The Blooming Violence of Baghdad

November 3, 2010

The Blooming Violence of Baghdad

While Americans were voting in Tuesday's midterm elections, Iraqis in Baghdad were running for cover from over a dozen blasts that rocked the city. The New York Times reports that unlike previous attacks aimed at specific segments of Iraqi society (like those earlier in the week targeting Iraq's Christians) or U.S. and Iraqi security forces, the latest wave of bombings "took dead aim at the sheen of normalcy that had settled over Baghdad."

The violence—as yet unclaimed by any specific militant group—killed about seventy people. Military spokesman Colonel Eric Bloom observed that the bombings seem "to be typical AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] tactics."

The Wall Street Journal says it's only "the latest in a series of horrific single-day, coordinated attacks that began in August 2009." Illustrating that point, the Washington Post reports violence, while still below peak levels in 2006 and 2007, has "increased fivefold" between June and September of this year.

With Iraq's government still unformed eight months after elections, Journal correspondents write, "insurgents are attempting to take advantage of the political vacuum." The Post also notes that this week's violence has "infuriated Iraqis," but apparently they are more angry at their lack of government and the American presence than at the perpetrators. (Although that assessment is based on one quotation from Baghad resident Hamid Ahmed al-Azawi.)

And while the United States has been focused on the package bombs sent from Yemen, Europe has had its own explosive-mail scare. Greek terrorists sent out at least eleven bombs to the embassies in Athens of Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland, as well as parcels addressed to the EU's highest court, Europol headquarters, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Apparently Sarkozy and Merkel's economic austerity measures have angered left-wingers in the Hellenic Republic. Two men with ties to "radical leftist organizations" have been arrested, and there is apparently no link the Yemen plot.

The Post calls it "a dramatic escalation for organizations that have never attempted to strike targets abroad." The bombs targeting Berlusconi and Merkel made it all the way to airports in Bologna and the German chancellery mailroom in Berlin, respectively, and the packages addressed to the Mexican, Swiss and Russian embassies actually went off, although no one was killed. And, hope you are not planning on mailing anything from Greece for a couple of days, as the country has shut down all outgoing airmail for the next forty-eight hours.