Sunday, October 25, 2009

Implications of today's horrific bombing in Baghdad

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid provide accounts of today's bombing of two government buildings in downtown Baghdad.  At least 130 people have been killed, with as many as 500  injured/maimed.  Spokesmen for al-Maliki's government are pointing the government's finger at al-Qaeda in Iraq as well as Baath die-hards.

I expect a number of consequences, among them:
  • damage to al-Maliki's election hopes, as he's been running on his record of increasing security in the country.  That bombers could set off such a coordinated attack near government ministries (again!) is a not a predictor of future success.
  • a crackdown by al-Maliki's security forces against suspected Sunni insurgents - who may include former Sunni Awakening members who've already been hit hard, and are feeling betrayed by their erstwhile US military patrons.  It's also commonly known that al-Maliki's people routinely engage in torture -  something that I don't believe Thomas Friedman takes note of in his paean to al-Maliki, who granted Friedman an interview during his recent visit to DC.  In fact, Friedman even quotes him as saying “Saddam ruled for more than 35 years.  We need one or two generations brought up on democracy and human rights to get rid of this orientation.”
  • pressure on Mr. Obama to slow the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, and at a time when the US military desperately needs to rest and re-tool soldiers who are destined for redeployment to Afghanistan.
  • perhaps, some pressure to postpone the Iraqi elections, which are set for January, but are being held up now because of the parliament's failure to pass an election law.  However, the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most esteemed leader of Iraq's Shii, has so far been insisting that there must be no delay.

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