Suicide car bombing in Baghdad underscores spike in Iraq violence
A suicide car bombing at a Baghdad funeral procession comes amid growing questions about the ability of Iraq security forces to contain violence that has killed more than 200 since last month.
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The attack Friday was the deadliest in a month and came as part of a wave of attacks that has left more than 200 people dead since US forces withdrew on Dec. 18, reports Al Jazeera. Amid the violence, concerns are mounting that Iraq’s security force may be unable to control the situation.
Those present for Friday’s bombing, which occurred outside a hospital in east Baghdad, say it left behind a gruesome scene. In addition to the death toll, several nearby shops and houses were burned or destroyed, windows shattered, while an ambulance and multiple cars were completely burned out, according to Agence France-Presse.
"I saw a yellow taxi going in the direction of the funeral procession, and then it exploded," said Ayman Rabiyah, an employee of the Baghdad municipality.
As violence and political tension continue to mar daily life in Iraq, President Obama's response is becoming something of a political issue, especially as he prepares to make his bid for reelection.
“On the right, the withdrawal has been a gift, an opportunity to now hold Mr. Obama responsible for anything which goes wrong in Iraq over the next year and to frame him as weak on national security,” writes Marc Lynch on his Foreign Policy blog. Still, he adds, for many Americans, Iraq has completely dropped off the map. “Iraq dominated the foreign policy debate for years, but at this point very few people care. It barely shows up in public opinion surveys as a concern of voters, and stories about Iraq rarely even make it into the media anymore.”
While serious concerns will no doubt plague Iraq for the foreseeable future, Middle East expert Juan Cole writes in his blog, the Informed Comment, that ending the war in Iraq cannot be seen as “anything other than a success.” Obama, however, has been reluctant to take a strong position on ending the war, which Mr. Cole says could cause some observers to overlook the accomplishment.
“Ending the war is indeed a great achievement, but Obama may not get so much credit for it because he is too conflicted over the episode to take strong stances,” he writes.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged the country’s central government to “act like a democracy” this week. In addition to numerous attacks, the country has seen considerable political turmoil after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of many of his political opponents.
“It is indeed unlikely that Clinton really objects to Maliki’s tactics so much as his inefficiency in ‘acting like’ a democrat, an effort which has not only failed to fool anyone but has also drawn him international scorn for his widespread use of torture and shocking number of executions,” writes Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com.