will operate entry and exit checkpoints, Capt. Marc Sanborn, a brigade engineer for the Second Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, said in a news release on the project issued this week by the American military.

The wall “is on a fault line of Sunni and Shia, and the idea is to curb some of the self-sustaining violence by controlling who has access to the neighborhoods,” Captain Sanborn said.

Adhamiya has been rife with violence throughout the war. It is a stalwart Sunni Arab neighborhood, home to the hard-line Abu Hanifa mosque, and the last place where Saddam Hussein made a public appearance before he went into hiding in 2003. Shiite militiamen from Sadr City and other Shiite enclaves to the east often attack its residents, and Sunni insurgent groups battle there among themselves.

“Shiites are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street,” Capt. Scott McLearn, an operations officer in the area, said in a written statement.

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.

A spokesman for the American military, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the military did not have a policy of sealing off neighborhoods…

And what a shock, here are more still complaints from the terrorists locals, via an equally unhappy 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.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have long erected cement barriers around marketplaces and coalition bases and outposts in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities such as Ramadi in an effort to prevent attacks, including suicide car bombs. But the Azamiyah project appears to be the biggest effort ever to use a lengthy wall in Baghdad to break contact, and violence, between Sunnis and Shiites…

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.

The U.S. military says it began building the barrier April 10. AP Television News footage from the site on Saturday showed small concrete blocks, piles of dirt and coils of barbed wire on a main street. Eventually, the military said, the wall will be three miles long and include sections as tall as 12 feet.

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.” …

Heaven forbid that these worthies are prevented from killing each other.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, April 21st, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “US Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Terrorists Apart”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »