Today, the United States “suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials throughout Iraq, except in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.”
The move comes days after Blackwater USA was “allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade.” From the State Department’s notice:
In light of a serious security incident involving a U.S. embassy protective detail in the Mansour District of Baghdad, the embassy has suspended official U.S. government civilian ground movements outside the International Zone (IZ) and throughout Iraq. [...]
This suspension is in effect in order to assess mission security and procedures, as well as a possible increased threat to personnel traveling with security details outside the International Zone.
In March, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed, “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” Since that time, according to the Bush administration, the situation in Iraq has dramatically improved. Last week, Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush touted “security gains” in Baghdad.
Yet violence has actually risen since the President’s escalation in January. The situation in Iraq is more dangerous for diplomats as well. The 1,000 State Department employees in Iraq are now required to wear “protective gear,” as attacks have increased within the Green Zone.
U.S. diplomats are also returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder and other “debilitating, stress-related symptoms that have afflicted many U.S. troops.”
So much for leisurely strolls through Baghdad markets.