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Iraqis oppose US plan to divide Baghdad into ghettos
The US military’s plan to seal off an entire suburb of Baghdad behind a three-metre high concrete wall has produced widespread opposition among Iraqis of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Several thousand residents of Sunni-populated Adhamiyah demonstrated against the wall on Monday behind banners declaring “No Shiite. No Sunni. Islamic Unity” and “No to the sectarian barrier”. Shiite leaders in neighbouring suburbs have also condemned the barrier.
The wall is regarded as a symbol of the hated US occupation, which has brought nothing but daily indignities, hardship and violence to Iraqis. One of the protest banners declared “separation wall is a big prison for Adhamiyah citizens”. Local residents see the structure as a means, not of protecting, but of controlling them. According to a survey conducted by the suburb’s city council on Sunday, 90 percent of respondents were strongly opposed to the barrier.
As part of the Baghdad security plan, US commander General David Petraeus has ordered that at least 10 of the most volatile areas of Baghdad be entirely sealed off by such walls. Five extra US brigades and additional Iraqi Army units are currently deploying to Iraq’s capital to carry out the operation. Once an area is enclosed, Petraeus’s tactics call for American and Iraqi government forces to maintain bases and conduct aggressive patrols aimed at flushing out and killing or capturing insurgents.
The western Baghdad district of Ghazaliyah has already been turned into what US officers have dubbed a “gated community”. “Ghetto,” however, like those established by the Nazis for Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II, would be a far more accurate description. 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. According to the Washington Post, the US military intends to begin using scanners to record the fingerprints and eye patterns of everyone who passes through.