Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Baghdad security Walls: Iraqi generals insubordinate

This story by Patrice Claude in Le Monde says the Iraqi Army and American military and diplomats have rejected Prime Minister Maliki's call to end construction of walls around Baghdad neighborhoods:

Controversy in Baghdad over American "walls"
LE MONDE | 24.04.07 | 14h45

Can the bombings and the ethno-confessional cleansing that have ravaged Baghdad for four years be solved by building walls? The US military and their Iraqi counterparts, who have already raised hundreds of kilometers of anti-blast barriers in the capital,–around police stations, barracks, markets, schools, hotels, hospitals, embassies, political party offices and TV and radio stations–, not to mention the Green Zone, which is surrounded by dozens of miles of two rows of ramparts topped by barbed wire, watchtowers and machine gun installations, were surprised by the negative reaction of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki .

From Cairo, where he was making his first state visit, the head of government ordered the halt to construction of a 5 km long, 4-meter high and 70 centimeters thick wall around the Adhamiyah quarter in northeast Baghdad, said to “protect” the inhabitants against attack. Because "building of this wall in Baghdad evokes walls built elsewhere, and which we have condemned", said Mr. al-Maliki, "I ordered a halt to construction".

But the Prime Minister, who was making reference to the Israeli wall in occupied Palestine, really made his decision following protests over the last few days by hundreds of Adhamiyah residents who, refusing “to live in a vast prison”, complained that the "security wall" completely surrounds their neighborhood –the last that is entirely Sunni on the east Shi’ite bank of the Tigris, which divides the city in half–, would be “additional discrimination”. Several Sunni and Shi’ite political parties have adopted a similar position and rejected the “enclosure in separate cantons” of the 5 to 6 million inhabitants of the capital.


On Monday, without making a commitment to end construction, the new US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, declared that “Certainly, we’ll respect the government’s wishes.” [Oh, the hypocrisy--Nur] The spokesman for the US Army, Lt.Col. Chris Garver affirmed: “We are going to coordinate with the government and the Iraqi Army to consider how to implements effective and appropriate security measures.Apparently, the Iraqi Army wants to continue building the walls.We shall continue the preliminary work on the security wall for Adhamiyah", said a general. Qassim Al-Moussawi, an spokesman for the Iraq military said, “These walls are not eternal, they can be dismantled later", [word for word what Ariel Sharon declared-Nur] he said, suggesting that the prime minister was doubtlessly “ill informed” on the matter.

The security plan, “Enforce the Law" launched in Baghdad on February 14th and that includes the construction of towering anti-blast walls not only in Adhamiyah but in a dozen neighborhoods deemed “hot” constitutes, according to an official US communiqué, to constitute “one of the fundamental strategies”, has achieved mixed results. Car and truck bombings are on the increase but the figures show that sectarian murders have declined by one-half. Between February 14th and April 14th, 1,586 people were killed in Baghdad, vs. 2,971 over the previous two months. Of the victims, for the most part civilians, 832 were found floating in the river or on the banks of the Tigris. Over the previous two months, 1,754 bodies were discovered.

Several Sunnis, who are the minority in Baghdad, agree that the deployment of US troops in and around their neighborhoods have “reassured” them. But herein is a key to the rejection of the wall. When the Adhamiyah wall is complete, Iraqis forces will control the entries and exits. However, these forces are 95% Shi’ite and they do not have a good reputation among the Sunnis.

Patrice Claude

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