Great Wall Of Baghdad

April 21, 2007

 Another Digg find.  A three-mile wall in Baghdad: US builds Baghdad wall to keep Sunnis and Shias apart

 The project, which began on April 10, is being worked on almost nightly, with cranes swinging enormous concrete barriers into place.

Although Baghdad is rife with barriers around marketplaces and areas such as the heavily fortified Green Zone, this is the first in the city to be set up on sectarian lines.

The concrete wall, which will be up to 12ft high, “is one of the centrepieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence,” US officials said.

| digg story

Note:  the story says the wall’s being dubbed “great wall of Adamiya” .  Built by night. Guarded by troops.  Right smack in the middle of sectarian warfare in Baghdad.  Think they’ll be done in a month as planned? 

Old tricks are the best tricks – build a wall. 

Update:  I think the wall is a testament to how colossally bad an idea this whole adventure was to begin with.  I know visitors will probably comment that I sound like a defeatist on this or something.  I don’t care.  I thought this Iraq thing was wrong from day one.  Now here we are in the 5th year of this, and we’re resorting to building a friggin wall.  It’s kinda hard to be optimistic.

Update:  I was looking all over the place for a map of the area and where the wall was going to be built, and I found one on Zeyad’s site, Healing Iraq:

click for full size

Zeyad has a lot of good maps up on his site.  As you can see from this one, Adhamiya is on the East bank of the Tigris and directly West of Sadr City. Between them lies an area of mixed Sunni/Shia neighborhoods where much of the sectarian conflict rages.

Update:  Look what showed up in the Think Progress RSS feed:  Iraqi PM Orders Halt to Baghdad Barrier

“I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop,” al-Maliki told reporters during a joint news conference with the Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa in Cairo, Egypt. “There are other methods to protect neighborhoods.”

OK.  Is it safe to say that al-Maliki wasn’t consulted before they broke ground on this?  What the heck is going on over there?

Update:  The answer to the latter question above remains up in the air:  U.S. to ‘respect’ Iraqi wishes for wall

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, indicated that there may have been a miscommunication.

“Discussions on a local level may not have been conveyed to the highest levels of the Iraqi government,” Garver said.

Al-Maliki is seeking to drum up support for his Shiite-led government among mostly Sunni Arab nations and his comments may have been aimed at appeasing them.

“Whether the prime minister saw this plan or not, I don’t know. With him in Cairo, it complicates things,” Garver said

To me, all this represents a snapshot of how messed up it really is over there.  Who is making these decisions anyway?  


  1. There is very little that I can find to agree with in GW Bush’s Iraq policy. However, I tend to think that building this wall may be a step in the right direction. When people are killing each other, it makes sense to separate them.

    This wall is very differnt from the Berlin Wall in which a foreign power (USSR) unnaurally divided a coherent stable entity. In the case of Iraq a foreign power (Britain) cobbled together an unstable entity, consiting of 3 ethnic groups which has most recently resulted in much of the current problem in Iraq.

    A very worthy goal would be to make good fences between good neighbors and separate the warring factions. There are problems to be sure. The geography of Iraq is very conducive to dividing the counrty 3 ways in such a way as to be palateable to Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. It will call for input and support from the world community, including Arab countries. It will call for guarantees to the Turks , backed up by the UN. Potentially , almost everyone wins with this solution. Even GW Bush wins since his toppling of Saddam would have made all of this possible.

  2. I didn’t see anywhere in the article that mentioned how much this little project costs, or who’s been contracted to do it. I think that would be pretty interesting.

    Also, think about the guys working on it. Not exactly your average constuction job.

  3. Nice blog!

  4. hey ChenZhen,
    Thank you for the continuous update on the issue of the ‘great wall’.
    I am wondering though, and regardless of the political context of this wall, how effective it is going to be in curbing the sectarian violence?
    One commander said yesterday that this wall is aimed at buying time for the political process to take its course, and for the various bickering parties to reach an understanding…..
    I can’t see that happening anytime soon…

    Talking of construction; I have some Iraqi friends who have fled the violence and came to work in the UAE; bright engineers who used to work for Bechtel/ Iraq, they told me how tough it is to carry out any construction task, you have to secure the site almost like a fortress. Concrete mixers, gravels trucks and all related machinery has to move on convoys. Set aside the concerns of personnel security.
    As an engineer myself I can tell you, these operational hassles are hell on earth.

  5. Well, it may be a moot point if construction is halted by al Maliki’s say-so, but I honestly don’t know if the wall would have any effect. My gut tells me it would make the situation worse. It’ll probably increase the animosity towards the other side as well as our troops for building the damn thing. The fact that they feel they need to build it in the first place tells me that things are getting worse.

    I understand that many of Iraqs best and brightest have fled the country. It’s too bad, but I don’t blame them. From here in the States, I can only imagine what it must be like in that environment.

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