And it paints a picture of a city rapidly becoming divided into ethnic camps, pinpointing areas known as "flashpoints". It's not a tactical map of any kind, but it is used by the US military in Iraq, according to the TimesOnline. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Baghdad is like a jungle, the grey-bearded Shia militia leader said. “It is a savage place where the wild animals fight for their piece of territory. Each animal wants to take more land than the other.”Hmmm... that sounds like.... nah!
Abu Bakr takes his job as a commander in al-Mahdi Army extremely seriously. In Sadr City, he organises fighters at checkpoints to defend the Shia enclave from Sunni extremists in neighbouring districts.
His foot soldiers, followers of the Shia cleric Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, are vigilant in protecting their territory. “The Takfiris [Sunni extremists] want to use Sunni areas as a base to attack the Shia and all of Iraq. They want to make Iraq a country for al-Qaeda,” Abu Bakr cautioned.
Across the Tigris, in western Baghdad, Abu Obeida, an al-Qaeda member, sits in his house in the Sunni district of Amariya. The 33-year-old has the air of one under siege. He talks about preparing to confront al-Mahdi Army and rails against them for murdering innocent civilians. He makes no mention of the car bomb attacks that his group has carried out against the Shia over the past three years.
“What we are trying to do right now is to prevent the expansion of these militias, so we are keeping our forces on the outskirts of our neighbourhoods to prevent them from invading,” Abu Obeida said. “Most important right now is for our groups not to lose our areas.”
More and more, Baghdad is splintering into Shia and Sunni enclaves that are increasingly no-go areas for anyone from outside. The trend is fuelled by the ugliest sectarianism. It also reflects a crude power grab, with both sides egged on by political parties aiming to maximise their clout in the Iraqi Government by dominating as much of the capital as possible. The result is that since February, when Sunnis bombed the golden-domed mosque in Samarra, a Shia shrine, 146,322 individuals have been displaced in Baghdad, according to the International Organisation for Migration.Y'know, that would be called a civil war if anyone but Bush was busy not being rushed.
The pattern is so pronounced that the US military has drawn up a new map of Baghdad to reflect its ethno-sectarian fault lines. Published here for the first time, it lists the mixed neighbourhoods considered to be most explosive. Four of the five are on the western bank of the Tigris, called Karkh, where mixed neighbourhoods are still prevalent. Predominently Shia Kadhamiya and the largely Sunni areas of Qadisiya, Amariya and Ghazaliya have become the deadliest battlegrounds, according to US forces.
The violent struggle for neighbourhoods goes well beyond a fight among outlaws. Armed groups belonging to the parliament’s two main Sunni and Shia political blocs fuel much of the violence, according to senior Iraqi officials.