The day after the October 25, 2009 bombings of the Justice Ministry and provincial council buildings in Baghdad, the U.S. military praised how the government was handling the situation compared to the August 2009 attacks. After that event, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki started a major diplomatic row with Syria, blaming Baathists there for masterminding the bombing. Baghdad aired a taped confession of a suspect on TV who said that he had made one of the truck bombs on orders from two Baathist officials in Damascus. That was contradicted by the fact that Al Qaeda in Iraq was the only group to officially take responsibility for the attack, and after the confession appeared, Iraqi security forces arrested an Al Qaeda cell that they said made the explosives. U.S. officials are also now telling the press that they don’t put much credibility behind the confession. This time a U.S. military spokesman said that Baghdad was being more pragmatic and deliberate in their response, by launching an investigation rather than making wild accusations.
Since then Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Islamic State took responsibility for the bombings, Iraqi forces with U.S. advisers conducted raids in Baghdad looking for a suspect they believed was behind both the August and October bombings, extra security was added to the capital, and 61 soldiers and police officers were arrested for incompetence in stopping the attack. That period may be ending however.
Spurred on by public dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to stop the bombings, Iraqi officials have begun blaming foreigners, and each other once again. Iraq’s Foreign Minister called for a U.N. investigation into the bombings, a request that started after the August attack. Baghdad’s governor accused the security forces of negligence, while the provincial council voted to dismiss the Interior Minister and the Baghdad Operations Chief. Most recently, on October 30, the Foreign Minister said that Syria and Baathists that resided there were involved in this attack as well. Iraq is also compiling a portfolio on foreign support for terrorists that it will present to a new United Nations envoy soon.
In August, Prime Minister Maliki tried to defer blame and distract public opinion from a domestic security failure by turning it into an international event. This time, the Iraqi government’s response was better at first. That didn’t last long as more and more politicians are beginning to turn on each other, and pointing fingers at foreign interference again, even though Al Qaeda in Iraq is the only one that has publicly come out saying they were behind the bombing, just like they did in August. Syria has definitely allowed a plethora of militants to operate out of its country against Iraq, but no convincing evidence has been publicly aired to imply that either Damascus or the Baathists were behind either the August or October attacks. With Iraq caught up in campaigning for the 2010 elections, and the Prime Minister’s reputation on the line with the security lapses, it is easier for officials to accuse others than admit that they have made mistakes.
Alsumaria, “Iraq prepares evidence for UN Chief envoy,” 10/31/09
- “Security Forces blamed for Baghdad attacks,” 10/28/09
- “Zebari accuses Syria of implication in Iraq attacks,” 10/31/09
Arraf, Jane, “Baghdad bombings: Iraqis at scene blame political parties,” 10/25/09
- “Iraq bombings: US military spokesman praises Iraqi response,” Christian Science Monitor, 10/26/09
Al Jazeera, “Iraq seeks UN inquiry into blasts,” 10/27/09
Leland, John, “Iraq Makes Sweeping Arrests Over Baghdad Blasts,” New York Times, 10/30/09
Sly, Liz, “Iraq beefs up security in Baghdad after bombings,” Los Angeles Times, 10/27/09