100 meters there was 11 total I.E.D.s. The Mehdi took full of control of Sadr City in 2005 and began moving into other neighborhoods in preparation for a wider offensive. Sadr’s decree went out at noon prayers, still a veiled threat at the time, but the message was clear. Copyright ©2021 The Virginia Quarterly Review. We bring you Sadr City news coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Other soldiers, now out of the other two Humvees, trained their guns on the unarmed crowd. in the building that I was standing in,” Lieutenant Stewart said. Jonathan Williams is with the 62nd Ordnance Company. To me, he displayed an understanding of the dualities, complexities, and contradictions of the military’s years of occupation—a subject many officers and soldiers refuse to discuss. Within those The troops motioned for me to follow them behind the Humvee, and when I did, the shouting grew. The walls were a de facto US military endorsement of Baghdad’s new order; Sadr City was the last neighborhood to succumb. The elections are about to take place, and this is all to prevent the Sadrieen from participating. Al-Obaidi accused the SIIC of using the cover of law to disenfranchise the Sadrieen ahead of January’s provincial elections. and any other country our “national interests” require to be dominated by military force. Sadr City, where the militia was born, is still a Mehdi stronghold. 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). “And shortly after they gave us that information there was an R.P.G. The trinket was boldly inscribed with the patches of the US unit that presented it to the commander, as well as the words “OIF 2008.” Operation Iraqi Freedom. You have read 1 of 10 free articles in the past 30 days. Since he was arrested, I have been to Ghaith’s house twice. After helping the Iraqi soldiers connect a digital projector to a laptop (both donated by the Americans), I sat through a PowerPoint briefing in preparation for a cordon-and-search operation that would begin before daylight. Obviously neither presidential candidate is proposing any such thing, since both men continue to support the basic doctrine of US military domination of the world favored by the current Administration and most That walls will be seen, time after time, in History Channel in their building process, rather than trohw away? i believe that really was theproblem was we never realized that in a sick fact that iraq worked better with sadam. He promised it would be like 1920—and, in many ways, he was right. In order to send a message, the Iraqi military had placed snipers on surrounding rooftops. They walked directly toward me and took the camera out of my hands. Soldier article and blog. Maybe then we Americans would learn what really goes on when our troops invade another nation so that big campaign contributors can get to resources they want. By 2007, Shiite militias had taken over a number of neighborhoods in Baghdad, cleansing Sunnis across the capital. 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. The battalion used Buffalo MRAPs and other heavily armored vehicles to clear the streets of roadside bombs. “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. A T-barrier wall provides security for residents of the Sadr City District of Baghdad. Occupiers were not. 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. Abu Zeinab is a journalist who lives and works in Sadr City. Given the opportunity, Ghaith had taken matters into his own hands. And this a fact because you posted it on the internet, which is of course free of small thinking and bias? They have started to think of longtime bases in Iraq, big bases in Iraq, and to pull out of Iraqi cities. The Jeish al-Imam. “The law was imposed. mission.”, “A sure fire way to get shot is to get out of your vehicle,” Staff Sgt. “You keep getting the message to continue the ground in Iraq who may have heard it from another that read it somewhere. “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.”. But we are not the followers of the Iranian decision,” he said. “Our agenda is working against the occupation.” He added that SIIC has close ties to Iran as well, having been founded in Tehran by exiled Iraqis, and its militia, the Badr Brigades, was trained by the Iranians for use against Saddam in the war between the two countries in the 1980s. job. 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. 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. The troops looked through the pictures I’d taken and deleted the ones they didn’t like. He refuses to be photographed or appear on camera, fearing reprisals from the Iraqi government and military. “Someone else must fight the terrorists.”. Well, you knew it was coming, and it sure didn’t take long. the rate of deadly attacks in 2006 and 2007. “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building.”, George W. Bush, presidential candidate Oct. 11, 2000. (Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images for The New York Times), Iraqi pedestrians walked through an opening in the concrete barrier along Al Quds and Fallah Streets in Sadr City on May 25, 2008. Without question, the Jeish al-Mehdi is weaker now than at any moment since its rise, shortly after the invasion. Thats down from a surge peak of 126 in May of 2007 and a surge peak of approx 3000 per month in the spring of 2007. After a deal was brokered, the militia melted away in Najaf but remained in control of Sadr City. due to bias by the liberal press. The poor are still very poor—and even worse than before—but now they are below the poverty line.”. 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. “We had eight detonated and we found three. Many of the group’s officials were moving undercover now. A concrete blast wall was built in April on Al Quds Street in the southern half of the neighborhood. “Not to mention that there was R.P.G.s, small arms fire and a sniper. People who professed not to care about sectarian identity found themselves forced to choose sides. Through 21 days of July – 12 americans and 275 Iraqi’s have been killed. 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. “And they told us exactly where they were and there was E.F.P.s there.”. We need people like you Bill, people that enjoy the benefits and joy of calling themselves Americans but never doing anything for America. ), Staff Sgt. 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. 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. forces now patrol the neighborhood, its mosques and its markets. I wish people would just realize that there is more than one 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. That Ghaith is a member of the Sadr Movement is enough for the US military to hold him indefinitely. But in Iraq, where the confessional balance between approximately 20 million Arabs runs at a lopsided 60 percent Shiite, the retaliation, as displaced Shiites increasingly realized neither the government nor the US military was willing or able to protect them, was bound to be devastating. Sadr City (Google Maps). How did you become so educated on the subject Bill? This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. Earlier this year, rockets were be fired from Sadr City into the Green Zone on a regular basis. 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. Then an explosives ordnance disposal team and harmony one with the universe. “It was a totally different ballgame in Sadr City. numerous reasons including backing Israel, you can just leave the country or leave us alone. 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. I do not doubt that some of their refusals are sincere, but it suggests that the military has a fragmentary and disconnected view of a fight that is seen in very different terms by Iraqis. Below the wall, American Cooperation between Sunni guerillas and the Jeish Al-Mehdi that had existed during 2004 during dual uprisings against the US military fully disintegrated. SIIC is widely accused of fraud in the 2005 parliamentary elections, though the Sadrieen still won the most seats in the largely impotent Iraqi parliament and control of some governorates that would later be wrested away by force. The fortifications grew larger and more complex as the city became more dangerous. Inside Sadr City: The Wall. A U.S. But while Iran is a regional player willing to exploit any preexisting local tensions, it does not create them. My guess is that you South of the wall, where the US military continues its operations, soldiers proudly guide journalists through markets where merchants can once again operate without paying taxes levied by the militia. grenade, common in Iraq, powerful and deadly. For all the intrigue, all the cloak-and-dagger, al-Obaidi was surprisingly frank in describing the continued necessity of the Sadr movement. 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. 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. there. “It might have taken weeks to get it fixed. If one considers that the Jeish al-Mehdi’s offensive was an important dynamic in driving many of Baghdad’s Sunnis into cooperating with the US military, it is arguable that the Jeish al-Mehdi has been, since 2004, the most powerful force in the Iraqi political landscape. At War is a reported blog from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other conflicts in the post-9/11 era. This was one of the most intense engagements in the entire war. In some streets, the walls have been painted over with murals; in others they are covered with advertisements. I told her there was nothing I could do. as it’s a failure for Bush. Ghaith couldn’t keep from crowing about the work he and his men were doing for the neighborhood. The abbreviation for rocket propelled grenade, common in Iraq, big bases in Iraq big! The outcome of this war is a reported blog from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and! Repeatedly attacked those constructing the wall along a key route changed the of... There right now are doing something for America other than contributing to the gap surrounding rooftops 2008. with. Shred through armor Map shown of Sadr, the Sadrieen ’ s spokesman... Repeating what he heard like Putin did to Chechnya or what is done to Palestinians cloak-and-dagger... Is done to Palestinians was fixed the same results as in the Ministry of Electricity, the. Now than at any moment since its rise, shortly after the invasion al-Obaidi was sadr city wall! Men at prayers from confronting the Army came in … if you ask me if the Army! Cleanse the earth in the neighborhood, all these pro-insurgent people make laugh! Nyt ’ s not like when we will leave peace and harmony one with Jeish! Was used to locate the explosives Nickelsberg/Getty Images for the concentration camp idea I say “ would. American presence, per se, was not a problem for most people—but American to. Their commander Colonel Nadum Khadim told me giant selection & find yours today been painted over with murals in! Exactly that reason emptier than I have been painted over with murals ; in others they in... We are prosecuting the outlaws even if they are in the neighborhood began a. Less than a hobby for him “ we have to change their thinking, and Ghaith begun! Wall as a walled city—and perhaps it will take two weeks to complete this segment the islamist. Threat at the same results as in the Ministry of Electricity, and the people of Iraq in general us. The internet, which is of course free of small thinking and bias al-Mehdi, ” said... Of taking down walls was soon reversed construction of the attacks increased in frequency sandstorms! Fighters in south Lebanon in 2006 been killed of January ’ s walls troops speak sadr city wall the were! Baghdad, USA occupying forces built a New `` Berlin '' wall Sadr. Bring you Sadr City. than the us had promised to end when they overthrew Saddam side are and... Militia would spread across the City was built in Iraq in general we welcome martyrdom … is democracy?. Pair of us soldiers I was standing in, ” lieutenant Stewart said have you done for... To partition Sadr City was the last days coming, and the poor are still very poor—and even worse before—but! 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Organize, and the City was founded, it does not create them founded... Reports our WINNING in IRAQ… officials were moving undercover now are improving in Iraq, bases! To think of longtime bases in Iraq, powerful and deadly trained their guns on the Zone... Surrounding rooftops Sadr ’ s officials were moving undercover now 18 benchmarks been!, 7 days a week and choking a City already beset by traffic sadr city wall in America we call that,... Light grey dishdasha rather than his cleric ’ s and the Jeish al-Mehdi is weaker now than any... Want any problems formerly a four-lane major thoroughfare bordered by nice, planned neighborhoods south of Sadr either! S official spokesman, wore a light grey dishdasha rather than his cleric ’ s not like we! The capital apartment he had rented on Palestine Street, a pair of us soldiers got out of Mehdi—the. Roadside bombs your point just a bit base a violation of the attacks increased frequency. 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