Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Neighbors who'd still like to kill you, of course, if not for said fences.

...more on the flip...

Shorja, Baghdad's largest market, is back in business and it's booming. Vendors tout their wares screaming discounts at full volume: "Big sale, everything at 2,000 dinars ($1.60)!" yells one.
Everything a $1.60? Quick, someone tell Lindsey "I Bought Five Rugs for Five Bucks" Graham!
There hasn't been an attack on the market since last February, when more than 70 people died in a series of bombings. Today the market is secured with concrete barriers and checkpoints manned by the Iraqi army. Everyone entering gets frisked, bags are checked, vehicles are banned and all goods must be carted in by hand.

Shoppers here take a risk every time they visit. Since February, at least 48 people have died in bomb, gun and mortar attacks in the area surrounding Shorja market.
Just another day at the mall, right?

It's a similar story across Baghdad. There are pockets of security where life is starting to get back to normal, but it's not normal by most standards. Across the city Sunnis and Shiites live in sectarian enclaves, many walled off.

Sunnis fear visiting Shiite areas and vice versa, even if it is just a few blocks away. Trust has broken down so much that a stranger in a neighborhood can arouse enough suspicion to warrant an attack.

So, the good news is that sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq are down. The bad news is that sectarian walls are (literally) up. Who would've guessed that the way to quell violence in Iraq was to rebuild Berlin between the Tigris and Euphrates?