Checkpoints Pop Up Across Kandahar as US Urges Residents to Have Retina Scans

US Hopes to Shoehorn Baghdad Checkpoint Strategy on Kandahar

by Jason Ditz, August 03, 2010

Virtually overnight, the ancient city of Kandahar has turned into a walled collection of neighborhoods, with military run checkpoints separating virtually every neighborhood in what is being called an attempt to copy the “Baghdad strategy.

The giant concrete walls and checkpoints were largely tolerated in Baghdad, however, primarily because they separated ethnically or religiously distinct neighborhoods through which little cross traffic happened. In Kandahar, by contrast, virtually everyone in Pashtun and Sunni, and these barriers of separation appear more than a little random.

But if the random checkpoints, through which travel is only possible with official permission, was not enough to sour Kandaharis on the NATO mission, US officials are also pressuring residents to sign up for a new national ID card, and to have their retinas scanned and fingerprints reported.

This might seem a tad heavy-handed in some cities, and downright Orwellian in others. In Kandahar, which has one of the most corrupt provincial governments on the planet, cooperating with these requests must seem suicidal.

Most polls have shown just a scant minority of Kandahar residents supporting the NATO occupation, with another tiny minority supporting the Taliban and most distrusting both factions. The new measures seem unlikely to convince these people that the NATO forces are any more trustworthy than they were before.

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