From Empire Burlesque
In the Ghetto: Bush Begins Forced Ethnic Partition of Baghdad
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 20 April 2007
Taking a cue from Cold War Soviet policy in Berlin – not to mention the enlightened approach of the Israeli government in the West Bank – the Bush Regime has begun walling off a Sunni enclave in Baghdad, driving a stake into the heart of the flickering reconciliation efforts among the Iraqi grassroots and solidifying the nation’s deadly sectarian divisions — thus abetting the aims of the violent extremists operating both within and outside the Bush-backed Iraqi government.
The Sunnis of Adhamiya are being sealed into a ghetto by three miles of concrete, 12 feet high, made up of giant 14,000-pound slabs being installed by monstrous cranes and heavy machinery in the dead of night, the Los Angeles Times reports. When the enclosure is finished, Adhamiya will be an open-air prison, with access into and out of the ghetto controlled by U.S. and, presumably, Iraqi government forces. Already the wall is destroying fragile personal and commercial ties between the area’s Sunni population and the surrounding Shiite areas, say residents. It will also draw even more violence to the area, they add:
“Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?” said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who would identify himself only as Abu Ahmed, 44. “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 passage in the wall and take taxis on the other side.
Several residents interviewed likened the project to the massive barriers built by Israel around some Palestinian zones. “Are we in the West Bank?” asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said that he wouldn’t be able to get to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya.
Residents complained that Baghdad already has 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,” Abu Marwan, 50, a Shiite pharmacist, said.
U.S. officials told the Times that the imprisonment of Adhamiya was a unique expedient, and not part of the “surge” strategy. “Dividing up the entire city with barriers is not part of the plan,” Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said.
Read the rest here.