Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bush's Telltale Embassy

When it's completed it'll house a staff of 1,000 or more. That's a huge staff for an embassy but the US embassy in Baghdad is huge, Washington's largest embassy anywhere. It comprises 27-buildings and occupies an area larger than the Vatican.

But aren't the Americans planning to leave Iraq? So what gives with the mega-embassy?

"It really is sort of betwixt and between," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations who advises the Defense Department. "It's bigger than it should be if you really expect Iraq to stabilize. It's not as big as it needs to be to be the nerve center of an ongoing war effort."

As the LA Times reports, the very size of the embassy complex has given rise to Iraqi suspicions:

"It's all for them, all of Iraq's resources, water, electricity, security," said Raid Kadhim Kareem, who has watched the buildings go up at a floodlighted site bristling with construction cranes from his post guarding an abandoned home on the other side of the Tigris River. "It's as if it's their country, and we are guests staying here."

"They're not leaving Iraq for a long time," said Hashim Hamad Ali, another guard, who called the compound "a symbol of oppression and injustice."

The embassy buildings are being heavily reinforced and surrounded by massive perimeter security. Even that won't prevent them from becoming a prime target for insurgent mortar and rocket attacks. As a result, Washington is facing enormous reluctance among foreign service workers when it comes to postings to Baghdad.

To be fair and balanced, the embassy complex is within easy range of Shia miltias and Sunni insurgents alike.

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