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Mr. Bush--Tear Down This Wall!

It appears that we've handed radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr another golden opportunity to portray himself as the defender of all Iraqis against the occupation of the hated infidels and Jews (as he refers to us) as this story explains:

BAGHDAD: Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr strongly condemned construction of a wall around a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad, calling for demonstrations against the plan as a sign of "the evil will" of American "occupiers."

In the statement, al-Sadr said the protests showed that Iraqis reject "the sectarian, racist and unjust wall that seeks to divide" Sunnis and Shiites. "This wall shows the evil will of the occupier and its sectarian and terrorist projects against our people," al-Sadr said in the statement. "We the people of Iraq will defend Azamiyah and other neighborhoods that you (Americans) want to segregate from us. We will stand hand in hand with you (Sunnis) to demonstrate and protect our holy land."

"I am confident that such honorable voices will bring down the wall," he said.

...and what does the "sovereign" leader of Iraq think about the wall?

"I oppose the building of the wall, and its construction will stop. There are other methods to protect neighbourhoods," al-Maliki told reporters in Egypt.

...and what does our new Ambassador to Iraq have to say about the Prime Minister's wishes:

"Obviously, we will respect the wishes of the government and the prime minister," Crocker said, although he did not say construction would halt.

Obviously (to any idiot who can't see), we will respect the wishes of the Prime Minister...except when we don't respect the wishes of the Prime Minister. A senior officer at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior tried to clarify the situation:

"US troops allege that such walls will help protect civilians but we believe that they will just help fighters to know who to target and where. The construction [of walls] should stop and the Prime Minister's decision should be respected," said Lt. Col. Ala'a Hussein Obadi, senior officer at the Ministry of Interior. "There are many different ways to help improve security and we hope US troops understand the appeal [by al-Maliki]."

If nothing else, this whole issue has demonstrated clearly the "fiction" of Iraqi sovereignty which was hailed as a major "turning point" in the war when it ostensibly took place in mid-2004. If the Iraqis were truly sovereign they wouldn't have to "hope" that we understand their opposition to the Azamiyah Wall. They would just tell us that we have to stop.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This wall has the potential of becoming a major political issue in Iraq, and a stark symbol of the occupation that opponents to our presence will continually rail against and use to mobilize their followers. How long will it be before we hear the cry: "Mr Bush--Tear Down This Wall!"


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Comments (8)

Publicus:

I don't think that walls are ALWAYS a bad thing; sometimes it can reduce violence by separating people who want to kill each other.

However, in this and many other cases, it's a bad idea. It'll be interesting to see whether Malaki succeeds in stopping construction, or whether the Bush administration will just keep on building. If the latter, it suggests that the Iraqi government isn't in charge of much...

Heralder:

First, one has to take into account just how much sway Sadr has with the general populace.

While he says:

"the sectarian, racist and unjust wall that seeks to divide" Sunnis and Shiites."

..he seems to overlook the fact that the Sunnis and Shiites have been busy bombing and beheading one another.

Maliki opines:

"There are other methods to protect neighbourhoods"

...all well and good Mr. Prime Minister. When are you going to get started on showing us what those other methods are? It is your country after all.

--

Larkin: "Obviously (to any idiot who can't see), we will respect the wishes of the Prime Minister...except when we don't respect the wishes of the Prime Minister."

Respecting the wishes of the Prime Minister and *obeying* the wishes of the Prime Minister are two different things. Semantical they may be, but those are the politics of the issue.

Maliki cannot have it both ways, is he wants the country stabilised, he needs to begin taking control of doing it, and *how* to do it. Taking a rule from the American Democratic party playbook of "criticizing your idea is my idea" just doesn't rub on the ground.

Heralder:

Publicus:

"If the latter, it suggests that the Iraqi government isn't in charge of much..."

--They'll be in charge when they choose to be in charge...and at that time we can leave.

Being in charge doesn't involve just talking, it involves doing as well.

Peter F.:

Construction of the wall has ceased as of yesterday.

Nevermind that the wall was an attempt to protect Sunni citizens in Adhamiyah from the near-constant attacks from Shia militia, thugs and suicide bombers that have ravaged and massacred untold Sunni. Nope, that fact is seemingly lost on the western media, Maliki and, oddly, Sunni politicians and protestors.

Some have breathlessly claimed that "A city divided cannot stand" and the Iraqi press bemoans it as a "Berlin Wall" without ever considering the purpose of the wall: protection of people, not separation. And it's not a permanent structure.

Moqtada al Sadr also opposes the wall. Can't imagine why. Makes it a helluva lot harder to commit sectarian genocide. But not now! It's back to bombing Sunni! Ye-haw!

Maliki is against the wall? Hmm, no surprise there. He's also the one who stopped the checkpoints (since put back in place) in and out of Sadr City after the bombing of the Golden Mosque at Samarra that gave Sadr's henchmen and bombers free reign into predominantly Sunni areas like Adhamiyah. And, of course, Maliki lives behind a "wall" too; it's called the Green Zone.

Final thought: Now maybe, just maybe if the Shia would stop killing Sunni (and vice versa) there wouldn't be a need to separate the two tribes with a friggin' wall in the first place. But a US attempt to stem the sectarian violence? Heaven forbid...

Publicus:

Heralder --

If we claim that the new Iraqi government has sovereignty, and build a wall in Bagdad over the governments objections...then we're lying about their sovereignty.

Whether or not Malaki is a good leader is not the point.

That said, I hear construction has been stopped.

Heralder:

Publicus,

"Whether or not Malaki is a good leader is not the point."

--When we have American men and women dying for Maliki's country every single day it *is* so very much the point.

Respecting the sovereignity of the country while doing all we can do to solve the problems there can be a tricky balance.

"Respecting the sovereignity of the country while doing all we can do to solve the problems there can be a tricky balance."

True - but let's not confuse what the administration has done in Baghdad as anything close to "respecting the sovereignty" of Iraq. The fact that Maliki had to go public with his objections in order to get the wall construction to stop is painful evidence that the fatheads in Washington are steamrolling over Maliki.

Heralder:

Lee:

The fact that Maliki had to go public with his objections in order to get the wall construction to stop is painful evidence that the fatheads in Washington are steamrolling over Maliki.

If steamrolling Maliki saves Iraqis and Americans I'm all for it. I know that's a slippery slope, but something needs to be done, and he's the Prime Minister.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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