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Center Column Archives
The US military has ordered that at least 10 areas of Baghdad be entirely sealed off by walls. The western Baghdad district of Ghazaliyah has already been walled off. The 15,000 residents of the area are subjected to curfews and can only enter and leave through one checkpoint, where they are subjected to repeated identity checks and searches.
Since April 10
, US forces have been constructing a five-kilometer wall made of six-ton concrete sections along the highway dividing Adhamiyah from its Shiite neighbors.
On April 23rd
, residents the Sunni enclave demonstrated and shouted slogans against the wall and Prime Minister Al Maliki called for an end to construction, but
the US military has said that it will continue building the walls.
On April 19th
anti-war protesters gathered in front of a Chevron station in San Francisco to protest a proposed Iraqi law that would give Western oil companies more control over Iraqi oil. If the law is adopted as is, control of the Iraqi oil industry will shift from the public sector, where it’s been since the 1970s, into the hands of the multinational oil companies, especially British and American firms.
On April 6th
, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, said that Turkey must not interfere in the Kurds' bid to attach northern Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish semiautonomous zone, otherwise Iraq's Kurds will retaliate by intervening in Turkey's southeast.
On April 12th
, the head of Turkey's army, called for a military operation in northern Iraq to target Kurdish rebels.
On April 13th
, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Iraq's parliament spoke out in support of Barzani, warning Ankara that "the hand that will be extended to interfere in our internal affairs will be cut."
On April 9th
, up to one million Iraqi Shias marched from Kufa to Najaf in a mass demonstration calling for US-led troops to leave Iraq. The protest was called by Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr for the four year anniversary of when US troops entered Baghdad.
Two-fifths of the US "surge" in troop strength has already taken place, but the effects are unclear.
Some Sunni officials claim the Iraqi government "dissolved Al-Mahdi Army before the implementation of the plan and asked the Al-Mahdi Army not to take up arms against US forces." According to one official, the government has absorbed them into the National Guard, the Interior Ministry storm troopers, or law enforcement personnel. Many Shias see themselves as the victims of the US military push.
On March 16th
, thousands protested following evening prayers in the first public expression of hostility toward the US military operations in Sadr City. Demonstrators chanted “No occupation” and “No America” as they marched in opposition to the announcement by American commanders that they were establishing their first permanent base inside Sadr City’s limits, at an Iraqi police station.
On January 30th
, Bush ordered on a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region, raising the US naval presence in the region to its highest level since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A U.S. buildup for war against Iran may currently be underway. President Bush has ordered the US military to "seek out and destroy" Iranian networks in Iraq, and confirmed last week that he has authorized American troops to capture or kill "Iranian agents". The chief accusation being levelled against the Iranian regime is that its agents are supporting and arming Shiite militias inside Iraq to attack US troops—a charge that has yet to be substantiated with concrete evidence. The US, on the other hand, is confirmed to have armed the main Shia militia group, the Badr Brigade, through arms transfers to the Iraqi army.
US policy towards Iran may also be shaping US policy towards the Palestinans, with some seeing the current fighting between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza
as part of the US's larger policy against Iran.
On Wednesday, January 10
George Bush gave a "major policy address" announcing an increase in US troop levels in Iraq.
He said he "took responsibility" for past mistakes but that more troops are needed to pacify Baghdad and other parts of the country. The President also threatened military action against Iran and Syria.
The first wave of additional troops has already begun deploying to the region, and a total of six brigades will be ordered all together, five into the city of Baghdad and one into Anbar Province, center of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation. Bush has also sent an additional aircraft carrier task force into the Persian Gulf.