Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

SOFT PARTITION?....The London Times provides more detail on the ongoing division of Baghdad along sectarian lines:

More and more, Baghdad is splintering into Shia and Sunni enclaves that are increasingly no-go areas for anyone from outside....The result is that since February, when Sunnis bombed the golden-domed mosque in Samarra, a Shia shrine, 146,322 individuals have been displaced in Baghdad, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The pattern is so pronounced that the US military has drawn up a new map of Baghdad to reflect its ethno-sectarian fault lines. Published here for the first time, it lists the mixed neighbourhoods considered to be most explosive. Four of the five are on the western bank of the Tigris, called Karkh, where mixed neighbourhoods are still prevalent. Predominently Shia Kadhamiya and the largely Sunni areas of Qadisiya, Amariya and Ghazaliya have become the deadliest battlegrounds, according to US forces.

Nadezhda has more over at American Footprints about the growing refugee crisis, and concludes "Soft partition may start looking like a better and better option."

The U.S. military map is below, and it demonstrates the de facto separation that's happening right now. Keep it handy in case Jeff Stein calls you for an interview.

Kevin Drum 2:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Comments

Yeah, but is this what the Saudis will accept?

Posted by: Keith G on December 14, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but is this what the Saudis will accept?
Posted by: Keith G on December 14, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

The saudis? Who gives a fuck about them?

Oh yeah, that's right, I still need to gas up my Hummer to commute to work.

Well, let's just keep those Saudis happy then. After all, if I don't keep paying them buttloads of petro-money, then we can't keep maintaining our blessed American Way of Life. Even if they behead people for carrying a bible. Even if that money goes to fund Iraqi terrorists who are blowing up our troops.

Posted by: American Fawk on December 14, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that the "flashpoints" do not match the list of most dangerous mixed neighborhoods. What is the difference?

Posted by: Zathras on December 14, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get out of Iraq and let them deal with their issues. There weren't these divisions until we put people in power according to religious lines. All we have done is cause problems, nothing good. We can maybe redeem ourselves by addressing the Millennium Development Goals and helping rebuild the infrastructure. But the contracts need to go to Iraqi companies and the Iraqi citizens not to US corporations and US workers. According to the Borgen Project, it only takes 40-60 billion a year to reach the MDGs versus the hundreds of billions we have already spent on this war!

Posted by: flagrl118 on December 14, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK
Interesting that the "flashpoints" do not match the list of most dangerous mixed neighborhoods. What is the difference?

Of the seven "Flashpoints" all but one (the one in Nidal) are in one of neighborhoods on the most dangerous list; from the specificity of the "flashpoints", I'd assume that they were scenes of particular events of intense sectarian fighting, though more of an explanation would be nice.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 14, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Let's get out of Iraq and let them deal with their issues. There weren't these divisions until we put people in power according to religious lines. All we have done is cause problems, nothing good.

Well, no arguement that we caused the problems and no arguement that our presence has done nothing good, but I'm not sure we can exonerate ourselves simply by leaving.

Much of our current state of failure has to do with the absolute piss-poor job that the administration has done with rebuilding Iraq. As badly as they miscaluculated the military dimension of this, they seem to have done even worse on the economic, political, and infrastructure pieces.

The question, and I don't mean it as a rhetorical one, is whether leaving and discontinuing all our support across combat, logistical, medical, etc. lines will help or worsen the situation. Is there anyway to force the President to apply serious and real changes to Iraq that may help mitigate the loss of civilian life and give Iraq some chance of not slipping into total chaos? If there isn't, then we gotta go and whatever happens, happens. But it seems to me we owe the Iraqi people one, good, long hard look at the situation and any possible solutions (which is only now possible with the incoming 110th Congress) before bailing out.

Posted by: cyntax on December 14, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

There are some errors in the smaller map: There won't be any mixed districts. And Bagdad will be Shiite.

Posted by: Gray on December 14, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Does this map tie in with our type of real estate maps? So could one do a comparison pricing for perhaps 2 bedrooms in Riyadh versus Khadamiya - Or a three bedroom, 2 bath in Ghubaban? Perhaps check the quality of the local schools? The driving time to the nearest morgue? The availability of obtaining AK-47s and RPGs from the nearest dealer? Is there a Kalashnikovs R'Us nearby?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 14, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I've got your picture, I've got your picture
I'd like a million of you all round my cell
I want a doctor to take your picture
So I can look at you from inside as well
You've got me turning up and turning down
And turning in and turning 'round

I'm turning Sunni
I think I'm turning Sunni
I really think so
Turning Sunni
I think I'm turning Sunni
I really think so
I'm turning Sunni
I think I'm turning Sunni
I really think so
Turning Sunni
I think I'm turning Sunni
I really think so

Posted by: The Iraqi Vapors on December 14, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Good lard. Is that map from the Onion? Waaay too much information.

Posted by: Matt on December 14, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

flagrl118 wrote:

"We can maybe redeem ourselves by addressing the Millennium Development Goals and helping rebuild the infrastructure. But the contracts need to go to Iraqi companies and the Iraqi citizens not to US corporations and US workers. According to the Borgen Project, it only takes 40-60 billion a year to reach the MDGs versus the hundreds of billions we have already spent on this war!"
___________________

We'll be able to do all that with just $40-60 Billion a year? For how long? And who do we have to kill to make adequate progress on those goals?

Accepting the MDGs as the basis for our foreign policy will certainly be a dynamic change. But wouldn't that involve us in determining the destiny of others even more than would American interests? What do we do when American interests and the MDGs clash? For that matter, if we don't keep American interests in mind, how long will we be in a position to work for progress in the MGDs?

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 14, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

The position of the 'green zone' is noted: right between the mixed-turning-Sunni and mixed-turning-Shia.

Posted by: ahem on December 14, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent graphic

Posted by: Chris on December 14, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry. Rest assured that The Decider is all over this like stink on shit. We'll just send a bunch more Marines in and blast hell out of anything that moves. Bullets solve every problem. Right, Al??

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 14, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

If there's any shred of hope in the situation, it's that the river might be a reasonably close approxmation of an natural Sunni/Shia dividing line. It's hard to say for sure because there's no indication of the neighborhoods' relative populations. But if, just if, the Sunnis end up on one side and the Shia on the other, there'd at least be a relatively easy to defend dividing line. Better than drawing artificial lines on the ground.

Posted by: Peter on December 14, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler, you realize, of course, that the post you've quoted is something that's been inserted by an intern who's paid to travel around blogs and post similar statements in the comments section.

For the record, the MDGs are simply a standardized set of indicators that are designed to encourage donor countries to coordinate their foreign development aid, i.e., to focus development assistance on a set of priority objectives such as health, education, water supply and sanitation, etc.

That is, it doesn't make any sense to talk about American foreign policy and the MDGs "clashing."

Posted by: Wonderin on December 14, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Holy sitting duck, Batman. The Green Zone looks more like a bullseye than an oasis.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on December 14, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why has it taken so long for them to come up with this obvious idea? It's tragic it's come to this, but I must say I've been thinking along these lines for months.

Posted by: Jasper on December 14, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Why has it taken so long for them to come up with this obvious idea?

Because it's not an "idea"..."partition" - and its cousin "ethnic cleansing" - is already happening in Iraq, caused and exacerbated by our military and policy choices, and will continue to happen, no matter what the Decider decides.

Posted by: Wonderin on December 14, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Not to worry. Rest assured that The Decider is all over this like stink on shit. We'll just send a bunch more Marines in and blast hell out of anything that moves. Bullets solve every problem. Right, Al??

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 14, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Because it's not an "idea"..."partition" - and its cousin "ethnic cleansing"...

Of course it's an "idea" (in the sense of a "proposed solution") -- don't be daft. The mere fact that something is unpleasant hardly means it's not a possible solution, or part of a possible solution. In the end such a solution may not work. And it almost certainly isn't ideal. But it's still a possibility. To this day Belfast is largely partitioned. I wouldn't want to live there myself, but I'd much rather liver there than Belfast.

The US obviously holds much of the blame for the disastrous situation today in Baghdad, but it's not responsible for the fact that the Islamic religion underwent a leadership succession fight fourteen centuries ago. And at any rate, an organized, regulated partition that sharply reduced the killing would be huge improvement over today's bloody anarchy.

Posted by: Jasper on December 14, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't want to live there myself, but I'd much rather liver there than Belfast.

That should, of course, read "there than Baghdad."

Posted by: Jasper on December 14, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

...an organized, regulated partition that sharply reduced the killing...

And this gets implemented how, exactly? Shall we just call a stop to the fighting and hold a workshop?

Posted by: Wonderin on December 14, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

From what I understand, there is no way in hell we leave Iraq any time soon. Tell me if I'm wrong, but if we leave, don't Iran and Irag become some kind of super shia state? Also, 130K troops in iraq could, if need be, head East into Iran. What we want is a pro-western moderate Arab government in Iraq. And it looks like we intend to stay until that happens.

Posted by: the fake fake al on December 14, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin wrote:

"the post you've quoted is something that's been inserted by an intern who's paid to travel around blogs and post similar statements in the comments section...

That is, it doesn't make any sense to talk about American foreign policy and the MDGs "clashing."
________________

Oh, thanks, Wonderin. It did sound a little...off topic.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 14, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin wrote:

"the post you've quoted is something that's been inserted by an intern who's paid to travel around blogs and post similar statements in the comments section...

That is, it doesn't make any sense to talk about American foreign policy and the MDGs "clashing."
________________

Oh, thanks, Wonderin. It did sound a little...off topic.

Posted by: Trashhauler on December 14, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Intern who's paid to travel"

Well, I did read her post on Wonkette where there was a lot of Borgen Project info.

What bothered me when I first read the Borgen Project name on her post, was that the project was in the first line of that incredibly long anti-semitic spam which almost shut this site down two weeks ago. Perhaps someone hijacked one of hers or their posts and added the reams of garbage. However, she is currently posting on the Pinochet-Castro thread.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 14, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

the Islamic religion underwent a leadership succession fight fourteen centuries ago.

It seems to me the Christian religion has had more than one of those 'fights.' Belfast is the result of a Christian schism that took place about 500 years ago. The Serb - Croatian fighting of the 1990's resulted from a Christian schism that took place about a thousand years ago.

I think it is clear the religion of Islam needs another schism to even things up.

Posted by: Hostile on December 14, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Intern who's paid to travel"

For the record, based on a previous MDG-themed post on another PA thread, I emailed the poster in order to discuss the MDG issue and its relevance; the poster confessed that s/he was posting here as part of an internship with Borgen.

Having a standardized set of indicators that can guide donor countries in terms of sychronizing development assistance ain't a bad idea - the question is whether the MDG concept is having any impact (e.g., on actual patterns of development assistance funding).

Sorry for OT discussion...back to topic...

Posted by: Wonderin on December 14, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that britain increased foreign aid aiming at the millenium goals. So they may have had some effect.

Posted by: jefff on December 14, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Let the Tigris separate them. Shia to the north and east. Sunni to the south and west.

Posted by: David on December 14, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Well this certainly demonstrates, yet again, the wonderful healing powers of religion.

Posted by: craigie on December 14, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

It looks from the map like all of the area between the Green Zone and the Baghdad is turning Sunni. Sunnis that are not happy with US hints that we may 'tilt' to the Shia and against them.

I guess that means that Green Zone/US Embassy people will be leaving by helicopter when the final throes arrive.

Can a helicopter make it from Baghdad to Kuwait? The Shia militias could easily control the highway routes from Baghdad to Basra, so how are we going to get out all our heavy equipment and those people (120K troops and 100K contractors) out via helicopters since we won't likely have access to 'Baghdad International Airport'

Are we rehearsing our 'fighting retreat' skills yet?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on December 14, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

It looks from the map like all of the area between the Green Zone and the Baghdad is turning Sunni. Sunnis that are not happy with US hints that we may 'tilt' to the Shia and against them.

And from there it gets really ugly. This would set us against our staunch ally Saudi Arabia, which has stated they will fund and materially support the Sunni's.

Worldwide, Sunni's are a vast majority of Muslims. The greatest concentration of Shia are located in Iran and Iraq and countries in that neighborhood.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 14, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Oh wait, it seems like there's another solution to the US exit issue: turn the Green Zone into a Crusader Castle in what is now Lebanon and Israel, like the ones from the early 2nd millenium. You know, the ones with the Xtians under seige by the Arab armies that starved them out? The ones that were 'left behind'.


Posted by: JimPortlandOR on December 14, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at the spot news photo of John McCain in Iraq by AFP photojournalist Saba Arer -- USA Today featured it on the front page of its online edition per 12.14. No pancake makeup, no soft lighting, just the real McCain . . . old and tired and washed up.

Posted by: Robert Dare on December 14, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Crusader Castle

My husband is a retired USAF intel officer. HE has been using that term since he first heard the term Green Zone.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 14, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess that means that Green Zone/US Embassy people will be leaving by helicopter when the final throes arrive."

They may be able to use boats as well.

Posted by: jefff on December 14, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

You think they wouldn't mine the rivers and set up sniper nests for those trying to flee by water?

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 14, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, they would try.

Posted by: jefff on December 14, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax: But it seems to me we owe the Iraqi people one, good, long hard look at the situation and any possible solutions (which is only now possible with the incoming 110th Congress) before bailing out.

Half the Dems in Congress voted against giving the president the authority to use military force against S.H. Even some of them agree that a quick withdrawal would be irresponsible. I don't expect the 110th Congress to improve much in Iraq, but I do believe that they'll bring new vigor and thoroughness to the debate, as they try to find a solution.

In short, I agree with what you wrote, despite my elaboration. But I think the result will be a long U.S. stay in Iraq, and some uncomfortable outcome in between the best and the worst.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

US Forces alreday use helicopters to go from The Green Zone to the Airport (known lovingly as BAIP) because it is, and has been for some time, too dangerous to drive that 5 miles. From BAIP they fly on a military plane to various airfields in Kuwait.

Things that cannot be transported in the air generally go on night convoys- after the vehicle curfew is in effect. Depending on the size of the convoy, the route, and the nature of whats in the trucks, escort vehicles range from 3 humvees to a dozen Strykers + Abrams.

Future historians with a literary mind will associate The Green Zone with Ozymandias.

Posted by: Been there on December 15, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

BIAP, not BAIP. Baghdad International AirPort.

Posted by: ajay on December 15, 2006 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

Its pronounced BYE-op, but it stands for BA_ghdad I_nternational air_P_ort.

Posted by: Been there on December 15, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Regardign the Iraq war: I keep getting the strange feeling that I am reading a plagiarized paper.

Posted by: Global Citizen on December 15, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Sure looks like the moat idea might have something to it. Take the Shia from Amariya, Umal, Ghubabah and move them across the river. How many troops do you need to guard the bridges? How deep is the river?

Partition Baghdad like it was post-war Berlin and use the river like the Berlin Wall.

Just do it.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 15, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK
Partition Baghdad like it was post-war Berlin

So, does the US occupy the Sunni or the Shi'a part, and what opposing superpower do we get to occupy the other part?

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

been there: Future historians with a literary mind will associate The Green Zone with Ozymandias.

Dien Bien Phu, perhaps.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 15, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the association with Dien Bien Phu requires a literary mind.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 15, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I see the map, the divisions, our position and yet I'm not sure where OUR enemies are and who we're fighting.

Mr. President, who exactly are we fighting?

Posted by: MarkH on December 15, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

People here talk about Baghdad like it's just some third-world strip mall and associated slums. This is one of humanity's most ancient cities. Let's at least get some concept of what it is that our war is destroying.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on December 16, 2006 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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