'Baghdad Belt' Deals With New Sectarian Tensions

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Arab Jibor, a neighborhood south of Baghdad that is home to a variety of different sects, is part of an area that encompasses the Iraqi capital known as "hizam Baghdad," Arabic for the "Baghdad belt." In this neighborhood, roads are unpaved and winding, surrounded by farms and gardens.

Haj Nasr al-Kaabi, a Shiite farmer who was repairing his house after it was damaged in the armed clashes that took place between al-Qaeda groups and the security forces, told Al-Monitor that home restoration is not an easy task as long as human beings have not first "restored" their souls.

The region has enjoyed stability for the past two years as a result of intensive security campaigns, which were implemented due to the occurrence of sporadic armed sectarian clashes. Those visiting the region in recent times would quickly notice a heavy military presence. Security checkpoints are located every thousand meters, starting from the highway toward the capital Baghdad, where the region ends with a major checkpoint east of the Dora region.

Safaa al-Omari, a citizen who has lived in the area since he was born, told Al-Monitor that the Arab Jibor neighborhood is the Sunni base of the Dora region, where the fiercest sectarian clashes took place between 2005 and 2007

The importance of the region currently lies in that it is part of the "Baghdad belt," which is witnessing continuous security operations as part of a campaign dubbed "revenge of the martyrs," started by the Baghdad Operations Command at the end of last month. This campaign started against the backdrop of attacks carried out by groups linked to al-Qaeda on the Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons on July 21, which resulted in more than 500 prisoners escaping and dozens of security officers dead or wounded.

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