Reports in both the NYT and WaPo (from AP) on a suicide bombing that claimed as many as 20 lives outside a Baghdad police academy. (Police academies have been favorite - and highly symbolic - targets of bombings for quite a long time now in Iraq.)
The WaPo/AP report rightly plays up the seeming ease with which suicide bombers evade detection by security forces, and also frames the bombing within the context of Iraq's interminably dicey political situation. The NYT's Tim Arango, on the other hand, focuses on how the political situation, in his view, seems to be calming with the return of the Iraqiya delegation to Iraq's parliament. He also notes that February was on course to become Iraq's least violent month in quite awhile - something he again attributes to a supposedly improving political climate.
I might note a few points here:
- a major reason behind Iraqiya's return to parliament is that its current deliberations are about the budget. Iraqiya needed to return if only to do all it can to get as big a slice of that pie as possible. That hardly signals an impending political kumbaya party.
- Sunni politician (and Iraq vice-president) Tariq al-Hashemi, whom Iraq PM al-Maliki has accused of terrorism against the state, continues to cling to sanctuary in Kurdistan, where he hopes to remain under the protective umbrella of the Kurdish Regional Government and out of the reach of Maliki's security forces. That ought to tell you all you need to know about the state of Iraqi "unity" and "nationhood," or the supposed easing of political tensions.
- Arango might have done well to ponder whether the recent decrease in violence in Iraq might be due, not to any easing of tensions, but to the possibility that the Sunni extremists who likely are behind this and earlier bombings are re-focusing their efforts across the border, in Syria, where the Alawi-based (read: Shii) Assad regime is increasingly beleaguered by a popular uprising that is significantly propelled by sectarian animosities. That's a situation tailor-made for al-Qaeda-type jihadists, whose agenda includes the eradication of Shii regimes, especially those (like the Assad regime) that at least putatively embrace a secular-nationalist agenda.