Pentagon Plans Urban Renewal in Baghdad's Green Zone
The "Tigris Woods Country Club" as envisioned by the Pentagon's planners.
How do you rehabilitate a city that has suffered from half a decade of bombings, lootings, sectarian violence, terrorism, military occupation, large-scale infrastructure failure, curfews and all the horrors of some post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster? According to the Pentagon, pimp it out with the most fantastic amenities that money can buy, and put them all inside one centrally-located, gated waterfront community.
In another strange move by the American authorities in Iraq, plans are underway to transform part of Baghdad's Green Zone - the sprawling military/civilian compound along the Tigris river, currently home to coalition personnel and foreign companies — into a luxurious "International Village," complete with malls, amusement parks, luxury hotels and golf courses.
According to the Guardian, the $5 billion plan, dreamt up by the Pentagon and an "international investment consortium," has already caught the interest of several bigwig investors and companies, including a Saudi sheikh and Marriott International, which has signed up to build a hotel in the complex.
All this begs the question, where will the water come from for the golf course's sprinkler system, not to mention the electricity to power so much not-very-sustainable development? Especially in a city where, as Navy Captain Thomas Karnowski notes,
There is no sewer system, no working power system. Everything here is done on generators. No road repair work. There are no city services other than the minimal amount we provide to get by.
Meanwhile, the new gated community's first grand property, the American embassy, is already under construction. The $1 billion embassy compound, occupying a plot the size of the Vatican, will occupy a prime piece of land along the waterfront. How's that for urban regeneration?
Perhaps one source of inspiration for the new planning scheme came from the spirit and history of the place itself, which in its previous incarnation was also a gated community - containing palaces and villas belonging to Saddam Hussein and his cohorts.
So, how does the Iraqi man in the street feel about all such extravagant plans for the city? Said Baghdad resident Ahmed Hussein to the Guardian with a shrug: "What do I care? I don't have electricity, I don't have fresh water and I don't have a job."
Via:: The Guardian
For more on environmental issues in Iraq, see:
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