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Iraqis Decry US "Separation Wall"
by IOL (reposted)
Saturday Apr 21st, 2007 9:51 AM
BAGHDAD — Sunnis residents of Al-Adhamiyah district in Baghdad were fuming Saturday, April 21, at US construction of a "security wall", saying it would harden the city's already bitter sectarian divisions and isolate Iraqis from one another.
"I'm astonished by the way officials think. Is that reasonable? Protecting Al-Adhamiyah by segregating it from adjacent neighborhoods?" Um Haider, 54, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Branding the barrier a "weird idea," the housewife said the barrier is not a panacea to the city's deadly sectarian violence.

"Erecting concrete walls between neighborhoods is not a solution to the collapse in security and the rampant violence. If so, Baghdadis would find themselves in a maze of high walls overnight," she said.

On April 10, US paratroopers began hauling six-tonne (14,000-pound) sections of concrete wall into place around the Sunni district of Adhamiyah.

The wall is designed to prevent Shiite death squads from launching attacks to drive out the Sunnis, and to prevent Sunni insurgents from using the pocket as a base for raids and bombing runs into Shiite areas.

The area is to become what the US military called a "gated community" protected by barriers and checkpoints manned by Iraqi troops. Eleven days after the project began, the highway dividing Adhamiyah from its Shiite neighbors is lined with tall concrete barriers.

"That community will be completely gated and protected," said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Rogers, commander of the 407th Brigade Support Battalion.

by more
Saturday Apr 21st, 2007 9:51 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States military has begun sealing off Baghdad neighborhoods with concrete walls in a controversial new strategy intended to calm Baghdad's sectarian flashpoints, but residents fear the barriers could deepen divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Seven so-called "gated communities" have been or are being built, according to military officials, and more may be coming under the wide-ranging Baghdad security crackdown launched nine weeks ago.

Officials said the walls would help create islands of security by controlling the flow of people and vehicles in some of the city's most violent neighborhoods, and by keeping armed groups from using the areas as launching pads or targets for attacks.

But residents say the barriers actually increase their feelings of isolation and make them feel like targets.

"Don't they realize that when the Baghdad neighborhoods become either Sunni or Shiite, they will become even more vulnerable?" said Yassir Ismail, a 34-year-old Sunni resident of Adhamiyah, one of the areas where the U.S. is putting up barriers. "Extremists from both sides - or mercenaries - will have no more qualms. . . . They will bomb each other to kingdom come."

by more
Saturday Apr 21st, 2007 9:52 AM
The US military hopes its barrier will prevent deadly attacks. Iraqis worry it will worsen economic, sectarian problems.
By Arthur Bright |

The US military is building a three-mile-long wall around Baghdad's Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah in order to isolated it from the surrounding Shiite areas, and prevent sectarian attacks.

Stars and Stripes, a newspaper published for the US military community serving abroad, reported Thursday that according to a military press release, personnel began construction on the wall on April 10, and will continue work "almost nightly" until it is complete.

"The area the wall will protect is the largest predominately Sunni neighborhood in East Baghdad. Majority-Shiite neighborhoods surround it on three sides. Like other religiously divided regions in the city, the area has been trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," according to the release.

In January, when the new Baghdad security plan and troop "surge" were announced, the "gated community" concept was reported by several news agencies as one tactic to be used.

Stars and Stripes notes, however, that Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, said Wednesday that he was unaware of construction of the wall, and said that such a tactic is not a policy of the Baghdad security plan. "We have no intent to build gated communities in Baghdad," he said. "Our goal is to unify Baghdad, not subdivide it into separate [enclaves]."

The Los Angeles Times indicates that the plan, which it notes is "the first [barrier in Baghdad] to be based in essence on sectarian considerations," is a local decision made by US military operating in the neighborhood.

"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 Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said Thursday.