A wave of bombings across Iraq Tuesday has left 65 people dead on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion. It is the deadliest day of attacks in the stil unstable country since Sep 9 when bombings killed more than 90 people. Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, they follow the pattern established by Al Qaida in Iraq. That group generally seeks to conduct spectacular and coordinated attacks to demonstrate their capabilities. The attacks targeted small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in the Iraqi capital and nearby towns over a period of more than two hours. A bombing that killed six people, including two soldiers, and wounded more than 15 occurred just outside the heavily fortified Green Zone which houses Iraq's government offices and the U.S. embassy (http://bit.ly/Yn0DTX). Today's coordinated attacks included car bombs and explosives stuck to the underside of vehicles and one mortar attack in Taji, just north of Baghdad. They targeted government security forces and mainly Shiite areas, small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops over a span of more than two hours, according to police and hospital officials. Sadr City, a poor Shiite neighborhood on the northeast of Baghdad, was hit by three explosions that killed 10 people, including three commuters on a minibus. Hussein Abdul-Khaliq, a government employee who lives in Sadr city, said he heard an explosion and went out to find the minibus on fire. "We helped take some trapped women and children from outside the burning bus before the arrival of the rescue teams. Our clothes were covered with blood as we tried to rescue the trapped people or to move out the bodies," he said. "Today's attacks are new proof that the politicians and security officials are a huge failure" (http://fxn.ws/WTkrQQ). The symbolism of the attacks is clear. Coming ten years to the day of the U.S. invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, it can be speculated they were intended to demonstrate the persistent of Al Qaida in Iraq. The conventional military operation that essentially destroyed the Iraqi Army ten years ago was relatively brief, if it is calculated from date of invasion until cessation of organized resistance from the Iraqi Army. President George Bush gave his now infamous "Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, just six weeks after the first troops crossed into Iraq. Ten years later, Iraq's democratic future is still tenuous. The Shia dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was democratically elected and still retains power. But, as today's attacks demonstrate, they still face serious challenges. U.S. Forces were welcomed as liberators from the majority of the population that had suffered for decades under the tyrannical rule of Saddam. As time wore on and anarchy took over across the country, the insurgency grew, the attacks more numerous and sophisticated and the it all began to bleed the Americans. The war for Iraq wasn't just the Americans against the insurgents. The war developed into turf wars between rival tribes and clans for control of commodities like gasoline, business and coveted and lucrative U.S. reconstruction contracts. These were fights between organized crime bosses that had money and power at their root, not religion or politics. There were small gang wars and criminal elements that conducted drive-by shootings, revenge killings and kidnappings whose perpetrators and motivations were lost in the cacophony of death and destruction and that the Iraqi Police were in no condition to deal with. There were Iranian influences that were trying to use the conflicts and disorganization to gain a foothold of power in Iraq. These attempted to infiltrate the Shia dominated institutions like the Ministry of the Interior and the Iraqi Police. Supporters of the former regime who can be best described as Sunni nationalists, saw the Shia Iranian influences coming into their country and vowed to fight it. Additionally, there were the terrorist groups like Taweed al Jihad, Ansar al Sunna and Al Qaida in Iraq that fought each other, Coalition forces, the Iraqi Security Forces and routinely targeted civilians. In the middle of it all were the Americans, trying to build a country. Ten years later, Iraq is certainly more democratic and the violence has diminished since its peak in 2006 & 2007 but whether that country, which costs 4500 dead Americans, can remain a viable and stable country remains to be seen.
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