Yesterday bombs swept across Iraq in yet another massive, coordinated attack – an all too familiar sight for Iraqis. Coming less than a week after the withdrawal of the final U.S. “Combat Troops” from Iraq (which in and of itself is as misnomer, as as many as 50,000 American troops will remain stationed in Iraq training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and if called upon, engaging in combat), we are told that it is yet another attempt by those few insurgents remaining to disrupt Iraq’s renewal, and to foment a renewed spree of sectarian violence.
Iraq’s Security Forces trained and equipped by the United States have taken the brunt of these recent assaults, and are being extra weary as they transition to becoming the sole guarantors for the security of Iraq. Although American officials are expressing nothing but praise for these new security forces, yesterday’s New York Times report about the bombings raise questions about their capacity and organization, noting that
The attacks seemed to sow chaos and confusion among the Iraqi police and soldiers who responded. Twice, police officers brawled with soldiers at the scene, where the blast sheared the top floors off six houses and bent street lights like paper clips. In each confrontation, a shot was fired into the air before officers broke up the fight.”
The police kept angry residents away, but the residents, in turn, heckled them for their impotence in stopping a blast that cut like a scythe through the street. While dismembered bodies were pulled from the rubble, others remained entombed.
CNN’s Arwa Damon, who has covered this conflict almost from it’s inception, yesterday penned an article that well could leave all the D.C. policy wonks shivering. She writes, “There was much fanfare and media attention surrounding the departure of the last U.S. combat convoy — as if the war was somehow suddenly over and Iraq had transformed into a peaceful, prosperous country.”
It is all too apparent that the war is not over, and as one looks down the list of Iraq’s woes, from the inability to access clean drinking water all the way to the inability to form a cohesive government, it is clear that this new Iraq is still very much in it’s developing stages, and as Damon laments, may be headed toward more dark days :
Baghdad is grimmer than I have ever seen it. Bit[sic] it’s different from those “dark years.” It is a different type of despair that seems to have settled on the capital.
Many Iraqis say it’s because they feel everyone is failing them, from the U.S. to the Iraqi politicians.
As the political circus continues and as violence ebbs and flows, it is average Iraqis who are relegated to be the abject players in this horrific game. From the refugees to the street vendors to the children and beyond, Iraqis know that their country is still a very grim place. When will we realize it?