Baghdad bombing leaves hole in diplomatic corps
Iraq's Foreign Ministry saw 10 percent of its staff killed or injured. Foreign minister blames systemic security breaches for last week's assault.
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Wednesday's attacks were carried out on the sixth anniversary of the truck bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed UN envoy Sergio Viera de Mello and 22 other UN staff. Before last week's blasts, UN officials had been contemplating moving some of their Iraq operations from neighboring Jordan, where they relocated from Baghdad six years ago. Those moves will likely be halted.Skip to next paragraph
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The bombing and recriminations between Iraqi security forces, government officials, and political parties has exposed the deep tensions that had been overshadowed by Iraqi and US relief over improved security during the past year, which allowed a pullout of American combat troops from Baghdad in June.
Speaking to US Ambassador Christopher Hill at the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, Zebari described the attack as "Iraq's 9/11."
Ambassador Hill, walking around the 12-foot-deep crater where the truck bomb exploded, says he believes the attack was aimed at the heart of Iraqi sovereignty:
"This really is an attack on Iraq's ability to conduct its foreign policy and to be a member of the international community, and blowing up a building and killing people is not going to stop that process."
Zebari, in unusually pointed public comments, said systemic security breaches over the past month had allowed a series of bombings in the north of Iraq and led to Wednesday's attack, in which the truck bomb was able to drive essentially unimpeded through the streets of Baghdad.
Arrests and accusations
Iraqi officials, who almost instantly announced arrests after the attacks, have given conflicting reports about how it was carried out, but all have blamed Baath Party loyalists for planning the bombing and Al Qaeda operatives for carrying it out.
Eleven Iraqi security commanders responsible for the areas in which the attacks occurred are being held for suspected negligence and possible collaboration.
On Sunday, an Iraqi security spokesman broadcast on TV a taped confession of what he called the mastermind of the Finance Ministry bombing. The man, who appeared strangely composed, said he was a former police officer in Diyala Province and a member of the banned Baath party. He said he'd orchestrated the bombing with an Iraqi Baath leader in Syria.
The governor of Baghdad on Sunday, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party, told the Monitor authorities were considering arresting some Sunni members of parliament who may have ordered the attack, a potentially politically explosive move.
The Defense Ministry, in charge of the Army, and the Interior Ministry, responsible for police, have traded accusations over who was responsible for the security breach.
Iraqi ministries are divided among various political parties under a power-sharing agreement first overseen by the US. Four days after the attack, Prime Minister Maliki had neither visited the site of the Foreign Ministry blast, nor sent a senior representative.
The prime minister himself, who has widely been given credit for security gains over the past year, will likely pay part of the political price for the bombings.
On Monday, one of his main coalition partners, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, said it would form a new coalition for elections in January that did not include the Dawa party, which is also Shiite. Maliki has been attempting to form a broad-based coalition that includes Sunnis and Kurds to expand his power base ahead of elections in January.