Baghdad gets “Apartheid Wall”

It seems Baghdad’s occupiers are emulating those of Palestine. The city now has a “security fence” cordoning off the Green Zone, mirroring Israel’s “Apartheid Wall.” An excerpt from a story carried by the July 5 New York Times:

Iraqis call it Assur, the Fence. In English everyone calls it the Wall, and in the past two years it has grown and grown until it has become an almost continuous rampart, at least 16km in circumference, around the seat of US power in Baghdad.

The wall is not a small factor in the lives of ordinary Iraqis outside it. Khalid Daoud, an employee at the Culture Ministry, still looks in disbelief at the barrier of 3.6m high five-tonne slabs that cuts through his garden.

This is one snapshot of life for countless Iraqis who live, work, shop and kick soccer balls around in the shadow of the structure. Many despise the wall, a few are strangely drawn to it, but no one can ignore it. Fortifications of one kind or another abound in the city, but there is nothing that compares to the snaking, zigzagging loop that is the wall.

Sometimes likened to the Berlin Wall by those who are not happy about its presence, the structure cleanly divides the relative safety of the Green Zone, which includes Saddam Hussein’s old palace and ministry complex, now used by the US authorities and heavily patrolled by US troops, from the Red Zone — most of the rest of Baghdad — where security ranges from adequate to nonexistent.

But for all the problems faced by residents across the city, the neighborhoods within a few blocks of the wall have become a world apart. Mortar rounds and rockets fired at the Green Zone fall short and land there. Suicide bombers, unable to breach the wall, explode in shops just outside it. And the maze of checkpoints, blocked streets and rumbling US armor may be thicker here than anywhere else in Baghdad.

“We are the new Palestine,” said Saman Abdel Aziz Rahman, owner of the Serawan kebab restaurant, hard upon the northern reaches of the wall.

See our last post on the Iraq quagmire.