Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Creating a Gulag in Baghdad

Sadr City: 3,000,000 poor people surrounded by troops, cut off from the rest of their country, with social services provided by Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. Who is winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis?

Listen to this report by Pepe Escobar of Real News:

Highlights from the video:

Muqtada al-Sadr, in all western reports, is always branded as a
firebrand cleric or a radical cleric. There's nothing to it. In fact, he's a
very, very clever politician. He knows that al-Maliki is after him and the Sadrists, because the government in Baghdad and the Americans are terrified that the Sadrists are going to win the next provincial
elections in October.
This also means that the battle of Basra a few
weeks ago that became battle of Baghdad as well is not over. In fact, the encroaching of Sadr City, which is the main area of concentration of the Sadrists, continues. Sadr City's basically a gigantic slum—it could be northern Africa or near the Pakistani tribal areas—with 3 million people. They are poor, they are angry, they are seething, and they come from all parts of southern Iraq. And now they're being totally strangled. The whole area's being strangled. To get to Sadr City there are only two boulevards from the other parts of Baghdad, and then there's a main boulevard that crosses Sadr City, and then you can drive, in fact walk, around a labyrinth inside the slum. What the Maliki forces are doing with the help of the Americans is to completely
strangle this area. They already strangled twelve mini-neighborhoods among the 79 neighborhoods that compose Sadr City. So this in a nutshell is what the Maliki government, the embattled Maliki government, and the American forces in Baghdad are doing. Their new surge in fact is a gulag. They are trying to transform Sadr City into a 3 million-people gulag in the center of Baghdad.

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