Iraqi Press on Baghdad Wall
The USG Open Source Center paraphrases Iraqi press stories on the plan to build a wall around the district of Adhamiya (A’zamiyah) in Baghdad:
|Iraqi Media Highlights Al-A’zamiyah Wall Construction Story, Cites Reactions |
Iraq — OSC Report
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 T14:13:33Z
Iraqi media has increasinlgy highlighted reaction to the construction of Al-A’zamiyah wall and the positions of key players in Iraq as well as citizens of Baghdad. According to Iraqi reports, US troops began building the wall around the predominately Sunni district of Al-A’zamiyah in Baghdad. The wall, which is comprised of reinforced concrete blocks, each of which weighs more than six tons, will be 5.4 km long. The general tone of Iraqi reporting is negative and critical, with some outlets media outlets comparing it to the Berlin Wall and the containment wall first implemented by Israel’s former Prime Minister Aiel Sharon, while others opine that it is a sign of a failed US policy to curb sectarian violence in the city. Click here to view a map of the district of Al-A’zamiyah in Baghdad.
Wall of Al-A’zamiyah
Baghdad Al-Sharqiyah Television in Arabic — Independent, private news and entertainment channel focusing on Iraq, run by Sa’d al-Bazzaz, publisher of the Arabic-language daily Al-Zaman leads its 1300 GMT newscast on 23 April with a report on “a huge demonstration staged in Al-A’zamiyah City to protest the establishment of the wall which the Iraqi security agencies in cooperation with the US forces have started to erect on 10 April to isolate the city.” The report notes that the demonstrators carried banners calling for removing “the concrete blocs and barbwire which they said have turned the area into to a big prison.”
Demo in Al-A’zamiyah
On the official Iraqi position on this development, Al-Sharqiyah notes “conflicting statements by Iraqi security officials in charge of the security plan with respect to their knowledge of the construction of the construction of this wall. Staff Lieutenant General Abbud Qanbar, commander of the Law Enforcement Plan, denied the existence of this wall. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed that it does exist. Proof of this is that he requested in a news conference with the Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa halting construction of this wall.”
Admiral Fox in News conference
The station also cites Admiral Mark Fox, head of the strategic communications brigade of the multinational forces, as saying that “the Iraqi and US forces are working together in Baghdad to establish security, noting that the decision to build the wall was endorsed by the Iraqi Government before the implementation of the project.”
After devoting the first nine-minutes of its newscast to the wall issue, the station moves to report on another development by starting its second story with the following sentence:” From Al-A’zamiyah wall to the walls of the Green Zone which are breached sometimes.”
Within its Harvest news program, the station at 1808 GMT carries a report citing reactions of several Iraqi politicians. The report notes that “Mahmud Uthman, member of the Kurdistan Alliance, said that the construction of the wall around Al-A’zamiyah area constitutes the height of failure, a bad and shameful step, and a violation of human rights. He stressed that this is a clear proof of the failure of the US and Iraqi governmental policy vis-a-vis preserving security, noting that this step means reaching the end of the road.”
For his part, Iyad al-Samarra’i, deputy for the Islamic Party, said that building the wall under the excuse of providing security protection is not enough to a take measure that segregates areas.
Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic — government-sponsored television station, run by the Iraqi Media Network, makes no mention of the development concerning Al-A’zamiyah wall during its 1400 GMT newscast on 23 April. At 1421 GMT, the station carries a recording of the news conference by Brigadier General Qasim Ata, spokesman for the Law Enforcement Plan; and Mark Fox. In the news conference, Ata speaks about the security barriers set up in Baghdad by saying:” I confirm that the security barriers set up in all areas and those proposed to be set up in other areas are temporary security barriers aimed at securing the citizens.” He adds that “some brother politicians referred to the barriers as sectarian barriers and others likened them to the China Wall and others likened them to the Berlin Wall.” He maintains that “this issue has been blown out of proportion. Why is this focus on Al-A’zamiyah area and why did not the media focus on other areas?” He asks why has not there been focus on barriers built elsewhere by these people “who try to trigger sectarian sedition.”
Within its 1400 GMT newscast on 23 April, Baghdad Al-Furat Television Channel in Arabic — Television channel affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) led by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, reports that ” Brigadier General Qasim Atta, Law Enforcement Plan spokesman, strongly criticized the role of media in exaggerating the issue of the security barriers which are set up in Baghdad’s streets as part of the Law Enforcement Plan.” This is followed by a video report which features excerpts of the said news conference. The reporter maintains that “using explosives detectors and surrounding hot areas with barriers are measures which the security services abide by in order to reach the planned level of stability in Baghdad and other areas.”
Cairo Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel in Arabic — Pro-Sunni, anti-US Iraqi channel believed to be affiliated with the Association of Muslim Scholars, carries as the second news item in its 1200 GMT newscast on 23 April a report on Al-A’zmaiyah wall which starts as follows:” Iraqis have welcomed the decision to halt continuing the construction of Al-A’zamiyah wall with much comfort especially since simil ar walls had only bad impacts on their peoples in the world. For his part, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker justified the occupation’s construction of the wall as an attempt to preserve the city’s security.” This is followed by a video report on this development noting that “Iraqis received Al-Maliki’s statements voiced in Cairo on Al-A’zamiyah wall with comfort especially since Al-Maliki’s backtracking means that the decision to build the wall which separates between Iraqis, who have coexisted throughout years peacefully and without resorting to this segregation among their sects, is incorrect.”
The report also sounds out the opinion of Iraqis on the construction of the wall.
One Iraqi citizen says:” The prime minister’s decision to halt construction of the wall is positive.”
A second citizen says: “This is a correct decision by the Prime Ministry represented by the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki because this is something that might split the people and cause segregation among the components of the people.” The reporter notes in the report that “for its part, the US occupation dealt with Al-Maliki’s call for halting the construction of the wall cautiously, expressing resumption of dialogue on the construction of the wall which it claims preserves security in Al-A’zamiyah in an attempt to divide Iraqis.”
At 1207 GMT, the station holds a telephone interview with Yasir Majid, political writer and analyst, in Baghdad. He argues that “an initial examination of the pertinent statements indicate contradictions and that there are multiple decision-makers, and the unavailability of the least degree of coordination or agreement between the occupation forces and Al-Maliki’s government.”
Cairo Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television in Arabic — Private Iraqi television known for its opposition to the US presence in Iraq, reports within its 1400 GMT newscast on 23 April on the protest staged by Al-A’zamiyah’s residents against con struction of the wall as well as Al-Maliki’s statements in Cairo calling for halting construction of the wall. Afterwards, the station features excerpts of the news conference by Qasim Ata showing him as saying that “some media outlets reported that the security forces will build a 12-meter high and five-kilometer long segregation wall in Al-A’zamiyah area. Such reports are inaccurate. As I said, we will set up security barriers which will either be in the form of concrete blocs, barbwire, or sand barricades not only in Al-A’zamiyah area but in all areas suffering from the terrorist and takfiri operations.”
In a statement posted to its website, The Association of Muslim Scholars condemned the construction of the wall. The AMS stated that “Following in the steps of chief criminal Sharon, the other chief criminal Bush now seeks to build sectarian separation concrete walls after the failure of all his plans to eradicate resistance, break the will of the people, and entrench sectarianism among the people’s segments.
This ugly crime shows the failure of the security plans of the occupation troops and the current government. Second, it demonstrates that these two sides have reached a hysterical stage. These troops, whose madness has led them to annihilating around one million Iraqis, today seek to impose collective punishment against those who reject their illegitimate presence. In doing so, they followed the example of abhorrent Sharon.”