At Least 140 Dead in Two Days of Bombings
Violence levels in Iraq are still among the lowest since the war in 2003, but in the past month concern has grown that insurgents are trying to regroup and step up their fight to coincide with the U.S. withdrawal.
Many Iraqis say they fear their own security forces will be unable to keep the lid on violence after the U.S. withdrawal. Many Iraqis say violence has increased since the U.S. stepped up efforts to empty its detention facilities, turning some detainees over to the Iraqi government and allowing hundreds of others to go free.
Others have tied the violence to the U.S. turning over control of the Awakening to the Iraqi government. The approximately 100,000 members of neighborhood Sunni militias who turned against the insurgency to side with the U.S. are widely credited with helping tamp down violence in Iraq, but in recent months tensions have mounted due to the Iraqi government's failure to pay salaries on time and the arrests of prominent Awakening leaders.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have blamed a variety of factors for the increase in violence. Insurgents may be trying to marshal what is left of their forces and resources to escalate attacks ahead of the U.S. deadline to pull out of Iraqi cities, which would allow them to claim they drove the U.S. forces out. Insurgents may also be an attempt to influence coming parliament elections this December, by making Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government look weak, ineffectual, and unable to keep the peace.It's too early to tell what the pattern is at this point. With US forces withdrawing from the cities, it could be likely that this gives terrorist networks room to repeat the Samarra strategy (it certainly has its modus operandi) that we talked about yesterday. One American officer offers some flippant (but probably true) advice, noting that there's usually a spike in violence in March and April.
It's also worth noting that, compared to Iraq pre-surge, this is actually mild, believe it or not.
Iraq is fragile, to be certain, and I have my fears about their society's ability to weather Black Swan events.