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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Burb's

The Guardian reports that fighting erupted at dawn across Iraq, including Sadr City:

Battles in other cities have, however, killed dozens of people as the radical Shia uprising spreads, presenting Mr Allawi with his toughest challenge since taking office on June 28.

In Sadr City, Baghdad - a suburb named after Mr Sadr's father - clashes erupted as militia fighters ignored a curfew order from Mr Allawi's government. The first shots were heard as US tanks and Iraqi national guardsmen moved into the area at daybreak.

Suburb? That's a bit of a faulty characterization there. Sadr City is much less suburb than slum. In fact, it is, more than anything, a pit dug by Saddam in which to dump the poorest of the Shia poor. A background blurb from GlobalSecurity.org:

Once known as Saddam City, then as Al Thawra, Sadr City is named for the Imam Mohammed Sadr, an Iraqi religious leader killed by Saddam Hussein. Many residents still call it Al Thawra, meaning "Revolution City."

Subdivided into six sections, the district is one of the poorest in Baghdad. The population consists mostly of Shiite Moslems. Unemployment is rampant. Homes are in disrepair. It is also a haven for criminals released from Iraqi prisons by Saddam shortly before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sadr City, built by Saddam Hussein, was the scene of numerous confrontations between coalition forces and residents in 2003. Infrastructure problems still plague portions of the district. Electrical services are intermittent. Parts of some streets in some neighborhoods are flooded with sewage from long-neglected pipes. Trash pickup stopped during the war, and residents started dumping their trash on the medians in the potholed streets.

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