View Full Version : The Urban Tourniquet – “Gated Communities” in Baghdad

04-28-2007, 06:24 AM
Dave Kilcullen's latest at the SWJ Blog - The Urban Tourniquet – “Gated Communities” in Baghdad (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/04/the-urban-tourniquet-gated-com/).

Gated communities in counterinsurgency are like tourniquets in surgery. They can stem a life-threatening hemorrhage, but they must be applied sparingly, released as often and as soon as possible, and they have side-effects that have to be taken into account. They are never a first choice. But, given the dire current situation in Baghdad, the “urban tourniquet” is the lesser of several evils, because it breaks the cycle of sectarian violence that has caused so much damage and human suffering in Iraq...

As always, please post comments on the blog as well as here and if you deem worthy give the post a vote at Real Clear Politics (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/readerarticles/?period=all). Thanks much - Dave D.

04-28-2007, 06:58 PM

If this gated community effort works and it sounds very promising, have you given any thought to building strategic hamlets for the Iraqi IDP and Refugee populations? It seems to me a great way to get them back in, to build rapor with them and to get them off the borders. No need to run the issue of forcible relocation since they probably would prefer a secure community with access to clean water, shelter, food and employment to the ramshackle tent cities on the Saudi, Jordanian, and Syrian borders. These folks could prove a source of strength.


05-01-2007, 09:00 PM
Bing West's take on the Azamiyah wall in Slate - The Great Wall of Indifference (http://www.slate.com/id/2165036/).

The news of late has focused upon this Sunni district in northeast Baghdad, where materials for a 12-foot-high concrete barrier have been positioned along a main avenue. Of the dozens of barriers across the city being laid down—principally by U.S. military and contractors—Azamiyah was the one that caught international attention when the residents complained the government was "imprisioning and punishing them for the acts of a few" by forcing all cars to pass through check points. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, on a visit to Egypt, ordered the barrier halted, and the American ambassador agreed to comply.

On the surface, the episode is a triumph for the press in bringing to international attention an injustice, and for the prime minister in immediately responding and standing up for the rights of the Sunni minority...

A barrier would restrict both al-Qaida and the JAM, easing pressure on the people. But it's easy to persuade the residents to object to anything done by what they call "the Iranian government of Maliki."

The prime minister's gesture at stopping the Azamiyah barrier indicated he isn't working closely with his own generals, who sit side by side with the American officers planning how to bring stability and reduce violence in every district in Baghdad. There was nothing secret about the barrier or the materials lining the street. The prime minister was out of touch...

05-01-2007, 10:53 PM
LTC Killcullen responded to the Maliki halt to construction in his response on the SWJ Blog.

His Response:

"PM Maliki did initially order a halt to the construction, last Thursday. This was a perfectly appropriate response to the localized protests. However, he has now directed the project to continue."

05-01-2007, 11:28 PM
Charles Bird at REDSTATE Blog - About those Gated "Ghettoes" in Baghdad (http://www.crosstabs.org/blogs/charles_bird/2007/apr/30/about_those_gated_ghettoes_in_baghdad) (and a Hat Tip for the Link to the SWJ)

Omar at Iraq the Model Blog - The Wall (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2007/04/wall.html)

Jules Crittenden on his Blog - Small War Deep Think (http://www.julescrittenden.com/2007/05/01/small-war-deep-think) on the Wall and the SWJ in general (and A Hat tip to Jules for the kind words)

05-02-2007, 11:27 AM
Prof. Marc Lynch on the wall policy (http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2007/05/remember_the_ad.html) and points to a poll done by CNN Arabic showing 76% Iraqi disapproval of the walls.

Really? We're to believe that the widespread public outrage over the wall was all due to al-Qaeda? To me that sounds like either (a) cheap rationalization, (b) spin aimed at credulous American audiences, or (c) evidence that the strategists are dangerously out of touch. I'm not sure which would be more alarming. I have no doubt that insurgency groups or sympathizers, as well as al-Qaeda, played some role in mobilizing outrage - but to therefore dismiss widespread popular sentiment seems like exactly the kind of tone-deaf mistake which the US repeatedly made pre-Petreaus. I can't imagine (http://arablinks.blogspot.com/2007/05/residential-lockdown-strategy-now.html)why Sunni leaders might feel like the government and the US ignore their concerns (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/01/world/middleeast/01iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin). Kilcullen says that the US considers it worthwhile to pay a political cost because of the great tactical importance of these Baghdad walls. But political considerations are crucial at this point, aren't they?

At any rate, people should know that according to this report the wall is back on, and its because the US forces say (and Maliki supposedly believes) that hostile Iraqi public opinion is all al-Qaeda's fault.

MountainRunner: Response to Urban Tourniquet (http://mountainrunner.us/2007/04/another_brick_in_the_wall_part.html).

Surprisingly, Kilcullen's response lays out a security plan without responding to the key reason of why he writes his response was needed in the first place: information operations by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The failure to get on message, and promote the advantages, emphasize the short-life span, and highlight other successful elements of the wall cannot be blamed on AQI but on the continued failure of the US to internalize what AQI has: knowledge of the value of information. Or, Information Dominance to use language befitting a field manual ...

Pardon my ignorance, but have the walls of Ameriya and Ghazaliya come down? Has there been a reiteration that they will, a vocal expression of their success, and demonstration of their value? How have we differentiated past, present, and future structures from images that resonate negatively with locals and allies, such as walls in Ireland and Palestine?
Kilcullen's justifications are sound, but the tactic is still incomplete. Missing is the full spectrum participation of non-uniformed responses from State, USAID, etc. Community development is more than temporal security and creating bonds of communication, which Kilcullen alludes to in the success of previous temporary cordons. We must exercise the full force of USG, with all of its many departments and tremendous expertise, to demonstrate our real resolve, if there is one. The walled off communities should become role models of sorts, incentivising others to want the same peace and security and prosperity.
Where is the broader IO, public affairs, public diplomacy that emphasizes the new goals of the mission: stability and government legitimacy (new in the sense of a smart strategy to actually accomplish them)? Ambassador Crocker says one thing, local supporting media says another (without clarification), military spokesmen say another, and other media outlets something else. Where are the talking points? Where is the linkage being promoted in this war over information to prevent negative manipulation by friends (unintentionally) and foes alike?

After reading Kilcullen's response, I agree with him on the value of the walls. However, I still feel the tactical solution of deploying the walls is woefully and dangerously incomplete in both depth and breadth that may be beyond the capabilities of General Petraeus, Kilcullen, McMaster, etc. These shortfalls are seemingly inherent in everything we do in Iraq. Where is State? Where are the Arab and Iraqi experts? They won't come? And why is that? What is being done to fix that? Where is the IO and public diplomacy that speaks not their language but their culture?

05-02-2007, 02:56 PM
I put this on the blog but I'll throw it here as well. A humerous look at the "gated community" theory in Iraq. All I want to know is how do I get a timeshare in "Allah Acres"?

http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/player.jhtml?ml_video=85948&ml_collection=&ml_gateway=&ml_gateway_id=&ml_comedian=&ml_runtime=&ml_context=show&ml_origin_url=%2Fshows%2Fthe_colbert_report%2Fvide os%2Fmost_recent%2Findex.jhtml&ml_playlist=&lnk=&is_large=true

05-02-2007, 03:06 PM
Interesting that Colbert actually nails one of the key problems with the concept: the lack of "salesmanship" of the idea before implementation, thus handing AQI an IO win.