Iraq's Berlin Wall?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Superlative, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    U.S. constructs walls to separate warring Shiite, Sunni districts

    BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. military brigade is constructing a three-mile-long concrete wall to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city.

    U.S. commanders in northern Baghdad say the 12-foot-high barrier will make it more difficult for suicide bombers, death squads and militia fighters from sectarian factions to attack one another and slip back to their home turf. Construction began last week and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

    Although Baghdad is replete with blast walls, checkpoints and other temporary barriers, including a massive wall around the Green Zone, the wall being constructed in Adhamiya would be the first to essentially divide a neighborhood by sect.

    A largely Sunni district, Adhamiya is one of Baghdad's flashpoints, avoided by not only Shiites, but also by Sunni outsiders. The area is almost completely surrounded by Shiite-dominated districts.

    The project is a sign of how far the U.S. military will go to end the nonstop bloodshed in Iraq. But U.S. officials said the barrier is not a central tactic in 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.

    News of the barrier construction was first reported Thursday by the newspaper Stars and Stripes.

    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 Abu Ahmed, 44, a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya. "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 Palestinian zones in Israel.

    "Are we in the West Bank?" asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said access to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya has been cut off.
    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 places."

    Majid Fadhil, 43, a Shiite police commissioner in a neighborhood north of the wall, said flatly, "This fence is not going to work."

    Pentagon officials first broached the idea of creating "gated communities" earlier this year.

    More recently, military officials have emphasized political negotiation as well as heightened troop presence as a way to stem sectarian conflict.
    On a tour of the Middle East this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates repeatedly struck chords of unity and reconciliation. He is expected to meet with sectarian leaders and government officials in Baghdad on Friday.

    The construction in Adhamiya is not the first time U.S. military planners have attempted to isolate hostile regions. In 2005, U.S. troops tried to surround the Sunni-dominated city of Samarra with earthen berms to prevent insurgents from entering and leaving the city.

    A similar strategy was deployed to contain Tall Afar. Experiments with less extensive walls and trenches have been attempted in Baghdad and Kirkuk.

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/nationandworld/ci_5712133
     
  2. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    Sunni leader attacks Baghdad wall


    A senior Sunni politician has condemned a US military project to build a concrete wall around a Sunni enclave in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
    US forces say the wall, which will separate Adhamiya from nearby Shia districts, aims to prevent sectarian violence between the two communities.

    But Adnan al-Dulaimi, who heads the biggest Sunni bloc in parliament, says it will breed yet more strife.

    Some Adhamiya residents have said the wall will make their district a prison.

    "The Americans will provoke more trouble with this," one resident, Arkan Saeed, told the BBC. "They're telling us the wall is to protect us from the Shia militia and they're telling the Shia they're protecting them from us.

    "But it's the Americans who started all the sectarian violence in the first place."

    Adhamiya lies on the mainly Shia Muslim east bank of the Tigris river and violence regularly flares between the enclave and nearby Shia areas.

    Construction of the 5km (three-mile) concrete wall began on 10 April and the US military says it hopes to complete the project by the end of the month.


    US troops, protected by heavily-armed vehicles, have been working at night to build the 3.6m (12 ft) wall.

    When it is finished, people will enter and leave Adhamiya through a small number of checkpoints guarded by US and Iraqi forces.

    The US military says the barrier is the centrepiece of its strategy to end sectarian violence in the area but insists there are no plans to divide up the whole city into gated communities.

    Senior Sunni cleric Adnan al-Dulaimi, who leads the General Council for the People of Iraq which is part of the Iraqi Accord Front, said the wall was a disaster.

    Speaking to an Iraqi news agency, he said it would separate Adhamiya from the rest of Baghdad and help breed further violence.

    'Maze of walls'

    Some residents said the wall would harden the already bitter sectarian divide.


    "Erecting concrete walls between neighbourhoods is not a solution to the collapse in security and the rampant violence," housewife Um Haider told AFP news agency.

    "If so, Baghdadis would find themselves in a maze of high walls overnight."

    Another resident, Mustafa, said: "I resent the barrier. It will make Adhamiya a big prison."

    Other residents also expressed alarm and said they had not been consulted before construction began.

    "This will make the whole district a prison. This is collective punishment on the residents of Adhamiya," Ahmed al-Dulaimi told the Associated Press news agency.

    "We are in our fourth year of occupation and we are seeing the number of blast walls increasing day after day."

    US and Iraqi troops have long built cement barriers around key locations in Baghdad and other cities to prevent attacks, especially suicide car bombings.

    Iraq has been in the grip of raging sectarian violence since the bombing of an important Shia shrine in Samarra in February 2006.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6579335.stm
     
  3. Creek_George
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    Creek_George Member

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    I thought about that wall too...

    Progress I guess....

    Now is a wall a short term strategy..or a long term solution?

    I bet this was news they didn't wana get out...

    The only bright side to this is...300 LESS U.S. Soldiers/maybe National Guard policing the street between this civil unrest between these neighborhoods.

    Building walls....this is getting the government on its feet?

    Gona be the same government...and who ever rules Iraq after we get the hell outa there...is gona be worse than Saddam.

    (Shaking My Head).

    A soulution?..Stay the course?...I aint gona gamble with our young men & womens life....for the sake of saying something that has not,has been..and at this moment is in our interest....

    When we pull outa there..all you supporting this crap..can post what your therory of victory is...

    Creek
     
  4. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    US walls-off more Baghdad districts

    The US military has said it is extending its scheme of erecting concrete barriers around districts in Baghdad in an attempt to quell sectarian violence.

    US troops began placing six-tonne sections of wall around Adhamiyah, a mainly Sunni Arab area surrounded on three sides by Shia communities in east Baghdad, two weeks ago.

    Residents have reacted angrily, saying the move will isolate them and worsen sectarian tensions.

    US officials in Baghdad said on Sunday that four more neighbourhoods will become so-called "gated communities".

    According to reports, the districts of Amiriya, Khadra, and East and West Rashid will be included in the controversial scheme.

    'Controlling access'

    Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl, a US military spokesman, said: "We are not sealing-off neighbourhoods, we are controlling access to them. It's a tactic, it's not a change in strategy to divide Baghdad along sectarian lines."

    The wall around Adhamiyah, up to 12 feet (3.5 metres) high along some sections, is designed to prevent Shia death squads from launching attacks to drive out Sunnis, and to prevent Sunni fighters from using the pocket as a base for raids and bombing runs into Shia areas, the US military says.

    Traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers would be the only way in and out of the walled-in districts once the barriers are completed.

    In a city once known across the region as a beacon for multicultural harmony, there is anger among residents that districts are being separated along sectarian lines.

    'Fuelling sectarianism'

    Adnan Shuhab, a resident of the Iraqi capital, said: "We heard the building of such concrete walls was only between Israel and the Palestinians.

    "Firstly, they want to separate us and put sectarianism in our minds. Secondly, we are Iraqis and we have been unified for thousands of years."

    Baghdad is already largely divided along sectarian lines, with Sunnis mainly living on the west side of the Tigris River and Shias on the east.

    Amer Najim, another Baghdad resident, claimed the intention behind the walls was to isolate Iraqis.

    He said: "By such a decision, they're trying to make sectarian provocation. When they isolate Adhamiyah from Sadr city or Ghazaliyah, they're officially trying to make provocation."

    US and Iraqi forces have long erected concrete barriers around marketplaces, military bases and outposts in Baghdad as well as in Ramadi and other Iraqi cities in an effort to prevent attacks.

    'No approval'

    Defending the scheme, Lieutenant-General Abboud Qanbar, an Iraqi commander, said on Iraqiya state television: "The barriers can be modified or removed at any time ... the purpose of these barriers is to provide security."

    Community leaders said on Saturday that construction in Adhamiyah began before they had approved the American proposal for the wall, known jokingly among US troops as the "Great Wall of Adhamiyah".

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

    "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."




    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9EF8C1EB-99ED-49C0-8A28-D5A2AD8685E8.htm
     
  5. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    I can only assume that Checkpoints and the gates themselves are going to be targets of suicide bombers.
     
  6. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    How about we build a wall between the US and Mexico first?
     
  7. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    Not until Mexicans start exploding.

    In which case, there would be less need for a wall.
     
  8. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    US to 'respect Iraqi view' on wall

    The US ambassador to Iraq has said the American military will "respect the wishes" of the Iraqi government regarding a barrier being built around a Sunni enclave in Baghdad, but stopped short of saying construction would stop.

    Ambassador Ryan Crocker made the comments at a news conference on Monday.
    They came a day after Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said he had ordered the building of the wall in Adhamiyah to stop after the project drew strong criticism from residents and Sunni leaders.

    "Obviously we will respect the wishes of the government and the prime minister".
    "I'm not sure where we are right now concerning our discussions on how to move forward on this particular issue," Crocker said.

    But he defended the principle behind the Adhamiyah wall, saying it was aimed at protecting the community, not segregating it.

    As he spoke, hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets in the area in northern Baghdad to protect the wall's construction, which residents have complained would isolate them from the rest of the city.

    Crocker said the intention of the barrier in Adhamiyah as well as those constructed around markets in the capital is "to try and identify where the fault lines are and where avenues of attack lie and set up the barriers literally to prevent those attacks."

    "It is in no one's intention or thinking that this is going to be a permanent state of affairs."

    Criticism

    Al-Maliki said he has ordered a halt to the US military construction of the wall on Sunday in Cairo, Egypt as he began a regional tour to shore up support from mostly Sunni Arab nations for his Shia-dominated government.

    The US military announced last week that it was building a 5km-long and 3.6 metre tall concrete wall in Adhamiyah, a Sunni stronghold whose residents have often been the victims of retaliatory mortar attacks by Shia fighters following bombings usually blamed on Sunnis.

    US and Iraqi officials defended plans for the barrier as an effort to protect the neighbourhood, but residents and Sunni leaders complained it was a form of discrimination that would isolate the community.

    Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman, declined to comment on whether construction of the wall would stop, saying only that all security measures were constantly under discussion.

    "We will coordinate with the Iraqi government and Iraqi commanders in order to establish effective, appropriate security measures," he said.

    The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party had denounced the wall's construction earlier on Sunday.

    "Isolating parts of Baghdad with barbed wire and concrete barriers will inflict social and economic damage and it will lead to more sectarian tension," it said.

    "This measure will harm the residents and it will have a negative impact on the areas instead of solving the problems."

    Aides to al-Sadr also criticised the barrier as an "unacceptable" move by the United States, saying they feared Shia areas in Baghdad like Sadr City would be next.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/7D276BAB-8B9E-40E7-8984-DCE4669FF4A6.htm
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    http://article.wn.com/view/2007/04/23/Baghdad_wall_construction_stopped_o/
     
  9. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    Shia leader joins anti-wall chorus


    A prominent Shia leader has strongly condemned the construction of a wall around a Sunni neighbourhood and has called for demonstrations against "the evil will" of American "occupiers".

    Moqtada al-Sadr's remarks were the first by the Mahdi Army head since the US military said last week that it was building a wall in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district.

    Al-Sadr said on Wednesday that the protests showed that Iraqis reject "the sectarian, racist and unjust wall that seeks to divide" Sunnis and Shias.

    The 5km-long concrete wall will be built in Adhamiyah, a predominantly Sunni stronghold often hit by mortar and rockets fired by Shia fighters.
    'Honourable voices'

    Al-Sadr said: "I am confident that such honourable voices will bring down the wall.

    "We the people of Iraq will defend Adhamiya and other neighbourhoods that you (Americans) want to segregate from us. We will stand hand in hand with you (Sunnis) to demonstrate and protect our holy land."

    Al-Sadr has been blamed for many of the sectarian killings of Sunni Arabs, and a leading Sunni Muslim group has accused the Shia-led government of turning a blind eye to sectarian death squads allegedly run by the Mahdi Army.

    Nevertheless, many Sunnis also protested against the plan, saying they felt like they were being herded into a prison.

    Protesters in Adhamiyah carried banners on Monday with slogans such as "No to the sectarian wall" and "Adhamiya children want to see Baghdad without walls".

    But the US and Iraqi military say they plan to construct barriers in other neighbourhoods too to protect people from bombings and other sectarian attacks.

    Policemen killed

    Amid the debate over the Adhamiyah wall, violence continued unabated.


    The suicide bomber detonated his hidden belt of explosives at the front gate of the police station in Balad Ruz.

    The explosion also injured at least 16 people, five of whom were policemen and the remaining civillians, police said.

    Since US and Iraqi troops launched the security crackdown in February, Sunni fighters are believed to have moved out of the Iraqi capital to nearby areas like Diyala.

    In other violence on Wednesday, roadside bombs hit US military convoys in two separate areas of Baghdad, wounding an Iraqi translator and setting fire to a Humvee and damaging two other vehicles, the military said.

    Bombs and shootings

    In all, roadside bombs, mortar rounds and drive-by shootings killed 10 Iraqis and wounded 23 in the Baghdad area and the cities of Kirkuk, Mosul and Falluja, police said.

    Separately, the bodies of four Iraqis who had been kidnapped and tortured were found.

    In addition, the US military said an armed man it killed near Baghdad on Friday was Muhammad Abdullah Abbas al-Issawi, an al-Qaeda operative in the province of Anbar.

    Al-Issawi is said to be linked to a recent surge in the use of poisonous chlorine gas in car and truck bombs.



    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/80B98A63-A630-45A9-B6B2-203ADA61AFDB.htm
     
  10. Superlative
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    Superlative Senior Member

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    The US military has said that it will continue building a concrete wall around Adhimiya, a mainly-Sunni district of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

    Colonel Don Farris, of the US army, said that after briefly halting construction of the barrier, the Iraqi government had now ordered the building of the wall to continue.

    "We were asked to stop placing the barriers," Farris said on Thursday.

    "Since then, it has been communicated to me through the chain of command that the prime minister and Iraqi security officials have authorised work to continue."

    Residents had protested against the wall.
    Farris said that construction of the barrier would continue in the near future - although he did not specify an exact date.

    "We will begin placing the barriers shortly, assisting the Iraqi security forces in placing the barrier along the Adhimiya," he said.

    Sunni district affected

    The US army and the Iraqi security services said in mid-April they had begun constructing the wall around Adhimiya to stop Sunni car-bombers leaving the area and to stop Shia death squads from getting in.

    Col Farris said on Thursday that the intention of the wall was still to stop vehicle movement into and out of the area, rather than to prevent the passage of people on foot.

    "It's not a wall - if you will - the intent is that there's no limitation of pedestrian traffic," he said.

    After the Iraqi government began building the wall, heavy criticism forced Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, to order a stop to the construction - an order which he has now apparently reversed.

    The barrier - composed of upright concrete blocks several metres high - is part of a wider effort by the Iraqi government to halt violence in the capital


    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/DA697B00-B9A3-47EE-B736-A6DFBF26863E.htm
     

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