A powerful bomb killed more than 75 people Wednesday night at a market in Sadr City, Baghdad’s main Shiite neighborhood, casting doubt on the readiness of Iraq’s security forces to keep a latent insurgency in check as U.S. troops pull out of the capital and other cities.
The blast, the second in Iraq in less than a week to kill more than 70 people, happened six days before the June 30 deadline for U.S. troops to retreat from urban outposts, the first of three withdrawal deadlines mandated under a security agreement.
The most likely suspect is al Qaeda, in my opinion, although this wasn’t a suicide blast. It fits their MO, and their stated intention has been to trigger a civil war. But no matter who did it, it is apparent to me that the pre-scribed reduction of embedded American forces is opening the door to more terrorist attacks.
I blame primarily al Maliki for allowing this situation, but lock-step with al Maliki regarding artificial withdrawal timetables is President Barack Obama. Al Maliki never was a big fan of the Sons of Iraq, even though they helped stamp out a significant amount of al Qaeda violence. And now that the Iraqi prime minister has a stronger hand, the door has been opening to increased violence, intimidation and attacks. That was the risk of leaving too quickly.