The last US combat troops leave Iraq Thursday, shifting the American role in the Iraq war from the Pentagon to the State Department, which faces a potentially unprecedented task.
With temperatures of 120 degrees, little electricity, and an expected increase in politically linked religious fervor around the Muslim holy month, Ramadan could bring a spike in Iraq attacks.
Attacks such as Saturday's bombing in Basra will not stop the US's planned drawdown of troops in Iraq, the commander of US forces in Iraq said Sunday.
The need for a new Iraq government was high on the minds of Shiite pilgrims who defied suffocating heat and suicide attacks as they headed toward a Baghdad shrine Wednesday. They are observing the death of an 8th-century imam.
The US and Iraq have spent billions on concrete blast walls and other measures to protect against insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda. But power cuts and rolling blackouts are feeding public discontent over a lack of electricity.
On the first day of summer the temperature has already reached 120 degrees F. in Iraq, with the hottest days yet to come. Faltering electricity, on top of violence and a political vacuum, has plunged many into deeper despair.
Three months after elections, Iraq's parliament met for the first time in a short meeting to swear in new members. Politicians say negotiations on forming a new government could still be months away from completion.
Seventeen gunmen killed 14 people in a series of thefts from a gold jewelry market in Baghdad. The brazen daylight attack was seen as another sign of deteriorating security in Iraq.
A US general said he hasn't ruled out the involvement of militias close to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in recent attacks in Iraq's south and says the movement is reasserting itself as a force in the area.