Baghdad bloodbath portends deadly anti-Maliki campaign
Because the Obama administration wants to put the six-year old Iraq conflict on a back burner, relying on the safe hands of Nouri al-Maliki, the deadliest terrorist atrocity to hit Baghdad in two years was treated in Washington and Baghdad as an unforeseen disaster, possibly triggered by Iraq’s election in two months’ time.
In fact, the Iraq war is by no means over – or even won.
The two car bombs, which exploded two minutes apart Sunday, Oct. 25, destroyed three buildings in the fortified Green Zone, the ministries of justice and public works and the governor’s office. The smaller bomb blew up first outside the governate, sending pedestrians fleeing half a kilometer north towards the ministerial complex. There, the larger bomb went off with disastrous effect: The death toll rose by Monday to 165, with more than 54 people injured.
debkafile‘s counter-terror and Iraq sources point to the five main causes, internal and regional, for the continuing bloodshed in Iraq:
1. The Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s personality. He is acting out his ambition to be the strongman of Baghdad, almost another Saddam Hussein. His iron-rod style of rule is accepted by Washington but raising the hackles of all Iraq’s religious and ethnic communities, Kurds, Sunni Arabs and even sections of his own Shiites. Maliki has parted ways with the Shiite establishment to form a broad coalition, pinning his hopes of an election victory on his high-handedness, backed by Iraq’s military and security services.
So the Baghdad attack may have been engineered by any of anti-Maliki’s enemies in Iraq society in order to trip him up.
2. Saudi Arabia sees Shiite al-Maliki singling out its fellow Sunnis for discrimination or even persecution. Riyadh has enough with one powerful Shiite neighbor in Tehran and is strongly reluctant to see another strong Shiite ruler in Baghdad. Saudi intelligence officers are therefore helping Iraq’s Sunnis build militias, some to engage in terror.
3. Even Tehran is anxious to cut the ambitious Shiite making waves in Baghdad down to size. Five months ago, US and Iraqi intelligence noticed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al Qods Brigades chief, Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani was actively feeding Iraqi Sunni networks across the country with logistical and intelligence assistance for shaking the prime minister with terrorist attacks.
4. Like Tehran, Syrian president Bashar Assad, is not keen to see a potent figure governing Iraq. He has therefore not lifted a finger to curb the passage of terrorists, arms and cash from Syria into Iraq, spurning every appeal from Washington, including one delivered by a special US military delegation on Aug. 13.
5. Two Sunni terrorist groups enjoying sanctuary in Syria for their cross-border operations profit directly from Assad’s inaction. One is Saddam’s old Baath, now led by his former deputy and strategist, Izzat Ibrahim Dura. The other is al Qaeda.
Our counter-terror sources do not rule out Iran’s hand working through either or both of these groups to perpetrate the latest bloody bombing attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone, just as it did for the large-scale attack on Aug. 19 which left 95 dead. Maliki then bitterly accused Syria of facilitating the lethal blast but is more tightlipped this time.
President Barack Obama insisted Sunday night that the timetable he set for US troops to end their mission to Iraq still stands, but he may not have the last word.