Rivals Blame al-Maliki for Poor Security Arrangements

The death toll of Sunday’s twin bombings in Baghdad has risen to 155, and tragically it turns out that two dozen children were among the victims.

I still disagree with those who have been alleging that the bombing puts the upcoming parliamentary election in question, or raises questions about whether the Iraqi troops can keep order. These big bombings have been going on for years, and they went on when the US was in charge of security, as well. In fact, civilian deaths from political violence have fallen in recent months.

Although initial reports about the massive bombings in Baghdad on Sunday said that they were car bombs, McClatchy is now reporting that they were large trucks. One was packed with C4 explosives and the other with TNT. The Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq are still mining old Baath weapons depots, but my suspicion is that the C4 probably was imported from outside the country. Al-Hayat transmits from AFP in Arabic that one of the trucks was a Renault from the Water Department in Falluja, a city to the west of Baghdad that has been a center of Sunni Arab fundamentalist resistance to the US and the Shiite government. In November-December of 2004, the US military invaded and destroyed Falluja, so there may be people there for whom Sunday’s bombings were a form of revenge on the capital.

Many in Baghdad are scratching their heads and wondering how in the world these big trucks filled with explosives were allowed to get anywhere near government ministries. Dark suspicions of security personnel bribed or traitorous are circulating.

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports in Arabic that public confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been shaken by the bombings, and quotes opposition politicians from rival groups such as the Sadrists as slamming the PM for not doing enough to provide security in the capital.

In the light of the security lapses for which he is now being taken to task, al-Maliki’s decision to stay out of the National Iraqi Alliance coalition joined by most other Shiite parties may have been the wrong move. He is now running against parties which can depict themselves as out of power and so not responsible for the steady drumbeat of bombings. Al-Maliki has no larger coalition partners in whom he could take cover. If his Da’wa Party loses big time in the parliamentary elections, that loss could help destabilize Iraq. A new prime minister will have to struggle to get hold of the security and intelligence forces, and the US military will have to work with a new cast of characters.

Government workers who reported for work on Monday, according to CBS, said that they felt as though they were at a funeral. Some were afraid there might be more attacks on government offices:

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that there is a great deal of popular anger over the slowness of the rescue operations in Baghdad.

Aljazeera English reports on popular anger at the government and security forces over the lapses that allowed the drivers of the trucks to position themselves downtown in the morning.

Russia Today’s Baghdad offices were devastated by the blasts, and that channel reports from Baghdad:

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