Iraq: Two steps forward, one step back

A reminder that for all of the success enjoyed by the Iraqis in trying to bring peace to their land, there are still those who seek to sabotage the effort:

At least 33 people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing targeting a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The attack -- which occurred outside the municipal building of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad -- also wounded 46 others, the official said.

Another Interior Ministry official told CNN the attack occurred when people gathered outside as the conference in the building ended.

Tribal leaders from the Abu Ghraib area were attending the meeting, the latest such conference between officials from the Shiite-led government and Sunni Arab tribal leaders.

Iraqi soldiers were among the casualties, the official said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the strike, but in the past, such gatherings have been targeted by al Qaeda in Iraq, the anti-American Sunni Arab militant group.

The blast follows another huge attack on Sunday, when a man wearing an explosives-laden vest drove a motorcycle rigged with bombs into a group of police recruits in eastern Baghdad. That attack killed 30 people and wounded 61 others.

It will take a lot more than a couple of fanatics to derail the process put in motion by al-Maliki and his government to bring the tribes into a power sharing agreement. But the attacks underscore the fragility of the Iraqi government at this point.

Maliki emerged from the recent local elections in a much stronger position and is, I think, cleverly using this increased influence to make a concerted effort to increase Sunni participation. By all accounts, he is being given high marks for the effort if not the results so far. But attacks like this undermine confidence in the government since the Sunnis now look to Bagdhad to protect them.

And at this point, it is only a guess that al-Qaeda in Iraq is responsible. There are Shia parties that do not like the idea of Maliki making nice with the Sunnis not to mention rivals for power within the Shia community who would like to undermine Maliki's efforts and weaken him. But whoever it was, they are underestimating what is happening in Iraq as slowly, but with great determination, the government is trying to pull the country together.


A reminder that for all of the success enjoyed by the Iraqis in trying to bring peace to their land, there are still those who seek to sabotage the effort:

At least 33 people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing targeting a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The attack -- which occurred outside the municipal building of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad -- also wounded 46 others, the official said.

Another Interior Ministry official told CNN the attack occurred when people gathered outside as the conference in the building ended.

Tribal leaders from the Abu Ghraib area were attending the meeting, the latest such conference between officials from the Shiite-led government and Sunni Arab tribal leaders.

Iraqi soldiers were among the casualties, the official said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the strike, but in the past, such gatherings have been targeted by al Qaeda in Iraq, the anti-American Sunni Arab militant group.

The blast follows another huge attack on Sunday, when a man wearing an explosives-laden vest drove a motorcycle rigged with bombs into a group of police recruits in eastern Baghdad. That attack killed 30 people and wounded 61 others.

It will take a lot more than a couple of fanatics to derail the process put in motion by al-Maliki and his government to bring the tribes into a power sharing agreement. But the attacks underscore the fragility of the Iraqi government at this point.

Maliki emerged from the recent local elections in a much stronger position and is, I think, cleverly using this increased influence to make a concerted effort to increase Sunni participation. By all accounts, he is being given high marks for the effort if not the results so far. But attacks like this undermine confidence in the government since the Sunnis now look to Bagdhad to protect them.

And at this point, it is only a guess that al-Qaeda in Iraq is responsible. There are Shia parties that do not like the idea of Maliki making nice with the Sunnis not to mention rivals for power within the Shia community who would like to undermine Maliki's efforts and weaken him. But whoever it was, they are underestimating what is happening in Iraq as slowly, but with great determination, the government is trying to pull the country together.