The military is speculating that AQ in Iraq is behind the violence, but our old friend Moqtada al-Sadr has warned against the US staying beyond the January 1, 2012 deadline and his Iranian backed militia may be trying to ratchet up sectarian violence again.
It was the worst wave of violence to strike the country in months, taking place on the halfway mark of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan
"Today's attacks are eerily similar to the stream of large scale, complex attacks that occurred here last year during Ramadan on Aug. 25," said Angela Funaro, spokeswoman for United States Forces-Iraq.
Officials believe the attacks last year were perpetrated by al Qaeda in Iraq "to shake the public's confidence in the capabilities of the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) to defend this country," but it is too early to speculate about Monday's attacks, Funaro said.
A jihadist website Monday had a post praising the attacks against "Shiites, Christians, and the apostate Awakening Councils." The post did not include a claim of responsibility. Awakening Councils are made up of former Sunni militants now in the pay of the Iraqi government, which have been credited with helping reduce violence.
The attacks come weeks after Iraq's political leaders agreed to request U.S. troops stay beyond a January 1, 2012, deadline to withdraw, and less than a week after Muqtada al-Sadr, the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric staunchly opposed to U.S. troop presence, warned against the prospects of a "challenge" with any U.S. forces that stay in Iraq. His Mehdi army militia was a major factor in the sectarian violence that erupted during the height of the war.
Monday's violence ended a period of calm that began about the same time as Ramadan.
No matter who is responsible, Iraq is still a violent country where political disputes are settled more often with the gun than with compromise. Yesterday's violence is not an excuse to keep American troops in Iraq any longer. If the Iraqis can't defend their own country and people there is little more we can do besides offering training assistance.