The deadliest bombings in Iraq since 2007 struck
Baghdad on Sunday, as two synchronized car bombs killed
147, wounded over 500, and destroyed the Ministry of Justice, the
Ministry of Public Works, and the Baghdad governor's office. The attacks are seen as efforts to disrupt planning for the January elections and derail the country's burgeoning democracy. With American strategic attention increasingly preoccupied
with Afghanistan and its possible runoff
November election, have we forgotten about Iraq? In the wake of these devastating
attacks, the war once considered primed for American withdrawal is under reevaluation.
- Why Iraq Still Matters The New York Times's Thomas Friedman explained just a few days ago:
Watching Iraqi politics is like watching a tightrope artist
crossing a dangerous cavern. At every step it looks as though he is
going to fall into the abyss, and yet, somehow, he continues to wobble
forward. Nothing is easy when trying to transform a country brutalized
by three decades of cruel dictatorship. It is one step, one election,
one new law, at a time. Each is a struggle. Each is crucial. This
next step is particularly important, which is why we cannot let
Afghanistan distract U.S. diplomats from Iraq. Remember: Transform Iraq
and it will impact the whole Arab-Muslim world. Change Afghanistan and
you just change Afghanistan. [...] Yes, let’s figure out Afghanistan. But let’s not forget that something
very important — but so fragile and tentative — is still playing out in
Iraq, and we and our allies still need to help bring it to fruition.
- Long View, Causes for Optimism The Washington Post's David Ignatius relays reassuring optimism
from Baghdad. "It was the worst day of violence this year, and it was,
terrorists intended, a reminder of the fragility of Iraqi security.
[...] But my Iraqi friends were surprisingly upbeat about the future,
after Sunday's terrible bombings. 'In every sector, Iraq is coming back
to its normal mode,' said one. 'There is no way it will slip back,'
insisted the other," Ignatius writes. "I asked later if [Centcom
commander David Petraeus] thought Sunday's violence would lead people
request that American troops return to the cities, and he shook his
head: 'Iraq is a sovereign country. Iraqis will respond to this.'"
- Why Iraq Won't Stabilize Under U.S. The Guardian's Sami Ramadani scoffs at notions of a saved Iraq. "But try to tell Iraqis who are not part of the ruling circles that
their situation has improved since the occupation and they will remind
you not only of the countless dead and injured but also of the
million-plus orphans and widows, the 2 million who fled the country,
and the 2 million internal refugees, most of whom live in dreadful
squalor," he writes. "While Iraq and its people continue to suffer, with most of the western
media ignoring their plight, President Obama is still pursuing
President Bush's goal in Iraq – to have a government in Baghdad that is
closely allied to the US. This is incompatible with bringing about a
stable, peaceful and democratic Iraq. What US strategists have yet to
learn is that the Iraqi people will not freely accept a pro-US regime
in Baghdad and that the "exit strategy" will inevitably result in
long-term occupation, and bring only more bloodshed and destruction."
- Iraq Still a Work in Progress The Times of London's Patrick Cockburn cautions against despair, but reminds us why violence will continue. "There is no need to imagine that the slaughter in Haifa Street
yesterday was because American troops withdrew from the cities of Iraq
three months ago. With or without US troops, the bombers have been able
to get through in Baghdad ever since they destroyed the UN headquarters
in 2003," he writes. "The main problem in Iraq is that there is no fundamental agreement
between the three main communities: the Shia, the Sunni Arabs and the
Kurds. Each group is still looking for the weak points of the others."
- Danger of Iraq-Syria War Middle East expert Juan Cole worries
what this could inspire in Washington and Baghdad. This is not "a
pretext for delaying US
troop withdrawal," he writes. "These sorts of attacks happened all the
time when the
US troops were patrolling Baghdad, and they only ever were stopped by
extreme measures that were impractical for the long run, such as
walling off whole neighborhoods and producing 80 percent unemployment."
Cole also warns that "[Iraqi Prime Minister] Nuri al-Maliki will
attempt to deflect any blame for the
blasts onto Syria, which he views as harboring Baathist elements who
plan these attacks out. Shaky revolutionary regimes like that of
Baghdad often go to war to shore themselves up, and Iraq-Syria border
clashes are not impossible."
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