Two marketplace bombs in El-Kut 170 kilometres southeast of Baghdad – the first going off in a fridge, and the second one in a parked car, after police arrived – have left 35 Iraqis dead and over 70 others injured. A parallel spate of bombings and gunfire assaults in other Iraqi cities, from Baghdad to Tikrit, has killed 35 more people. The terror death toll of 70 makes this Monday Iraq’s bloodiest day in months.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the developments by issuing a statement, which says such attacks cannot be justified and are sheer terror. Analysts also suspect an attempt to trouble waters as Iraq and the United States discuss a possibility for at least some of the US troops on Iraqi territory to overstay an agreed pullout deadline. This deadline is New Year’s midnight.
Dr Sergei Demidenko of the Moscow-based Strategic Assessments Institute offers an apprehension of what is in store for Iraq:
"Terror claims Iraqi lives every day, making the country much less stable than was promised by the Americans. True, the bloodbaths of 2006 and 2007 are things of the past. There are two factors in this: first, an end to a massive internecine squabble to carve up resources and property, and second, an American military strategy to stay away from combat and support Iraq’s own security apparatus as emergency backers and advisors. This relative lull, however, is not forever. As soon as the Americans leave, an explosion of violence will occur. The pullback will create a power vacuum, to be filled by whoever comes on top in Iraq’s infighting."
The Iraqis themselves are in stark disagreement over whether the American military should stay on. Some believe it should. Others, including Vice President Tareq Al Hashimi, say that rather than solving security problems, the American military presence makes them worse and must therefore come to an end.
Anyway, the 47 thousand or so American troops in the country would be replaced by approximately as many military advisors and instructors.