The New York Times reported yesterday on the coordinated bombings that are appearing on a more frequent basis in Baghdad.
- Insurgents unleashed attacks across Baghdad on Tuesday night, setting off more than a dozen coordinated bombs in a bloody declaration of their ability to thwart the government’s efforts to secure Iraq’s largest and most important city. It was among the fiercest assaults on the capital since the United States invaded in 2003, and one that tore across divisions of sect and class. The explosions — devastating car bombs and roadside blasts — struck the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, a Sunni mosque, public squares, a crowded restaurant in the north of Baghdad and middle-class shopping districts.
- At least 63 people were killed and about 285 were wounded, and the local police said they were under orders to enforce an emergency curfew — the first such measure in years. But some police officers told residents that the curfew had not yet taken effect, while government officials would not confirm that one had been imposed. “It was just storm and fire,” said Ahmed Said, 22, who said he was stirring his tea and ordering flavored tobacco at a cafe when he was hurled into the air. Coming two days after a deadly siege of a Christian church in Baghdad, the attacks added to a creeping sense that security in the capital was teetering as Iraq prepared to complete eight months of political stalemate without a new government. Ministers and spokesmen from the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki quickly appeared on television to assure Iraqis that they were in charge and that the capital remained under control. State-run television said Mr. Maliki was touring the attack sites and visiting victims in the hospital.
- There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks, but the United States military said the bombings were characteristic of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. A spokesman added that the Iraqi military had not asked for American assistance. In an interview hours before the attacks, Brig. Gen. Ralph Baker, the deputy American commander in Baghdad, expressed concern that the lingering deadlock could undermine popular confidence in the government at the same time that militant groups continued to try to draw fresh blood. “We’ve seen the insurgent groups and the terror groups step up their attack against the people,” he said. “The motive is intimidation.” Still, he noted that violence over all throughout the country had fallen sharply from its worst days, and said, “We haven’t seen a degradation in the security environment.” The United States ended its formal combat mission over the summer, and plans to continue to withdraw troops over the next year.
- Church massacres, indiscriminate bombings, and coordinated attacks targeting all sects and class in Iraq is not a “degradation of the security environment” in Iraq. That’s what the US deputy commander in Baghdad said. Maybe there is a new definition of “degradation” that we are not aware of? But maybe it is because US troopers are not being currently targeted by AQM. I guess when that new calculus returns the General will be able to properly use the term “degradation” again.