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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 both of what they have become in the five years since the fall of Saddam Hussein, and of what they have yet to achieve.
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“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, but more in the sense of the forbidden and dominating than of the alluring and liberating.
“What does it say to Iraqis that we cannot walk along a beautiful part of the river in our own land because of this big American place?” says Qasim Sabti, an Iraqi artist and Baghdad gallery owner. “But it shows us something else about our own government,” he adds. “At least the Americans could build this thing, but we Iraqis have no new buildings or streets, everything is destroyed - but still the corruption is so great that the money goes into pockets before it can build something new.”
Other Iraqis say the embassy highlights the long-term interests the US has in both Iraq and the region.
“If it is so big, it is a reflection of the size of the designs they have for Iraq and the Middle East,” says Maimoon al-Khaldi, an actor and professor at Baghdad’s Fine Arts Academy. “It is a sign of their energy agenda and of their security agenda in this region,” he adds. “This building faces the Iraqis, yes, but also the Iranians they have declared to be their enemies.”
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
Originally posted by RabbitChaser
This is absolutely ridiculous. And how long do we really think it will remain in 'one piece'? Certainly assured, we will never leave.
The $740 million compound - expected to cost more than $1 billion a year to operate - was originally expected to cost $600 million to build and was to open in September 2007. Design changes and faulty construction caused repeated delays.