Iraqis see red as U.S. opens world's biggest embassy
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor
Posted: May 1st, 2008
For the average American who will never see it, the new US Embassy in Baghdad may be little more than the Big Dig of the Tigris. Like the infamous Boston highway project, the embassy is a mammoth development that is overbudget, overdue, and casts a whiff of corruption. For many Iraqis, though, the sand-and-ochre-colored compound peering out across the city from a reedy stretch of riverfront within the fortified Green Zone is an unsettling symbol. "It is a symbol of occupation for the Iraqi people, that is all," says Anouar, a Baghdad graduate student who thought it was risk enough to give her first name. "We see the size of this embassy and we think we will be part of the American plan for our country and our region for many, many years." The 104-acre, 21-building enclave the largest US Embassy in the world, similar in size to Vatican City in Rome is often described as a "castle" by Iraqis. "We all know this big yellow castle, but its main purpose, it seems, is the security of the Americans who will live there," says Sarah, a university sophomore who also declined to give her last name for reasons of personal safety. The US government cleared the new Baghdad Embassy for occupancy last week, with the embassy's 700 employees and up to 250 military personnel expected to move in over the month of May, according to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Embassy personnel have been anxious for the complex, with more than 600 blast-resistant apartments, to open and give them some refuge from the mortar fire that has increasingly targeted the Green Zone this year. Last month, a mortar slammed into one of the unfortified trailers where personnel now sleep, killing an American civilian contractor.
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