An Al Qaeda front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks that ripped through markets, cafes and government buildings in Baghdad on a single day last week, killing 69 people and raising new worries about the country's path.
The coordinated attacks struck a dozen mostly Shiite neighborhoods on Thursday in the first major bloodshed since U.S. troops completed a full withdrawal this month after nearly nine years of war. They also coincided with a government crisis that has again strained ties between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites to the breaking point, tearing at the same fault line that nearly pushed Iraq into all-out civil war several years ago.
The claim of responsibility made no mention of the U.S. withdrawal. Instead, it focused its rage on the country's Shiite-dominated leadership, which Sunni insurgents have battled since it came to power as a result of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. …
The Baghdad military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, said Al Qaeda in Iraq -- no longer focused on fighting U.S. forces -- is hoping to take advantage of the current political tension to re-ignite sectarian warfare.
"It has become a clear scheme to draw Iraq into a sectarian war again," al-Moussawi said. "Al Qaeda in Iraq played a major role in 2005 and 2006 in pushing the county into a civil war and they succeeded." …
U.S. and some Iraqi officials have warned of a resurgence of Sunni and Shiite militants and an increase in violence after the U.S. troop withdrawal.
I fear that this will not end well--not for Iraq, not for the United States, and not for world peace.