In the wake of yesterday’s car bombings, the latest in a growing string of high-profile attacks that have undercut the US and Iraqi governments’ claims that the situation in the nation is returning to normal, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has blamed the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime, in conjunction with al-Qaeda, for the attacks.
The attacks, which centered around Shi’ite neighborhoods, were just the latest in a series of incidents that portend a worsening sectarian situation in Iraq. Just over a week ago, the Iraqi government sent security forces into a Sunni neighborhood to round up protesting members of the US-backed Awakening Council. In that incident too, Prime Minister Maliki alleged that both al-Qaeda and the Ba’athists were infiltrating the group and fueling the conflict.
There is growing concern that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former military commander and current leader of the Ba’athist remnants, is growing in influence. The United States has offered $10 million for the capture or killing of al-Douri.