Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

March 2009
Renewed Violence

"We have said before that Qaeda was broken, but it was not finished."

Hadi al-Ameri, the chairman of the Security Committee in the Iraqi Parliament and the leader of the Badr Organization, a Shi'ite group, on the two-day spike of violence in Iraq in March.

After months of relative calm in the Iraqi capital, insurgents strike with two back-to-back sophisticated suicide bombings in three days in early March, killing a total of more than 60 people. In both attacks, suicide bombers detonate an explosives belt into a crowd of people — the first outside a Baghdad police academy and the second in a marketplace in western Baghdad. While Iraqi military leaders stress there shouldn't be any firm conclusions drawn from the bombings and what they mean for security in the capital, the renewed violence heightens fears of the return to some of Iraq's darker days, when deadly blasts were regular occurrences. The spike in attacks come as the Pentagon announces it will reduce its troop numbers in Baghdad from 140,000 to 128,000 by September 2009, the first step in President Obama's plan to withdrawal all U.S. combat forces by August 2010. A few days after the attacks, Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tells the Associated Press that he has expressed his concerns to President Obama, saying, "I do not want any withdrawals except in areas considered 100 percent secure and under control." Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also reacts to the violence, telling reporters in his daily briefing that the government and military "remain strongly committed to ensuring peace and security in Iraq."