Thursday, April 9, 2009

City of walls. Putting lipstick on a pig

In 2001 we (my wife and I) decided to build our dream house. We worked very hard for nearly 3 years with the architects, engineers, contractors to fulfill our dreams. We moved in the house after the “liberation!” of Iraq.

Soon after that some American companies moved into the neighborhood and brought with them their security contractors. Side streets were blocked and check points were put manned by armed contractors.

To complicate the problem 9 ministers of the American backed government of Iraq moved to the neighborhood also, naturally each one of them brought his own security guards. I suspect reason is that our neighborhood is very close to their offices in the Green Zone.

Very high Blast walls started to be brought into the neighborhood. I was told the CNN is moving into our neighborhood and that they would install some of it in front of our house!!! I was told that there is no sense in objecting to it because the American security contractors have decided to put it there!!!!

Being a stubborn person I contacted Kevin Flower chief of CNN Baghdad bureau and objected to installing the blast wall in front of our house. Kevin stopped the work and they moved the check point and the blast wall few meters away from my house.

Then our neighborhood was isolated from the rest of Baghdad by 4 meters (9-10 feet) high blast walls. All side streets were closed by this wall. We were restricted to through THE one check point. Every time we come to our house our cars will be checked and searched even if we only go out for few minutes to get a loaf of bread.

Our friend or family members will have a very hard time getting to our house. One cannot call a taxi or an ambulance because they will not easily allowed into OUR neighborhood. With no friend of family members able to visit us we became prisoners in our house.

Every once in a while I used to call Kevin and invite him to move from his CNN prison to my prison (house) for a drink or two in the house garden. He comes escorted by his security guard for the 50 meter walk!!!

This Blast wall was NOT erected to protect the Sunnis from the Shies or the other way around. It is simply to protect the American companies that invaded our neighborhood.

The main commercial street in Baghdad (Saadoon street) blast walls were put right in the middle of the street dividing the incoming and the outgoing traffic.

Not only this another set of blast walls were put (left side of the street) in the street leading to the Baghdad hotel. This 4 meter high blast wall with watch towers extended to 2 lanes of the street and the side walk reducing traffic to one lane going to the Ferdous square as can be seen in this photo.

Ironically Ferdous in Arabic means HEAVEN!!! I am not suggesting that America is restricting our way to heaven but for sure they are making our life looks like hell !!!

Not everything is as UGLY as I make it sound. Iraqi artists decided to hide the ugliness by using the blast wall to draw murals on them.

The picture to the left was drawn on the right side of the blast wall dividing “Saadoon street”. Note artist were standing on the island dividing the road !!!!

An ugly pig is an UGLY PIG no matter how much lipstick one puts on it !!!!!

Baghdad City of Walls

A documentary film about blast walls in Baghdad

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a Baghdad-born award-winning photographer and journalist, returns to the streets of a Baghdad now divided by security walls separating Sunni and Shia. Ghaith's ability to move around the city despite the dangers, gives us a unique insight into this Baghdad and to a story so far untold.

Click to see Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

See also another Film

After Siege, Wall Sadr City's New Oppression

and another film

City of Walls - Iraq

In this exclusive report we investigate whether the US surge has really managed to transform Baghdad? Has life in the city actually improved and violence fallen, or is it just because of the walls which have temporarily stopped the fighters in their tracks?

Click to see Film


  1. I am moved why into the neighborhood brought with them their security contractors. Side streets were blocked and check points were put manned by armed contractors!!!if I was there,An ugly pig is an UGLY...we know who we are talking my husband now is well in your workplace generic viagra I'am happy !!!