Monday, January 29, 2007

Sizing Up the Baghdad Conurbation II

Not having a back-of-the-hand knowledge of Iraqi geography, I often find news reports that reference towns and cities without adequate graphics to be hard to judge.

It's been hard to find decent maps of Baghdad, ones that are easily usable. Here is my ongoing effort to add dimension to empower readers. (By the way, if you don't know what a "conurbation" is perhaps that's enough to inspire a budding geographer).

The General Areas

Basic Ethnicities:
* Adhamiyah: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.

A majority Sunni area on the eastern side of the Tigris River, A'dhamiyah is home to the shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa, an eighth century Sunni scholar, and the Imam al Adham mosque, built above the shrine and for whom A'dhamiyah is named. Under Saddam Hussein, A'dhamiyah was considered one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Baghdad, home to political leaders, professionals and business people. During the first days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein was believed to be hiding in A'dhamiyah before heading north to his hometown of Tikrit. Today, A'dhamiyah still is considered a middle class Sunni neighborhood, with minority Shiites being rapidly expelled. And, despite the establishment of a neighborhood patrol, attacks are frequently carried out on Iraqi security forces and American troops in the area.-PBS News (date unknown)

* al-Kadhimya: Shiite majority.
Kadhimiyah is considered one of the safest and most peaceful areas of Baghdad. The shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim located here is heavily protected and the neighborhood is home to a large American military base. A mostly residential area, Kadhimiyah is second only to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to Shiites. According to Iraqis living in Baghdad, few outsiders venture into Kadhimiyah because of its location to the north, its relatively small size and generations of families helping keep it safe. In August 2005, the bridge connecting Kadhimiyah to Adhamiyah across the Tigris River was the scene of a deadly stampede that killed an estimated 1,000 people. Once a highly cosmopolitan area of the city with predominantly Shiites and some Sunni professionals living harmoniously, few Sunnis remain.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Karrada: Shiite majority, Christian presence.
One of Baghdad's most upscale neighborhoods, Karrada sits in the southeastern part of Baghdad where the Tigris River bends and forms a horseshoe before heading south. The neighborhood is almost fully surrounded by the river and has infrastructure in good condition, some office buildings, banks and stores, along with some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Baghdad. Considered a culturally mixed, cosmopolitan area with a variety of writers, artists and intellectuals, Karrada is home to mostly Shiites, many Sunnis and pockets of Christians, but also foreigners. Though thought of as a generally safe area, the neighborhood has witnessed several car bombings, and in March 2004 was the site of a deadly bombing at the Jabal Lebanon hotel that killed 27 people.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Al-Mansour: Mixed area.
Saddam Hussein's son, Uday Hussein, lived in the Mansour district, an upper class area of Baghdad. In the 1990s, Uday was known to cruise the streets of the neighborhood scouting for young women. An attempt was made on Uday's life in 1996 -- his Porche was riddled with bullets and he was shot 17 times -- some say at the hands of the family of a young girl he had raped. Others say residents of Dujail, a town north of Baghdad where 148 Shiites were massacred in 1982, were the would-be assassins. Under Saddam, Mansour was home to artists, writers, business people and military officers. In 2003, during the toppling of Baghdad, the Al Jazeera news network accused the U.S. military of protecting the Ministry of Oil, located in Mansour, while letting other parts of the city burn. Today, parts of Mansour lie in the coalition-controlled Green Zone, and the area, once home to foreign embassies, boasts the best infrastructure in Baghdad.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Dora: Mixed area.
Famous for housing one of the largest oil refineries in Iraq, Dora is a mixed Sunni, Christian neighborhood with a Shiite minority. Since 2005, Sunni extremists have worked to expel Shiites from the neighborhood, drawing retaliation from armed Shiites who entered the neighborhood from other Shiite strongholds to provide protection. One of the main areas of conflict in Baghdad, Dora has been the site of bloody clashes between insurgents and American troops. The area also has seen a slew of abductions, bombings and assassinations.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Baghdad Al-Jadida (New Baghdad): Shiite majority, Christian presence.
Called New Baghdad in English, Baghdad al-Jadida was created in the 1950s under a land expansion program and was populated by mainly middle class, working Baghdadis. Residents were salaried bureaucrats, many educated and working for the government. Today, Baghdad al-Jadida is a mixed Shiite-Sunni area with a Shiite majority and a small population of Christians. The area is residential, lightly industrial with family-owned businesses that cater to the neighborhood. Residents typically bus to central Baghdad for work. The neighborhood, considered relatively safe, was the site of a suicide bombing at a crowded gas station in February 2006 that killed 23 people and wounded 51.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Sadr City [Thawra]: Almost exclusively Shiite.
A Shiite slum of some 2 million people in the northwest section of Baghdad, Sadr City, once called Saddam City, was renamed for a prominent Shiite religious family after the dictator's fall. The area was built in the late 1950s, part of a scheme carried out by Iraq's first dictator Abdul Karim Qasim. At that time, poverty-stricken residents were given tents as homes. They served as the labor force for the rest of Baghdad. The area was once the headquarters of the Sadr Foundation, a religious organization headed by Grand Ayatollah Muhammad al Sadr, father of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr. The organization ran hospitals and provided services for the poor. Today, Sadr City residents, who still live in extreme poverty, have concrete homes and running water but little in the way of infrastructure -- the worst in Baghdad, according to many. The area is the stronghold of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. In November 2006, Sadr City was the scene of one of the worst bombings in Iraq's history. The bombings -- a series of attacks that killed more than 200 people -- led to a five-day curfew.-PBS News (date unknown)

* Hurriya City [near "Kadymiha" in general pic above]: Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Hurriya City is mainly Shiite with a small Sunni population that is quickly disappearing. The area, like Shu'la and Sadr City, is a stronghold of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Socioeconomic conditions are poor as is the infrastructure. Hurriya is a lower middle-class, residential neighborhood that along with Sadr City and Shu'la comprises nearly half of Baghdad's population.-PBS News (date unknown)

* al Shula [South-eastern part of "Kadymiha" in general pic above]
Shu'la is another Shiite enclave that has witnessed the mass expulsion of its small Sunni population. Like Sadr City and Hurriya, Shu'la is controlled by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The area is poor and considered a slum by most Baghdad residents. In Iraq's first election since Saddam Hussein's ouster, residents of Shu'la voted largely for the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance in 2005.-PBS News (date unknown)

Ad-hoc map of ethnic mixes:

Population estimates of major areas:

Major CitiesGovernatePopulation
Baghdad Conurbation
Karradah Sharqiyah235,554
Abu Ghurayb
Sadr City
Other Cities
2MosulNineveh / Ninawa664,2211,739,000
10HillaBabylon [Babil]268,834524,000
11Ramadiyah [Ar Ramadi]Al-Anbar192,556423,000
15Ba'qubahDiyala 280,000
17Samarra'Salah ad-Din201,000
18Az ZubayrBasrah168,000
19Tall 'AfarNineveh / Ninawa155,000
23as-SatrahDiyala 83,000
Ad Duluiyah50,000
TikritSalah ad-Din28,000

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