Trial of Baghdad

Baghdad’s sufferings refuse to abate. It has yet again witnessed a series of orchestrated attacks that killed over a hundred people.

They confirm that security is not yet unbreachable. In fact, even high security government buildings inside the Green Zone in the capital have been targeted, painting a grim picture of fragility. With elections scheduled for the first quarter of next year, the coming months are likely to see an escalation of violence. It brings us to the possibility that the withdrawal of US troop, expected to be complete by 2010 end, will fall into delay if the state of affairs continues.

The latest instance includes co-ordinated attacks near the Interior ministry and the Ministry of Social Affairs, among others. These included a police patrol, a university and an art institute. So much for the message to the government. The inclusion of soft targets such as education institutions, clearly aims to spread the message to civilians. The recent targeting of a school in Baghdad confirms the trend.

A bigger goal could also be to have the people reject the current leadership in the coming election. The success enjoyed by Prime Minister Nour ul Maliki’s bloc in the local council elections held earlier this year was based on popular support and represented a vote for security. The Iraqi people had not voted for ideology-based politics.

While no one has yet claimed responsibility, it is certain is that the objective is to derail the fragile security that has been painstakingly put in place. Al Qaeda affiliated groups had taken a battering when Iraqi resistance comprising Sunni parties had disassociated on seeing the brutality unleashed against civilians. Having successfully rejected violence against civilians, both the Sunni groups and Shia militias sought to redefine Iraq’s security. Iraq may have come a long way from a few years back when each day ushered in a new high in violence, but it does face a challenge in countering myriad sleeper cells that have proliferated underground.

With the recent passing of a controversial election law, Iraqi politics was poised to enter a new phase. In resolving differences between its sectarian groups the aim was to work towards a stronger political system. Any further lapse in security, often been blamed on external states, could affect the elections. It is vital that the government and US forces put in place stringent practices to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

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