They say that every cloud has a silver lining, but in the case of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton it seems that every morgue full of dead Shi’ites has a silver lining. For while analysts watched the massive death toll of the attacks in the past two days with grave concerns about the ramifications, Secretary Clinton insists that the killings are a sign “that Iraq is going in the right direction.”
“These are tragic and terrible events,” Clinton conceded, “but they do not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made.” At the same time, the primary reason for the visit was to reassure Iraq’s leaders that if the violence continues to worsen, the Obama Administration will back off its already neutered pullout plan. It seems the plan to remove many of the troops by August, 2010, while leaving up to 50,000 in the nation indefinitely beyond that is in more doubt with each bombing.
Thursday was the bloodiest day Iraq has seen in a year, with a pair of massive bombings killing over 90 people. Friday was a close second, however, with its two largest bombings killing at least 73. And while US officials are content to publicly dismiss anything which doesn’t fit neatly into the narrative of impending victory (Gen. Petraeus blamed the attacks on “Tunisians“), in Iraq’s capital, which bore the brunt of these attacks, the sense of rising danger is palpable.
Though noteworthy, these last few days were not, despite administration protestations, an isolated incident. Violence across Iraq has been rising for two months now, and the apparent falling out between the Shi’ite-led government and the US-backed Sunni Awakening Council has only added sparks to the sectarian powderkeg. One from which the US seems unwilling to extricate itself.