First and foremost, I don’t know why “The Wall” is becoming such an issue now. Work to construct similar walls started weeks ago in the Amiriya and Ghazaliyah districts. The “news” went utterly unnoticed then.
But that’s not what matters. What does matter is effectiveness versus side-effects. Neither should be neglected.
Yesterday leaflets were distributed in the streets of Adhamiya (or Azamiya, English doesn’t have the exact sound anyway). The leaflets — printed and distributed by persons unknown — called on residents to protest the building of the wall. Knowing that the only organized entity capable of such quick response to events in Adhamiya are either the insurgents or al-Qaeda strongly indicates that they were behind the planned protest. More important still is that it indicates they see the wall as a threat to their movement and ability to carry out their actions.
As I suspected, the enemy has engineered this opposition. This is just bizarre. If Israel had forbidden Iraqis from using a simple device that has proven effective in protecting Jews, Arabs and Moslems would justifiably be outraged. But stupidity has such a death grip on the bulk of Iraq's Sunni Arabs in central Iraq that I guess this is not too shocking.
I hope Fadhil is right that Maliki will relent on this issue. I too share the worry that such interference in the operation of the surge will harm it. Which of course is the whole point of the Sunni terrorist outrage. For different reasons, the Shias are happy to be outraged as well. Strategypage writes:
The call for American troops to promptly get out of Iraq raises the question of what exactly would happen if the U.S. forces did leave, say, by the end of the year. If we stay in Iraq, we delay, perhaps even prevent, the expulsion of the Sunni Arab minority (they used to be ten percent of the population, but are now down to about five percent, and are still the source of most of the terrorism.) As the Sunni Arab population gets smaller, the terrorists have fewer places to hide. This can be seen in the plan to wall off some of the remaining Sunni Arab neighborhoods in Baghdad. Analysis of terrorist movements had shown that these neighborhoods were the sources of most of the suicide bombing attacks. By restricting road access to one carefully monitored checkpoint, car bombers would be forced to find another base of operations, and be more likely to get caught. The wall would also keep out Shia death squads, who are expected to return once the security build up in Baghdad is over, later this year. But the way Arab politics works, the wall building got stopped when the Israeli security wall was invoked. Despite the fact that the Israeli security wall stopped terror attacks, that wall, and by association all similar walls, are considered evil. You can't do it, even though the purpose of the wall was explained to Iraqi politicians, who understood and approved it, before construction began. The Sunnis would rather be dead, than not be politically correct, and the Shia agreed. The continuing suicide bomb attacks on Shia Arabs has only increased the belief among the Shia that the Sunni Arabs have to go.
And the Sunni Arabs, most of whom are innocent but scared, are caught in the middle. For a while, anyway. If the Sunni Arabs don't get with the program, there will be no more Sunni Arabs left in central Iraq. They will all be in Anbar or exile--or dead.
I shouldn't be so amazed at how stupid the Sunni Arabs of central Iraq (those in Anbar have made the leap to reality) have been these last four years. It's like the entire community has become a metaphorical suicide bomber doomed to die in order to take out a few more Shias.