There is no question US forces have done an excellent job of restoring the semblance of law and order to many parts of Baghdad, but the very success of such operations only adds new problems. Fighting has ended in Sadri City but resident feel trapped and uncertain as walls go up and checkpoints established to monitor traffic. Unfortunately, walls and checkpoints only add to the sense of being harassed in one’s own city. As a resident, Abu Ali, put it: “Because of this wall.. this wall of misery, we are living in a prison.. like being in a ghetto.” Although there is no armed conflict now going on, it is still clear the Mahdi army is alive and well armed. Residents know they can not antagonize these insurgents who may one day be completely in charge of Baghdad, particularly if Americans leave.
An urban area containing a wall and numerous checkpoints makes for difficulty in trying to move around, a problem compounded by lack of adequate transportation. People have a tendency to ignore and past and focus on today. In Baghdad today, American forces are responsible for walls and checkpoints and the almost certain minor issues that arise when civilians and military interact.