Monday, July 23, 2007

The Iraq Wall

It wasn't long ago that opponents to the war in Iraq were pointing to just one more dubious plan of Bush and the Imperialists. In the Guardian from April 21:

The US military is building a three-mile concrete wall in the centre of Baghdad along the most murderous faultline between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The wall, which recognises the reality of the hardening sectarian divide in Baghdad, is a central part of George Bush's final push to pacify the capital. Work began on April 10 under cover of darkness and is due for completion by the end of the month.

The highly symbolic wall has evoked comparisons to the barriers dividing Protestants and Catholics in Belfast and Israelis and Palestinians along the length of the West Bank.

Captain Scott McLearn, who is based at Camp Victory, the US base on the outskirts of Baghdad, said Shias "are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street".

Although Baghdad is full of barriers and checkpoints, particularly round the Green Zone where the US and British are based along with the Iraq government, this is the first time a wall has been built along sectarian lines.

Its construction comes as the security situation appears to be deteriorating despite the recent US troop "surge". This week a bombing at the Sadriya market in the city killed 140 people - the deadliest in the capital since the 2003 invasion.
In Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal today, we see that perhaps the wall, which caused so many heads to explode in anger, was a little less oppressive than presented to us by the Guardian. From "In the Wake of the Surge" we see a bit of a different perspective on the wall.
The area of Baghdad just to the south of us, which the locals think of as downtown Adhamiyah, is surrounded by a wall recently built by the Army. It is not like the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank. Pedestrians can cross it at will. Only the roads are blocked off. Vehicles are routed through two very strict checkpoints. Weapons transporters and car bombers can’t get in or out.

The area inside the wall is mostly Sunni. The areas outside the wall are mostly Shia. Violence has been drastically reduced on both sides because Sunni militias – including Al Qaeda – are kept in, and Shia militias – including Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, are kept out.
Perhaps I am unduly ignorant of all things Iraq, but I do at least attempt to read what is going on in our war there. It wasn't until this evening that I discovered that the Guardian was misrepresenting The Wall and that the impression it left me with was inaccurate. What else have they misrepresented?

h/t to Little Green Footballs.

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