More than 60 dead in Iraq sectarian bloodletting
It's al-Qaeda in Iraq back with a vengeance. But this time, there are no US forces to go after and kill them.
The violence began early on Thursday morning in Baghdad when explosives strapped to a motorcycle were detonated near a group of day laborers who had congregated by the side of the road in the slum of Sadr City, according to security officials.
Moments later, two improvised explosive devices were detonated near rescuers who were taking the wounded to a nearby hospital, the officials said. Nine people were killed in the explosions and 35 were wounded.
An hour after the Sadr City attack, two car bombs were detonated in bustling squares in the neighborhood of Kadhimiya, killing 15 people and wounding 31, according to security officials.
The explosions on Thursday came a little less than three weeks after American troops withdrew from Iraq and the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki accused the country's Sunni vice president of running a death squad.
The vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, fled Baghdad for the country's semiautonomous Kurdish region where Mr. Maliki's security forces have less authority. Meanwhile, in Baghdad Sunni and Kurdish politicians have accused Mr. Maliki of trying to use the episode to consolidate his power and have boycotted sessions of Parliament.
Maliki is a small minded, provincial, sectarian oriented politician who doesn't have what it takes to stop the slide into civil war. The Sunni politicians aren't much better. The tragedy that is unfolding is the result of an immature political culture that has been unable - or unwilling - to move beyond the narrow sectarian and regional concerns of its leaders to embrace a nationwide political awakening not based on religion, but on shared values held by all Iraqis.
That requires a largeness of mind and enormous political courage. Alas, such men seem to be lacking.