Completely sealed off by US and Iraqi forces, Sadr City is emblematic of Iraq today. Mortar attacks killed at least 13 people on Wednesday, in the Baghdad stronghold of Moqtada Sadr. (Report: L. Menget, G. Martin and M. Ibrahim)
The road to Sadr City takes you through dumps. It’s the only one that’s still open. The Shia city, home to two million people, is almost empty. Cars can’t leave it and pedestrians are hiding. Sadr City has been under curfew for 15 days as a punishment to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
This huge neighbourhood, Baghdad’s most deprived, is living through hard times. It’s been completely sealed off by Iraqi and American forces and there are corpses to bury from the clashes every day.
The fighters from the Mahdi Army hide. But some have agreed to take us through the area, even serving as bait: this avenue is withing the US snipers’ gun sights.
The fear is palpable, but the anger towards the government is even stronger. “The government refused to respect our agreements,” says Abou Haidar, a Mahdi Army militiaman in Sadr City. “We hide our weapons but they let their troops into our city. They attacked our houses and arrested civilians.”
By the end of the day, the attacks have caused the death of 18 people, and sharpened the anger in Sadr City.
At the Mahdi Army headquarters, bags of rice and grain arrive directly from Pakistan or Iran. The Baghdad boss of the party is categorical: Americans are worse than Saddam Hussein.
"Of course, things for us are more tragic than under Saddam,” Sayyed Salman Al-Freejy, Sadr's representative for East Baghdad. “I really do think that now that the student has gone, the masters are left.”
In Sadr City, the flag of Iraqi unity flutters over the ruins of a dream.
Date created : 2008-04-09