Video - Baghdad/Adhamiya, Iraq - Home destructions have been a tool of war almost as long as war has been around. According to Wikipedia, “It has been employed as a scorched earth tactic to deprive an advancing enemy of food and shelter, or to wreck an enemy’s economy and infrastructure. It has also been used for purposes of counter-insurgency and ethnic cleansing. Systematic house demolition has been a notable factor in a number of recent or ongoing conflicts including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Darfur conflict in Sudan, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, the Yugoslav wars and the Caucasian conflicts of the 1990s.”
House demolitions in Adhamiya have been one of many tactics employed by the United States Military in its attempts to quell violence and insurgents in the troubled neighborhood. The tactic of house demolition has been a familiar one to the United States, used as early as 2003 to destroy the homes of suspected insurgents. This tactic was taken from the experience of Israeli Defense Force’ behavior in the West Bank and Gaza.
It’s easy to believe the American forces were acting on what they believed to be noble intentions. In 2003 Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told the USA Today, “If I saw that house go away, I’d feel more secure,” in reference to the destroying the home of a “terrorist across the street“.
Unfortunately Brigadier General Kimmitt was not considering the impact of home destruction in dense urban areas such as Raghiba Khatoon in Adhamiya. In this neighborhood one empty house was demolished, according to neighbors, they were told by US soldiers that the house had bombs inside. Rather than searching the home and clearing the suspected ordnance, Iraqis in the area told Alive in Baghdad the soldiers detonated the home, severely damaging several others in the area.
Adhamiya has been a difficult neighborhood for most of the war. Many important Baathists are from the area, and it is the neighborhood where Saddam last appeared as President of Iraq. However, despite the depiction in much of the media that Adhamiya is a haven of terrorists and insurgents, it is a huge neighborhood, and houses many Iraqis who are tired of the fighting and violence. The impact of the construction of a wall separating Adhamiya from the rest of Baghdad, the violent home searches, and now the apparently accidental destruction of buildings housing dozens of residents, are doing little to develop goodwill.
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