A series of Baghdad bombings renew fears of sectarian crisis

A series of Baghdad bombings renew fears of sectarian crisis At least 63 people have been killed and up to 194 wounded in a series of as many as 14 seemingly coordinated bombings across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attacks occurred just days after the final departure of U.S. troops and amid recent accusations ...

A series of Baghdad bombings renew fears of sectarian crisis

A series of Baghdad bombings renew fears of sectarian crisis

At least 63 people have been killed and up to 194 wounded in a series of as many as 14 seemingly coordinated bombings across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attacks occurred just days after the final departure of U.S. troops and amid recent accusations by the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was implicated in several assassinations, inciting sectarian tensions. Hashemi has denied the charges and is being protected by the Kurdish regional government, while his main Sunni bloc of parliament, the al-Iraqiyya group, has walked out of the government in protest at the accusations. The attacks included four car bombs and 10 roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and were concentrated mostly in Shiite neighborhoods. In response, Prime Minister Maliki said: “The timing of these crimes and the places where they were carried out confirm to all…the political nature of the targets.” No one has taken responsibility for the bombings, however some analysts believe that al Qaeda is the only group in Iraq capable of pulling off such an attack.

Headlines  

  • International leaders condemned the Syrian regime for one of its deadliest assaults in the northwestern province of Idlib prior to the arrival of Arab League monitors.
  • Egypt remains calm as voting continues in the second phase of elections; meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood announced its commitment to the proposed presidential election timetable.
  • After the French parliament passed a law criminalizing the denial of Armenian “genocide”, Turkey has threatened to cut diplomatic and economic ties.
  • Hamas has moved to join the Palestinian Liberation Organization amidst the ongoing unity talks with Fatah, where they are expected to sign a reconciliation accord and discuss elections and PLO restructuring.
  • Israel responded that European countries are “meddling in Israel’s domestic affairs” after a condemnation of settlements at the U.N. Security Council. 

Daily Snapshot

Cars with shattered windows are parked in a street after a wave of attacks in Baghdad killed scores of people on December 22, 2011. The apparently coordinated blasts were the first major sign of violence in a row that has threatened Iraq’s fragile political truce and heightened sectarian tensions just days after US forces completed their withdrawal (SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments and Analysis

‘Whose Egypt’ (Adam Shatz, London Review of Books)
“Washington isn’t likely to withdraw its support from the Scaf unless its tactics incite protests that put American interests at risk. The Scaf’s position is by no means assured, so long as Tahrir Square remains a rival to its legitimacy. The protesters are fractured but still vigorous; the Brothers seem determined to fight the Scaf’s efforts to clip its wings. Together they have had some success in forcing the military’s hand. Whether they can persuade it to make way for civilian governance remains to be seen. But if their efforts are crushed, with tacit American support, further unrest could explode, and the Scaf will not be the only target of popular anger.”

‘Don’t stop at Iraq: Why the U.S. should withdraw from the entire Persian Gulf’ (Toby Jones, The Atlantic)
“Given its global reach, the United States will always retain the capacity to project military power, but the terms should be limited. The challenge is less about finding friendly ports to station personnel than it is about charting clearer and more effective terms of political engagement with allies and rivals. And this requires a new strategic doctrine, one that makes clear to regional actors that the era of open security guarantees — which have proven so dear to both Americans and to the hundreds of thousands who have died since the United States began its military build-up — is over. This would not mean the loss of leverage or influence, but in fact the opposite.”

‘Iraqi Kurdistan is booming. Will it ever become a separate state?’ (Larry Diamond, The New Republic)
“Though their power-sharing arrangement can appear corrupt and stifling to anyone not a member, in the 2009 regional elections the ruling coalition squeaked by with just 60 percent while facing a fresh opposition list called Gorran, Kurdish for “change.” In Kurdistan today, there is a freer and more open-though far from perfect-climate for expression than in Iraq as a whole. Kurdistan, in short, is doing so much better than the rest of Iraq that it’s perfectly logical for its citizens to wonder why they can’t simply head out on their own as an independent nation-as they have long aspired to. “

‘Islamists take Morocco’ (Ahmed Charai, The National Interest)
“It might be said that the election’s outcome strengthened the credibility of Morocco’s experiment at gradual democratization, thereby enhancing the stability and vitality of the monarchy. Now the PJD has an opportunity to prove its mettle, even as it faces the challenge of a strong parliamentary opposition and a vigilant network of civil institutions. Morocco is the better for it.”

Latest on the Channel

‘Don’t just do something, stand there!’ by F. Gregory Gause III

‘Oil, guns, and money: Libya’s revolution isn’t over’ by David Kenner

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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