More and more walls are rising in Baghdad neighborhoods, giving areas a calmer, safer feel. But the walls also create a prison-like atmosphere and many residents are conflicted about the tradeoff.
"Abu Nawas – once witness to frequent suicide car bombs and mortar attacks – now hums with activity of a different sort. The newly fortified area is patrolled by Humvees and guarded by US-funded private security companies that search every entering vehicle and scrupulously monitor shopkeepers and residents – and occasional intrepid visitors."
"Creating civilian havens is a cornerstone of the US counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. While many here are grateful for the newfound calm, they say the price is an increasingly segregated city that is starting to feel like a collective cage. In many cases, the US military is keeping tabs on male residents by collecting fingerprints and retinal scans."
"'One road in and one road out, that's it,' says Ghazaliya resident Muhammad Rajab. 'Iraq is a prison, and now I live in my own little prison,' he adds wryly."
"In Baghdad, the extent of the transformation is clear from driving along main arteries. Western areas – Adel, Ameriyah, Ghazaliya, and Jamiaa, until recently stomping grounds for Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda-linked fighters, are ringed with concrete walls at least 12-feet high."