US forces hope that the wall will reduce militia attacks, allow for reconstruction.
In the face of ongoing confrontations between US-Iraqi forces and Shiite militias in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, US forces began work this week on a concrete barrier to protect against militia intrusions. Other neighborhoods with such walls have seen marked improvement in the security situation, though some residents credit anti-Al Qaeda groups, which have been targeted by suicide bombers this week.
The New York Times reports that US forces hope that the huge concrete wall will slow the southward spread of militia fighters from the heart of the heavily Shiite neighborhood, which has been a combat zone for the past several weeks as US and Iraqi forces fight members of Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army.
US forces hope that the Iraqi government will be able to restore basic utilities such as water, electricity, and garbage collection to the neighborhood if the wall fulfills its purpose. The Times notes that the US has built other such walls in Baghdad, including around the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah last April, and while initially controversial, they have met with some success.