In a gambit designed to make him appear a strong leader of a proud nation — in advance of a national election, of course — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered some security measures put in place earlier to be discontinued. In particular, he ordered some roads in Baghdad re-opened to vehicle traffic and security barriers discarded.
The street where the blasts occurred had been reopened to vehicle traffic just six months ago. Shortly after, blast walls were repositioned to allow traffic closer to the government buildings — all measures hailed by al-Maliki as a sign that safety was returning to the city.
Helpless civilians have paid for that, as the death toll from two huge blasts yesterday continues to rise.
As the floodwater from broken water mains and sewers drained away, workers continued to hunt for victims amid the wreckage from Sunday’s bomb blasts, recovering still more bodies on Monday as the death toll climbed to as much as 155 — including an uncertain number of children — with more than 500 wounded.
The extent of the damage was even worse than initially feared, with three major government buildings destroyed rather than the two reported in the hours after Sunday’s pair of suicide vehicle bombs.
This tragedy is likely to be followed by calls from U.S. neo-calls for President Obama to delay pulling U.S. troops of of Iraq, even as those same neo-cons demand Obama send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. No. The U.S. should never have invaded Iraq; and we certainly shouldn’t be in the middle of sectarian warfare.
Besides, the Iraqis have asked us to leave. We should, sooner rather than later.