21 April 2007

Baghdad's Berlin Wall

Night-vision view of the site where the wall is being built, courtesy of the US military [Credit: BBC]First came the Berlin Wall - a symbol of the Cold War, of separation and tyranny.

Next we had the construction of the 370-mile-long barrier dividing the city of Jerusalem and the Palestinian-populated West Bank region. The American reaction to this was a threat to withhold part of a $9 billion Israeli aid package.

Now, despite their criticism of Israel, American military commanders in Baghdad are building a 12-foot-high, three-mile-long wall separating a historic Sunni enclave from Shi'ite neighbourhoods in an attempt to quell the widening sectarian violence.

If Israel's checkpoints were wrong both for isolating and entrapping Palestinians, how is Baghdad's new "Berlin Wall" any different?  Moreover, how is it going to prevent any violence?  Surely it is just going to increase sectarian tensions and make the US and Iraqi checkpoint guards another symbol of occupation to be targeted by insurgents?