Security situation in Iraq faces new challenges

Updated: 2011-12-23 09:04


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BAGHDAD - A string of deadly bomb attacks ripped through the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 65 people and injuring more than 185 others, a few days after the withdrawal of the US forces from the country.

The international community had expressed concerns over the capability of Iraqi forces in maintaining security, while Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on several occasions displayed his confidence on his troops in protecting civilians.

Analysts said that the war-torn nation would see uncertainties in the security situation as tension among Iraq's political rivals were rising.

Security situation in Iraq faces new challenges

Iraqi security forces inspect the site of the bomb attack in Baghdad's Shaab District, northern Baghdad, December 22, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

Political motives

"The prime minister might have been too optimistic about the situation," Ibrahim Ameri, a professor of politics at Baghdad University, told Xinhua.

Ameri said the around 770,000-strong forces are not competitive in logistics, coordination and intelligence.

Iraqi authorities believe that Thursday's attacks were not regular ones which could be blamed on the al-Qaida. Maliki said the attacks were "politically motivated," pledging to bring the attackers to justice.

"The time and the place of such crimes underscore the political nature of the goals that they (attackers) want to achieve," Maliki said in a statement issued by his office.

"The attacks were aimed at distorting the security situation to undermine the confidence of the Iraqi people in their security forces, particularly after the withdrawal of the US troops from the country," said Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command, a joint headquarters of army and police.

Maliki and Atta failed to point fingers on any particular groups but many believe that the authorities will hold the Sunni political blocs, Maliki's major rivals, of culpability.

Thursday's attacks came amid a political row between Maliki and his political rivals in the Sunni-backed bloc of al-Iraqia. Maliki sought to arrest Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi on terror charges.

The prime minister also urged the parliament to sack his Sunni deputy Salih al-Mutlak after the latter dubbed Maliki "a dictator" in a recent interview with CNN.

Mutlak, on another occasion, said "Maliki is worse than Saddam Hussein."

Analysts said that the growing rift between Maliki's leading Shiite bloc and his political rivals would turn into a new era of bloodshed.

Fear for violence increase

The feud between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite clans had triggered many tragedies in history.

Samir al-Jubouri, a professor of politics at the Al-Turath University, said as the Shiite bloc dominates both the government and military, the Sunnis may feel having no choice other than starting militia attacks.

"Thursday's attacks may just be a warm-up instead of a show- down," Jubouri told Xinhua.

Foreign interference will make the situation more complicated, said the expert.

While condemning the attacks, the Sunni-backed bloc al-Iraqia called on the international community to participate in the investigation, during a press conference held on Thursday.

"This would be a help signal to the Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia," Jubouri said.

It's not a secret that Saudi Arabia and Iran are behind Iraq's Sunni and Shiite clans, Jubouri said, adding that the two countries would like to increase their influence on Iraq in the wake of the US troop withdrawal.

However, as Maliki has tightened his grip on the military, the risk of a civil war would not be high, he added.

"After almost nine years of war, the country's politicians may learn how to curb the tussle within a reasonable limit," Jubouri said.