Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iraq Bombings as Background Noise

From the NY Times -   The last bulletin I received upped the count of dead to 35.  As of this moment (9:45 Monday AM), the WaPo had yet to report it on their site.

BAGHDAD — Two explosions struck the town of Taji, north of the Iraqi capital, around midday on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, according to an official at the Interior Ministry.

The target was a municipal building. First a car bomb was detonated in a parking garage, followed by an improvised explosive device. The Interior Ministry official said the initial casualty estimate was 35 killed and 28 wounded.

No group claimed immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but it was in the same style as similar strikes by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which frequently singles out the state infrastructure, including government buildings, police stations, army barracks or security forces on patrol.

As the final months for the American military presence here approach — all troops are scheduled to be out by the end of the year barring a request from the Iraqi government to extend the deadline — the attack Tuesday highlighted the fragile state of security, even eight years after the American invasion.

As Sunni insurgent groups such as Al Qaeda in Iraq continue attacks, Shiite militant groups, including the Promised Day Brigade, which is linked to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, have stepped up attacks against American troops. In June, 14 American soldiers were killed in combat-related incidents, the highest monthly toll since 2008.

On Monday night, a rocket fired at the Green Zone in Baghdad struck near Al Rasheed Hotel, killing three people, according to the Interior Ministry official.

Meanwhile, perhaps the biggest security threat in the heavily fortified capital has been assassinations of government officials and military officers, many dozens of whom have been killed this year by pistols with silencers.

As the violence persists, the problem has been compounded by a political stalemate.

In December, the two politicians, Ayad Allawi, the leader of the Iraqiya bloc, and the country’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, entered into an American-backed power-sharing agreement. But since then, the men have been unable to agree on who should run the Interior and Defense Ministries, the government’s two most important departments.

The United States has been unable to end the stalemate, demonstrating to some analysts and Iraqis its waning influence here.

“The insurgents are taking advantage of this,” said Iskandar Jawad, a member of Parliament’s security committee, said in an interview.

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