People are drinking again in public in Baghdad for the first time since 2003; at a newly opened nightclub only ten minutes’ drive from Sadr City, the owner smiled broadly. “No more Jeish al-Mehdi,” he said. When I asked if all this was really attributable to the containment wall, one of my friends chimed in, smiling now too, “It is like zoo.” On the other side of the wall, however, the shop owners of Sadr City are not so happy. “Your business dies because of these stones,” one shop owner told me. We were standing on the eastern edge of the Sadr City, near where another wall had been built, running almost the entire length of the district. “The Americans . . . the Americans . . . This is their plan, not Iraqis. They directed the Iraqi government to do this—to hurt Sadr City and especially the Sadr movement. The neighborhood is already suffocating. And they put these stones to suffocate it more?” As we talked, an old woman squeezed through an opening in the barrier just large enough for a single person. After her came another, a man carrying a canister of cooking gas who tossed his purchase over the wall to a helpful bystander before squeezing through the crack and continuing on his way. “Is this Iraq?” the shop owner asked.
more from David Enders at VQR here.