Massive Death Tolls Raise Concerns in Iraq

Petraeus Blames "Tunisians" for Recent Blasts

A series of massive suicide bombings over the last two days have killed nearly 200 people, virtually all of them Shi’ites, and leaving the Iraqi public wondering where the relative calm, where only a few dozen people a week were being killed by insurgents, is now just a memory.

Though acknowledging the fragility of the situation, General David Petraeus claimed that the recent attacks were the work of Tunisian terrorists, who have returned to Iraq in recent months even as the number of domestic suicide bombers has declined.

Whatever the case, the deaths of all those Shi’ites, many of them pilgrims from Iran, is threatening to resume the massive levels of sectarian violence which saw a significant portion of the nation’s population killed and even more of them fleeing their homes as refugees or internally displaced persons.

The attacks may also imperil the already nebulous pullout strategy of the Obama Administration. The June deadline for removing troops from Iraq’s cities was already in serious danger before these attacks. If the attacks continue, it seems only a matter of time before the August 31, 2010 pullout, which would leave 50,000 troops in the nation indefinitely, falls victim to the administration’s belief that the war is not only winnable, but being won.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.