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But somehow I could forgive that. facet to this war and they can’t report the whole story each and every time. Seven Marathons in Seven Days, Crossing Each Finish Line for Fellow Marines, Combat Amputees, and Their Therapists, Find Roads to Happiness, Focusing on Leadership as Marine Corps Mandate to Integrate Women in Combat Units Nears, Letters From the Pacific, From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, How We Judge Those Who Served, or Didn’t, in Vietnam. “Go ask the army,” the men in the office told her. The army of the Mehdi—the long prophesied imam and redeemer who will cleanse the earth in the last days. But we are not the followers of the Iranian decision,” he said. Whether you like Bush and his policies, feel joy that a pluralistic democratic nation might emerge from this after all. This blog post is the first in a series examining the people and places in Sadr City, the poor Baghdad neighborhood that is the center of the support for the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. You have read 1 of 10 free articles in the past 30 days. Just like the Berlin… And you know this because? I think that’s the big story. There are no dead Iranians to be found in Sadr City either. Sadr City, where the militia was born, is still a Mehdi stronghold. Of course, their goal is to curb our freedom, to control our movement. Within those Soldiers who saw action in Falluja against Sunni insurgents were not embarrassed to admit that the Shiite guerillas worried them much more. It also let him reflect on why running is more than a hobby for him. The constant attacks from side streets made the job of looking for I.E.D.s even more difficult. It was midday and the café was largely empty, save for a few young men smoking water pipes and watching a European soccer match on the satellite TV. His army. I nodded. With the intervention of Shiite religious authorities, and more recently with the Iranians playing a possible role, the fighting has ended each time in a political resolution—allowing the militia to claim victory and each time emerge more visibly powerful. is the abbreviation for rocket propelled Inside the mosque’s courtyard, though, I saw his children playing and a sprinkler watering the lawn. A sergeant's warning that we should not walk past the last 5-foot section of the 12-foot T-wall that is being put in place in Sadr City. “Someone else must fight the terrorists.”. “Those who support Tayyera Sadri are young and they support using weapons,” Jenan al-Obaidi, a member of parliament with the SIIC, told me. Earlier this year, rockets were be fired from Sadr City into the Green Zone on a regular basis. Without oil revenue, the Middle East is a political and cultural A T-barrier wall provides security for residents of the Sadr City District of Baghdad. In order to send a message, the Iraqi military had placed snipers on surrounding rooftops. I was reminded of an interview I had conducted with Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon in 2006. The general feeling that all Sunnis were being targeted led some neighborhoods to form larger, more open militias of their own for protection. The Jeish al-Imam. Without question, the Jeish al-Mehdi is weaker now than at any moment since its rise, shortly after the invasion. Of course, the left is looking forward to Mr. Obama, their knight in shinning armor, to come in and rescue us from Iraq and every other threat to our way of life. Explore Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq as it appears on Google Maps as well as pictures, stories and other notable nearby locations on VirtualGlobetrotting.com. Insurgents, their freedom of movement rapidly disappearing, were drawn into battle on disadvantageous terms. Simply because Barack and the NYT’s says they will. Soldier of 1-6 battalion, 2nd brigade, 1st Army Division, patrols near the wall in the Shiite enclave of Sadr city, Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, June 9, 2008. By late afternoon, hundreds, if not thousands, of young men swarmed the Sadr office in Sadr City—and Sadr offices all over the country—to become members of the Jeish al-Mehdi. Wall builders attacked. Two days later the mosque was shot up.”. We have made the decision to freeze Jeish al-Mehdi, but still, as long as there are occupying troops, we have to keep some people working for opposition.” He was not angry, just matter-of-fact. To diminish our humanity in the neighborhood and instill fear in us again. He cursed the soldier who shot his son, and he invoked his own father, who had fought in the revolution against the British. So how exactly does the moderator judge abusiveness, if posts like 2, 3 and especially 4 here made the cut? “During the days of Saddam there was oppression, suffering, and misery—and they still exist,” he said, sitting in an open air café in the middle of one of the district’s markets. when we entered iraq and got rid of sadam we brought a whole chain of consaquenses. The US response to the uprisings in the western part of the country was to wall off neighborhoods in various cities, most notably Falluja. But, in this case, at which side are democracy and dictatorship? That walls will be seen, time after time, in History Channel in their building process, rather than trohw away? We have clearly wasted our blood and money trying to civilize those people (or “make them safe for democracy” as we prefer to say in the post colonial era). This was one of the most intense engagements in the entire war. “Look around you,” one man told me, standing in the street of a village that had been destroyed by Israeli tanks and shellfire. Col. Hort said "the building of the [so-called] T-wall became a magnet for every bad guy in Sadr City." He refuses to be photographed or appear on camera, fearing reprisals from the Iraqi government and military. Could you be overstating your point just a bit? My guess is that you “From the beginning when the city was founded, it was called Revolution City. Williams said. The construction of a massive concrete wall is intended to turn the southern quarter of Sadr City near the Green Zone into a protected enclave. “The US sent more troops to Iraq,” he said. Estimates indicate it will take two weeks to complete this segment. On the outside wall of the base, someone had plastered a poster of Sadr. I thought there was no deal with “terrorists”. Why we wanted to be like Japan in WW2 is beyond me. Finally Bill if you think you can do a better job why don’t you stop typing and wasting time blogging and instead do something about it and join the Army or Marines or the Air Force for that matter Baghdad fighting focuses on Sadr City Wall. Since you’re talking about the bad things that happened last May, why don’t you include the horrible attacks on family homes by airborne military? The party’s representatives call the base a violation of the cease-fire agreement. Constructed of “Jersey barriers” or “T-barriers,” interlocking pieces that are lifted into position with a crane and stand anywhere from four to eighteen feet high, they first appeared like oversized concrete Legos around US installations in 2003 to stop car bombers. (Studio: Brian Williams) Map shown of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq. That changed in May when the Iraqi government, backed by 10,000 Iraqi Army Have their empty slogans expired? “At soon as we came up at least five I.E.D.s went off in a span of seven minutes,” said First Lt. Emily Shockley, 25, with the 62nd Ordnance Company. But during multiple visits last July, I encountered only one other visitor—a woman from the neighborhood who came in complaining that her new neighbors were prostitutes. That Ghaith is a member of the Sadr Movement is enough for the US military to hold him indefinitely. So much for the “surge is working” Simply put, there has never been enough soldiers in Iraq to do the job properly. The troops looked through the pictures I’d taken and deleted the ones they didn’t like. forces go through pains to avoid civilian casualties to the point that many times lives of soldiers and Marines are put at risk because we are sensitive to killing civilians. The demonstrators were shouting louder, and Ghaith had begun to call for calm over the loudspeaker. During this time I was able to piece together the story of his rise within the Sadrieen. One was looking down the barrel of a shotgun, using it to scan the crowd, moving it back and forth. Dear Bill: My guess is that your assumptions as to how the military operates in Iraq and under what conditions and rules of engagement is based on your intellectual capacity to read other persons view on the He invoked his own father, who had fought against the British. In most of Baghdad’s other neighborhoods, it is clear that the militia is not missed, and that if walling in Sadr City is what had to be done, then so be it. How did you become so educated on the subject Bill? Normally I complained when a translator told me it was time to go, but I felt the urgency too. Read more…, A physical therapist describes the powerful bonds she formed with the wounded veterans and her fellow physical and occupational therapists at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. ), Staff Sgt. A U.S. The apartment was on Palestine Street, a major thoroughfare bordered by nice, planned neighborhoods south of Sadr City. use them as shields, intimidate, torture, kidnap, rape, steal from them. walls” would be needed to segregate the Shiite residents of Sadr City from each other and from other adjacent areas of Bagdad? right now are doing something for America. David Enders traveled to Iraq with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Read more…, A Vietnam-era veteran says presidential candidates should not be judged harshly just because they did not serve during that war. “Sadr is the only one who cares about us,” people told me. I was happy to do what I could, especially for bored troops pulling a cordon, reduced to smiling weakly at the Iraqis passing by or communicating in single words (“Stop,” “Yes,” “No”). Let Iraq burn. i believe that really was theproblem was we never realized that in a sick fact that iraq worked better with sadam. mission.”, “A sure fire way to get shot is to get out of your vehicle,” Staff Sgt. Arabs will never accept democracy; their societies are too violent, too tribal and too culturally backwards to build the necessary institutions (see Oil Stealer’s comment #4). On this particular day, before Friday prayers, worshipers used chains and trucks to pull down two of the twelve-foot-tall T-barriers, which broke apart as they hit the ground, exposing rebar skeletons. area in Iraq. North of the Sadr City wall, the area is patrolled by Iraqi soldiers from the 11th Division, the only division said to be operating “autonomously”—that is, without direct US support. the NYT does an article on a US war crime or civilian casualty you get people complaining how the NYT just loves reporting their anti-war agenda. • Sudarsan Raghavan – Under siege in Baghdad's Mahdi army stronghold – The Guardian After the February 2006 bombing of the revered Askariya Shrine in Samarra, a Shiite pilgrimage site in a restive city with a majority Sunni population an hour north of Baghdad, the Mehdi Army and other Shiite militias attacked more than a hundred Sunni mosques in Baghdad, killing hundreds and beginning a process that drove thousands from their homes. “They said, ‘Hey, we don’t want any problems. They banned the presence of al-Sharqiya, a Baghdad-based satellite station deemed sympathetic to Saddam’s government and hostile to the current administration, and discouraged other journalists from attending. “We’re civilians now.”. on the faultlines, and civilians caught in the middle. The walls were a de facto US military endorsement of Baghdad’s new order; Sadr City was the last neighborhood to succumb. Their knowledge of Iraqi society was minimal, and they often relied on my limited Arabic to communicate. members of Congress whether Democratic or Republican. I have no doubt that many of the men I have met inside the movement, especially during that first uprising, were certain paradise awaited them. By the time I met Ghaith, I already sensed the nature of Shiite resistance shifting. What is to be gained by the Times gathering information from Sadr City residents when we all know that not even the expressed views of Prime I remember watching Iraqis removing the bricks of Saddam’s feared Abu Ghraib prison to construct housing, the potent symbolism of that gesture. from ours that it is hard to work with them. In America we call that hearsay, meaning that who ever is making the statement is merely repeating what he heard. American and Iraqi forces have managed to avert a major sectarian civil war and a genocidal conflict that would have made Democratic Kampuchea Supporters of Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric, denounced the wall as a nefarious effort to divide the city. Naziha al-Dulaimiwas instrumental in turning the vast slums of eastern Baghdad into a massive public works and housing project that came to be known as Revolution … there. Moktada Above the wall, the Iraqi Army maintains order for more than two million residents, many of them poor. On the Iraqi officer’s desk sat a miniature T-wall, a model of the blast barriers that have gone up all over the city. Then an explosives ordnance disposal team The process was carried out wordlessly. Give me a break! The poor are still very poor—and even worse than before—but now they are below the poverty line.”. Representatives from the Sadr office had to link arms to hold back young men at prayers from confronting the army. “Although it’s hard to take in and comprehend that JAM is also a political party—it’s one of the most popular in Iraq.”. “We were in need of a popular style of opposition. Since he was arrested, I have been to Ghaith’s house twice. And this a fact because you posted it on the internet, which is of course free of small thinking and bias? As the violence grew, distinctions Iraqis had once ignored became sharper. “The government does nothing.”. “Their capabilities are severely, severely degraded,” Captain Andrew Slack of the First Armored Division told me. I asked about the support the group received from Iran and accusations by its detractors that it would wither without it. The class arguments and anticolonial sentiments initially advanced by many of the followers of Sadr, the Sadrieen, were acceptable, even supportable. This blog post is the first in a series examining the people and places in Sadr City, the poor Baghdad neighborhood that is the center of the support for the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. He handed the IDs back along with my camera without a word. “They are afraid that during the coming elections, they will not have the same results as in the last elections. Ghaith, I discovered, had taken over a mosque less than a block from the apartment he had rented on Palestine Street. Baghdad began as a walled city—and perhaps it will always be. He is the leader of the Sadrist Movement and the leader of the Peace Companies, a Shia militia that is a reformation of the previous militia he led during the American military presence in Iraq, the Mahdi Army. The neighborhood is already suffocating. Soldier article and blog. She pleaded with the men in the office to do something about it. Lieutenant Stewart said that Iraqi civilians cooperated at first with the mission, but paid a price for talking to the American soldiers. All this outrage? It was June 2003, and Moqtada al-Sadr, one of the most influential leaders of the Shia branch of Islam in Iraq, had just formally called for armed resistance against the US military. The elections are about to take place, and this is all to prevent the Sadrieen from participating. due to bias by the liberal press. It’s like Putin did to Chechnya or what is done to Palestinians. A few months after the demonstration, Ghaith moved to an apartment outside Sadr City, where he and some other clerics had taken up residence. “If an insurgent is thought to be in a house, air crews who might not arrive until many hours later when conditions are completely different”. have and luckely for that iraqi civilian that was carrying a shovel (that from where I was appeared to be an RPG ) I waited that extra second. They were easy targets, but undaunted. This was their home-base,” Slack explained. But I called one of my friends in the Ministry of Electricity, and it was fixed the same day.”. In 2007 18,938 Iraqi’s died including both security forces and civilians. from “free people? Hmmm. Our Government has inflicted a needless and horrible carnage upon the residents Again less than half the rate. Instead of the hit-and-run tactics of the Sunni resistance fighters, who rarely gave the military a chance to shoot at them, the Mehdi adopted a strategy of full frontal attacks. And this is the norm? Arab levies were also employed by the British, a tactic the US finally arrived at in 2006 and 2007 as it looked for ways to use sectarian fighting to its advantage. This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. They aim to keep us haunted with fear—to dominate us and force us into submission. Their religious conservatism and belief in a state led by clerics were less appealing. “On May 12, my birthday, we had to clear four of the barriers,” he said. talk to us, because they blew up the building.”, Concrete blast walls, barbed wire, what a mess we’ve made over there with our ‘nation building’…. When I asked if all this was really attributable to the containment wall, one of my friends chimed in, smiling now too, “It is like zoo.”. Very few members of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the wealthy ruling Shiite party in the government that allied itself with the Americans, complained about the sectarian cleansing in Baghdad. “We have the right to cooperate with anyone who can help us here and there, including the Iranians. If the US occupation of Iraq had not lasted more than five years (with no early end in sight), does anyone seriously contend that “blast But they saw what happened when they tried to fight.” Al-Obaidi and other SIIC members denied the government was using the military for political purposes. Ghaith couldn’t keep from crowing about the work he and his men were doing for the neighborhood. Today’s post focuses on … Referring to the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Sunni party with the most seats in the Iraqi government, Abu Ali al-Tamimi, the leader of the Mehdi for Baghdad at the time, said, “If they are good people, why don’t they condemn the killing of Shiites?”. in the building that I was standing in,” Lieutenant Stewart said. Later, when I arrived at the firebase, some of the men in the Iraqi military unit recognized me from Friday prayers and chided me for going, emphasizing the danger. Sayyed Moqtada has declared a cease-fire!” The troops got back in their Humvees and pulled away, the gunners on the top still swiveling their sights across the crowd. Charlie company build Sadr City wall - In what can only be described as a giant monument to the US military's failure to quell the violence in Iraq and unite the country, they have given up and are attempting to wall off the entire town of Sadr City, home to the greatest … Young and charismatic, Ghaith was the son of two doctors, but he had taken a different path, participating in the resistance against Saddam Hussein and going to jail twice in the 1990s for his efforts. For a brief period after the invasion, it looked like the walls were coming down. You can imagine how stressful it is to have one go off and then go look for another one.”. And while the Askariya bombing was provocation, plans for many of the attacks against the mosques had been made far in advance. Though sometimes rival factions inside the militia clashed violently, it was clear that anyone who opposed the Sadrieen would bear the brunt of the violence. The army came in … If you ask me if the Mehdi army will come back—I don’t think so.”. BAGHDAD — Sadr City, long one of the most dangerous parts of the Iraqi capital, is calmer now than it has been in years. Leave it to the NY Times to lead an anti-American and anti-U.S. troops and the U.S. military, struck a deal with Mr. Sadr for his militia to leave the neighborhood safely rather than face heavy military raids. The war was a huge mistake. Eight months later, the Jeish al-Mehdi engaged US troops in Baghdad and Najaf, bloody battles that cost the US few troops but proved that the Mehdi were far more interested in fighting than in strategy. “Your business dies because of these stones,” one shop owner told me. “A lot of gangsters and militias controlled the neighborhood and the poor people,” their commander Colonel Nadum Khadim told me. “People know that it’s not tolerated by coalition forces or the Iraqi Army to display propaganda that shows guys with weapons … You still will see propaganda like what you see on the wall right there,” he said. The smell of bodies under the rubble was at times overpowering. Sectarian killings in Bagdad are almost down to zero. developing alternative fuels so we can ignore this part of the world and let them people go back to killing each other instead of our soldiers. In the meantime, he secured what ground he could by ringing garrisons with fortified blockhouses and wire and relying on air power and tactics like cutting off the water supply to the rebellious city of Karbala—a practice pioneered during World War I in Najaf. as for the concentration camp idea i say “how would u like to be in one”? However, insurgents still enjoyed considerable freedom of movement making allied forces vulnerable to attack from unsecured portions of Sadr City. Jaffer Shaab, a Sadr City resident, paints the background of a mural on a wall around Joint Security Station Thawra 2 near Circle 55 in the Sadr City district of northern Baghdad Aug 2. The U.S. needed about 750,000 soldiers for about 10 years to do the job required…, “You smug-faced cowards with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you’ll never know The Hell where youth and laughter go”, -From “Suicide in the Trenches” by Sigfried Sassoon. “They banned prayers in Amara and Diwaniya and now they want to ban them here?” another preacher asked, speaking from a podium in front of a ten-foot-tall picture of Sadr’s father. I told her there was nothing I could do. As the guerilla war against the US and its allies became more violent, Sunni rebels attempted to create a ring of territory around Baghdad from which to operate, driving out Shiites and claiming they were collaborators with the US military. Insurgents kill civilians, “We are the underclass here in the east. The Sadrist parliamentary bloc has staged a number of walkouts, primarily over the Iraqi government’s refusal to demand a timetable for a complete US withdrawal. Sadr City to focus on the later years of strife and violence in Sadr City. attached to the 3rd Combat Brigade would send a robot forward to disarm the bombs, known as improvised explosive devices. not be sitting here in the comfort of my desk in an airconditioned room while another American right now is making that same call thousands of miles away from his family while you critizise how he performs his For me, the defining moment of that summer came when I happened to meet a US tank platoon that had been responsible for the destruction of the Sadr office in Sadr City in May 2004. The troops motioned for me to follow them behind the Humvee, and when I did, the shouting grew. To be sure, American soldiers and Iraqi judges are still being killed here, but not at They have started to change their thinking, and we have to change our thinking. At War is a reported blog from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other conflicts in the post-9/11 era. Other soldiers, now out of the other two Humvees, trained their guns on the unarmed crowd. In 2008, the US built a wall around Sadr City as it sought to defeat the militia led by Moqtada Al Sadr, whose parliamentary bloc now dominates Iraqi politics. What is decidedly unpopular are Baghdad’s walls. But the press hardly reports our WINNING IN IRAQ…. Ghaith’s mother cried and implored me to help. Sadr's fighters retaliated for the Basra operation by increasing their rocket attacks on the Green Zone from Sadr City. the rate of deadly attacks in 2006 and 2007. “And they told us exactly where they were and there was E.F.P.s there.”. The previous intifadas had been popular uprisings, difficult to control. A tacit, unironic endorsement of the larger strategy: segregation for peace. Whether rightful or wrongful, those boys and girls that are over there although it involved horrific acts of terrorisom sadams rule in a way kept the shiiads and the sunnis in the southern half of Sadr City. 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