Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Sunday that the US military halt its construction of a security wall around the Sunni Arab district of Adhamiya. Al-Maliki spoke from Cairo where he is meeting with foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbors.
The mainstream US media will sidestep this point, but al-Maliki pretty explicitly said that the reason he called off the wall building is that he doesn’t want his government compared to that of Israel. That is, the Adhamiya wall is being likened in the Arab world to the Apartheid Wall being built by the Israelis in the West Bank. Al-Maliki made the statement in Cairo, and when he referred to the “other walls” he didn’t want the one in Adhamiya compared to, he pointed toward Israel. The Western press is bringing up the Berlin Wall as part of his meaning, but the videotape makes it absolutely clear that his referent was Israel’s project. On the other hand, Nassar al-Rubaie, a Sadrist member of the Iraqi parliament, did warn that the US is building a series of Berlin Walls in Baghdad.
The politics of the wall points to the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian issue is absolutely central to the difficulties the United States is having in being accepted in Iraq. Many Iraqis perceive the US presence as just an extension of Israeli occupation of Arabs and Arab land, and routinely refer to US troops as “the Jews.”