Baghdad Under Attack as Maliki Re-Evaluates Security Plans

BY Herschel Smith
10 years ago

It was a bloody day in Baghdad.

Iraqis gather as fire fighters respond to a massive bomb attack near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. A series of explosions struck the Iraqi capital Wednesday, targeting primarily government and commercial buildings, killing scores of people and wounding many more, Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — A series of bombings rocked Iraq’s capital within one hour Wednesday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 563 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The six explosions marked the country’s deadliest day since the United States pulled its combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns nearly two months ago and left security in the hands of the Iraqis.

In one attack, a truck bomb exploded outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The blast blew through the front of the building, sending some vehicles flying and leaving others in mangled twists of metal in the area, which is just outside the restricted International Zone, also known as the Green Zone.

Nearby, Iraqi security forces stood with shocked expressions as ambulances screamed past.

Another truck bomb went off outside the Ministry of Finance building.

In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on Kifa Street, and another bomb exploded in the Salhiya neighborhood, where on Tuesday security forces had avoided injuries by successfully defusing a truck bomb. Wednesday’s other two bombs exploded in eastern Baghdad’s Beirut Square, officials said.

“The terrorism attacks that took place today require, without a doubt, the re-evaluation of our plans and our security mechanisms to face the challenges of terrorism,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a written statement.

Omar at Iraq The Model mentions based on his sources that the casualty count could in fact be much higher.  He also mentions that major general Qasim Ata blamed the Iraqi security forces for the unfortunate setback in security. According to the Iraqia state TV, he said the incompetent units that failed to prevent the attacks have had their ranks infiltrated.

Michael Rubin writing at NRO’s Corner weighs in saying,

The blame for the terrorist bombing in Baghdad, today, rests solely on the terrorists who planted the bomb.

The terrorists, however, very much exploit an environment made possible by the “Anti-Surge” withdrawal timeline sought by Obama during his campaign and, unfortunately, agreed to by the Bush administration in its twilight weeks.

Whenever national security and military strategy is determined by Washington’s political calendar, rather than the situation on the ground in various areas of operation, the results are disastrous. Creating security vacuums is never wise. Hopefully Obama will recognize the very real linkages between Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of insurgent tactics and strategy.

Normally I agree with Michael, but do not in this instance.  I think the diagnosis points more towards the felt need for legitimacy on the national stage.  When the U.N. agreement expired there needed to be another agreement, or so the administration thought.  Enter the Iraq-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.  We have well documented the absurd restrictions on U.S. forces under this agreement (and its application by the ISF and Maliki administration), to the point that the U.S. forces are under essential house arrest.  But there are serious questions as to the readiness of the ISF to take over security.

The problem isn’t the timeline for leaving, but what we’re allowed to do there in the mean time.  Relegation to the countryside means that we must await ISF request for assistance, and even then must operate under intense scrutiny by the ISF.

But as we have pointed out, not only does allowing the ISF to utilize U.S. air assets and intelligence gathering capabilities place the U.S. at risk (the ISF have not been trained to and don’t know how to use U.S. air assets), but the best way to allow the ISF to understand its true state of readiness is for daddy to take away the car keys and see just how far junior thinks he can get without help.

Success in maintenance of security would confirm the ISF readiness.  Failure confirms that the SOFA must be undone in order to re-institute U.S. effectiveness.  Maliki can re-evaluate all he wants.  It isn’t about plans or security mechanisms.  It’s all about the SOFA – and about an ISF and administration that is apparently still to sectarian to matter to the people down on the street.

While U.S. forces are safely squirreled away aboard large bases, the ISF is just now figuring out what it means to be responsible for the security of a country.  It’s what they wanted, isn’t it?

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You are currently reading "Baghdad Under Attack as Maliki Re-Evaluates Security Plans", entry #3623 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq,Iraq SOFA and was published August 19th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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