Monday's car bombs came after a week of attacks on both Sunni and Shiite targets that killed more than 200 – and only days after Iraq's 'most democratic' elections.
Sunni-Shiite tensions are high in Iraq, where Prime Minister Maliki's coalition government partners – particularly one Sunni bloc – accuse him of failing to share power.
A series of bombings across Iraq today belie Iraq's efforts to portray itself as a stable, resurgent power as it prepares to host the annual Arab League summit for the first time since 1990.
Camp Ashraf, home to militants opposed to the Iran regime who are also unpopular in Iraq, faces year-end closure. Some fear there could be violence and even suicide, but there are signs of a negotiated settlement.
Afghan domestic politics revolve more around ethnicity than differences between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam. Bomb blasts may be aimed at confidence in Afghanistan's government.