An estimated 26 coordinated explosions targeting police rocked more than a dozen Iraqi cities on Tuesday, killing at least 49 people and wounding more than 200 in the country’s deadliest day in nearly one month. The blasts came on the nine year anniversary of the American invasion and one week before Iraq is set to host the Arab League summit meeting for the first time in 20 years. They are an apparent message from insurgents set to prove that Baghdad cannot maintain the state’s security following the U.S. troop withdrawal and the official end of the war in December.
No group claimed responsibility for the recent spate of attacks, although the finger has been pointed at al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is believed that the terror group is trying to destabilize the country in an effort to persuade the Arab League to cancel or postpone the summit due to security concerns, as it did last year.
Iraqis inspect the site of a car bomb in Hilla, Iraq.
To help assuage those fears, Iraq is spending some $500 million in preparations for the meeting, a cost that will cover items from increasing security to hotel renovations to planting new sod and palm trees on the road from the airport. Viewed as its diplomatic renaissance after years of war, the upcoming Arab League summit is a sign of Baghdad’s desire to be seen and treated as a regular member of the international community, with normalized relations with other countries and people in control of their own fate.
Tuesday’s attacks are not new; every few weeks insurgents launch large-scale coordinated attacks in Iraq to offset any gains that might have been made by Baghdad. The attacks appear to be more deadly, however, now that the American troops are gone. Prior to Tuesday, a wave of coordinated attacks blasted through Iraq on February 23, killing 60 people and wounding dozens. Indeed, despite U.S. withdrawal, Sunni Muslim insurgents have said they will not stop fighting against the Shiite-led government, leaving many Americans to wonder, what did the U.S. accomplish in Iraq?