A series of four bombings hit Baghdad in quick succession on Tuesday, killing at least 103 people and wounding more than 190. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, Iraqi government officials speculate that the attacks were aimed to rattle public trust in the government ahead of general elections in February. Just two days ago, the Iraqi parliament passed a key law that will facilitate elections.
The explosions targeted multiple government buildings throughout the capital, including the Ministry of Interior building, a training academy for judges, and a police patrol. This is the third major multiple car bomb attack in Baghdad since August. While overall violence has declined in the past 18 months, small-scale bombings have occurred consistently throughout the capital.
For Iraqi government officials who have touted the country's security gains, the attacks come as an "embarrassment," reports Al Jazeera. Though security has been heightened in preparation for the elections, one Iraqi government official told Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr that there are still serious concerns that insurgents continue to infiltrate Iraqi security forces.
Historically, elections have proved a contentious time for Iraqis as insurgents attempt to stop the public from going to the polls and supporting the government. While January's provincial elections went off almost without incident, these most recent attacks could raise alarm about the forthcoming general election. Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told the BBC that he blames Al Qaeda for the recent attacks.
The political fallout from Tuesday's attacks could prove most difficult for Mr. Maliki, who is up for reelection in February. The prime minister has marketed himself as one of the key people responsible for Iraq's security gains, and he also promised security after US troops pull out. Now, the Australian Broadcast Corp. reports that he will "once again have to explain how so many large devices reached such high-profile and public targets."
Despite this most recent attack, violence across Iraq last month dropped to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion with 122 people killed during the month of November, reports the Times of London. Still, US military officials and Iraqi leaders warn that violence will probably climb in the lead up to the election.
Aside from the elections, there was some concern that the bombings could disrupt the auction of 10 untapped oil fields in Iraq, reports the Guardian. However, Iraqi officials have asserted that the auction will continue as planned this Friday and Saturday with international companies arriving in Baghdad to bid on 20-year service contracts for the 10 oilfields, according to Reuters.