These are dangerous times in Iraq. From the AP, filed within the hour:
“BAGHDAD (AP) — A booby-trapped motorcycle loaded with nails and ball-bearings exploded in a crowded bazaar Friday in Baghdad, killing at least 15 people, Iraqi officials said. The attack struck just four days before the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from cities.
The wave of violence that has killed more than 200 people this week has raised fresh doubts about the ability of Iraqi forces to provide security as their American partners become less visible.
The explosion occurred just after 9 a.m. when the market was packed with young people buying or selling motorcycles in central Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials.
Ghaith Abdul-Allah, 35, was unloading motorcycles he planned to sell from his truck when the blast occurred.
“I saw a ball of fire and some motorbikes were lifted about 10 meters (yards) into the air,” he said. “When the smoke from the explosion vanished, I saw a large number of young men lying on the ground soaked in blood.”
… The escalation in violence is overshadowing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s declaration of a “great victory” in the U.S. pullout from urban areas by Tuesday’s deadline. He has declared June 30 a national holiday to be marked with celebrations.”
Unfortunately, this spate of attacks had to be expected, and there’s not much to be done except ride them out. I doubt they’re occurring because of a real security vacuum created by our departure; those gaps in security will show over time, not all at once. Rather, it represents a coordinated campaign by terrorists to demonstrate their continued relevance at a high-profile moment in Iraq’s transition. They’re trying to send a political message to an Iraqi domestic audience that Maliki’s government is not as strong as it pretends to be.
The Iraqis want their country back, and we need to let them have it, for better or worse.