On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a wave of bombings struck the Baghdad area and killed 57 people in what was a stark demonstration of how the country remains unstable more than a year after the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, reports the Associated Press. Suicide blasts and car bombs struck Shiite Muslim districts in the latest example of how Sunni Muslim insurgents with ties to al-Qaida are once again gaining ground in Iraq, in part due to the war in neighboring Syria, points out Reuters. The Sunni insurgents are increasingly attacking Shiite targets in what appears to be an attempt to provoke sectarian strife.
In an article earlier this month, the Guardian detailed how sectarian violence is returning to Iraq, this time “defined by a political agenda” rather than “sectarian hatred for its own sake as was visible five years ago.” Although no one has claimed responsibility for the Tuesday blasts, Reuters points out that Islamic State of Iraq, a wing of al-Qaida, has vowed to take back control of areas it lost against U.S. troops.
Tuesday’s attacks were hugely symbolic, considering they came 10 years to the day that Washington announced its “shock and awe” campaign of airstrikes on March 19, 2003, and started the bombing before dawn the following day in Iraq. Ten years ago today, Bush announced the military operations “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” He warned the war “could be longer and more difficult than some predict” but ultimately said it would give Iraqis a “united, stable, and free country.” After $61 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds, not to mention 189,000 deaths, “reality has fallen short of these expectations,” points out NBC News.
Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense during the invasion, has a different view: