Friday, January 21, 2011

Maybe if he had filled his cabinet . . .

Yesterday's Karbala bombings continued the string of deadly attacks in Iraq. Ali Qeis and Liz Sly (Washington Post) report, "Despite initial reports that the bombings were suicide attacks, investigations showed that they were not, [Maj. Alaa al-] Ghanemi said. Two parked cars and a motorcycle had been rigged with explosives and detonated within quick succession in the three locations, he said." If true, that's even more damning for Nouri al-Maliki. See, when you're dealing with someone willing to take their own life, a considerable segment of the public will see that person as irrational and/or insane and they will allow that there's little you can do to put up prevention obstacles that would halt those people (that once they're in that stage, it's too late). But this wasn't someone waiting until the last minutes to run out among a crowd.

If these bombings were as al-Ghanemi describes, then they were planned ahead of time -- well thought out indicating not just a level or precision but a level of rationality -- and since they were done ahead of time, they should have been prevented by extra security measure which should have been taken due to the religious holiday and the knowledge that over a million Shi'ite pilgrims would be taking part in the religious observation. That steps were not taken reflects very poorly on Nouri. John Leland (New York Times) offers, "The annual pilgrimage, banned under Saddam Hussein, is expected to draw as many as 10 million people this year to the city of Karbala over 10 days. It has long been a target of sectarian violence. Until this week, the holiday had been free of major bloodshed, and Iraqi security forces had claimed progress in their ability to protect the populace from violent extremist groups." Those numbers, and the holiday itself, argue for governmental anticipation and preparation.

Tracey Shelton (Asia Times) offers:

Some blame the recent uptick in violence on the nascent administration that has yet to fill its top security slots, namely the ministers of defense, interior and security. There have been allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is keeping the posts for close confidantes, but others say the same partisan bickering that kept a government from solidifying for 10 months is preventing the appointments of these ministers - and endangering the public.
[. . .]
According to senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, among others who spoke to Asia Times Online, the clear instigator of these crimes is al-Qaeda and its affiliate ISA. However, as Othman pointed out: "They are supported by elements inside the security apparatus."
The claim of collusion within the ranks of the yet unformed government has become a rallying cry for Maliki's opposition - the Iraqiya bloc of mostly secular Iraqis and Sunnis led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
Iraqiya's chief security advisor, Hani Ashor, said many Iraqis have already been murdered due to intelligence leaks within their own government. He and other politicians are calling for the fast-tracking of appointments for the security portfolios.

CNN has a photo essay of the post-bombings scene here.

The following community sites -- plus Jane Fonda, Iraq Inquiry Digest, Socialist Worker and World Can't Wait -- updated last night and today:

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