Iraq to encircle Baghdad with defensive wall

Iraq to encircle Baghdad with defensive wall
Iraq's army chief has revealed plans to build a ring of concrete between the capital and Islamic State group fighters.
3 min read
04 February, 2016
Suicide bombs have rocked Iraq since the start of the US-led invasion [Getty]
A 186-mile, 10-foot-high wall will surround Baghdad to protect the Iraqi capital from potential IS group attacks, officials said on Thursday.

The construction follows a series of bomb blasts that rocked the city on Wednesday, killing eight and wounding 26.

"The security barrier around Baghdad will prevent terrorists from infiltrating the capital or smuggling explosives and car bombs to target innocent civilians," said Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer al-Shammari.

The plans for the construction and digging of the trenches have already began 20 miles west of Baghdad in the al-Subaihat area.

But Haider Lapcha, analyst at Integrity UK, told The New Arab that this was a four-year-old plan that had just come into effect.

"There are two arguments being discussed in Baghdad at the moment; the first is that of the anti-government voices that say the plans to build these barriers will be ineffective because a large majority of terrorists are home grown - this may stop external terrorists entering, but it does not deal with sleeper cells in Baghdad itself," he said.

"The other, pro-government, camp says it could be effective as it is part of a broader strategy that has already proven to reduce terrorism in the capital," he added.

The government said it would dismantle existing barriers within the city to make way for the planned wall and trenches.

However, the capital's Green Zone - first built by occupying US forces in 2003 and home to government politicians as well as international diplomats - will remain untouched.
Building a wall around the capital is not a long-term solution for terrorism

Iraq has seen almost daily bloodshed from suicide bombings since the start of the US-led war on Saddam Hussein.

UN figures show 490 civilians were killed and more than 1,150 wounded due to attacks in the past month alone.

Baghdad was the hardest hit with 299 civilians killed and 785 wounded in January.

In recent months, government offices, public buildings and security centres have been targeted by the militant IS group with an attack on a shopping centre last month leaving 18 dead.

However, Lapcha believes the new construction is a short-sighted plan: "Building a wall around the capital is not a long-term solution for terrorism, Iraq needs to increase transparency across the board - that way people can hold senior officials accountable, which will in turn reduce corruption, bring social reconciliation and in turn eradicate terrorism."

The new security barrier is to be built by the country's military Engineering Corps and is expected to halve the number of checkpoints in the city by July.

The government scheme hopes to free up thousands of soldiers from their checkpoint posts to take up other combat duties.