[lit-ideas] ethnic cleansing and the surge

  • From: "Julie Krueger" <juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 22:38:26 -0500

Satellite images show ethnic cleanout in Iraq

By Maggie Fox, Health
and Science EditorPosted 2008/09/19 at 4:19 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, Sep. 19, 2008 (Reuters) — Satellite images taken at night show
heavily Sunni Arab neighborhoods of
Baghdad<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/baghdad/>began emptying
before a U.S. troop surge in 2007, graphic evidence of ethnic
cleansing that preceded a drop in violence, according to a report published
on Friday.
The images support the view of international refugee organizations and
Iraq<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/iraq/>experts that a major
population shift was a key factor in the decline in
sectarian violence, particularly in the Iraqi capital, the epicenter of the
bloodletting in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

Minority Sunni Arabs were driven out of many neighborhoods by Shi'ite
militants enraged by the bombing of the
Samarra<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/samarra/>mosque in
February 2006. The bombing, blamed on the Sunni militant group al
Qaeda <http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/al_qaeda/>, sparked a wave of
sectarian violence.

"By the launch of the surge, many of the targets of conflict had either been
killed or fled the country, and they turned off the lights when they left,"
geography professor John
Agnew<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/john_agnew/>of the
Angeles <http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/los_angeles/>, who led the
study, said in a statement.

*"Essentially, our interpretation is that violence has declined in Baghdad
because of intercommunal violence that reached a climax as the surge was
beginning," said Agnew, who studies ethnic conflict.*

Some 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq, while 2 million more have
sought refuge in neighboring
Syria<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/syria/>and Jordan.
Previously religiously mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad became
homogenized Sunni or Shi'ite Muslim enclaves.

The study, published in the journal Environment and Planning A, provides
more evidence of ethnic conflict in Iraq, which peaked just before U.S.
President George W.
Bush<http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/george_w._bush/>ordered the
deployment of about 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

The extent to which the troop build-up helped halt Iraq's slide into
sectarian civil war has been debated, particularly in the United
with supporters of the surge saying it was the main contributing factor, and
others arguing it was simply one of a number of factors.

*"Our findings suggest that the surge has had no observable effect, except
insofar as it has helped to provide a seal of approval for a process of
ethno-sectarian neighborhood homogenization that is now largely achieved,"
Agnew's team wrote in their report.*

Agnew's team used publicly available infrared night imagery from a weather
satellite operated by the U.S. Air

"The overall night light signature of Baghdad since the U.S. invasion
appears to have increased between 2003 and 2006 and then declined
dramatically from 20 March 2006 through 16 December 2007," their report

They said the night lights of Shi'ite-dominated Sadr
constant, as did lights in the Green
Zone <http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/baghdad_green_zone/> government
and diplomatic compound in central Baghdad. Lights increased in the eastern
New Baghdad district, another Shi'ite enclave.

Satellite studies have also been used to help document forced relocations in
Myanmar <http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/myanmar/> and ethnic
cleansing in Uganda <http://www.newsdaily.com/news/science/uganda/>.

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