“Ever since last week, not a day has gone past without them coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols,” said Imad Ahmed, a shopkeeper in the Sunni district of Adel in west Baghdad.
“They say they will crush the Isis terrorists and anyone who stands in the way of the Shia, but these guys are nowhere near the frontline. This is just designed to intimidate us.”
Rather like Belfast’s Orange parades, the militiamen have no compunction about driving through neighbourhoods already stained by past sectarian bloodshed.
Whoopsie. Sense of proportion in comparison failure. Or perhaps part of a long history of false comparisons between Belfast and Baghdad that have not served the British and their Allies particularly well in Iraq.
Baghdad now has Peace Walls courtesy of the Northern Ireland experience, on the principle of “security first and then we can normalise and build”.
The time limits on western patience with the ‘build’ stage ran out with the electoral term of George Bush, but the tendency to borrow over heavily from Belfast’s sticking plaster peace continues.
Roy Greenslade (possibly more with Belfast’s ongoing tribal war in mind than Baghdad’s) however wholeheartedly approves of the analogy and seems to consider the PCC has an easy task ahead of it.
There is a difference, and quite a substantial difference, between a ceremonial marching route, in some cases micro regulated by statute, and the terrific events currently underway in Iraq.
However we patiently await the PCC’s judgement, with interest.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty