Monday, March 05, 2007

Just another day in the life and death of Iraq XLIV

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yeah, about that surge:

BAGHDAD -- Even as the U.S. was touting a successful initial push into a hostile Shiite neighborhood here, chaotic violence gripped other parts of the city and beyond today as a suicide bombing at a long-standing downtown book market killed 28 people and insurgent gunfire killed at least six Shiite pilgrims elsewhere in Iraq observing a religious holiday.

The incidents underscored the difficulty faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces as they try to stop sectarian violence and raised questions about how long certain factions would continue to comply with the latest security crackdown before taking revenge.

In its initial weeks, the joint crackdown has seen some limited early success, largely through securing the cooperation of Shiite leaders and the reduction of death squad murders undertaken by Shiite militias. But mass bomb attacks, which the U.S. views as largely the work of Sunni insurgents, continue to occur almost every day, and thus far the enhanced forces have been largely powerless to stop them.

The BBC is reporting that 30 people were killed and at least 65 were wounded.

To be sure, "the increase in checkpoints and troop numbers on the streets appear to have reduced death squad killings," but there are obviously limitations as to just how successful the surge can be.

And bombings like this one -- and deadly attacks generally -- will continue regardless. Both in Baghdad, where pacification is impossible, and elsewhere in Iraq.

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