Ambulances transported casualties from more than a dozen car-bombings across Iraq. The worst day of violence in many months. The magnitude of the coordinated attacks, killing and wounding dozens, caught Iraqi security forces off guard and left even war-weary citizens shaking their heads.
One young man in Baghdad reflects on the destruction after a car bomb exploded near a police station in the cities' Qahira district, killing more than a dozen people:
He says it was a powerful explosion, causing widespread damage, destroying many cars and killing and wounding many people. Politicians, he complains, go on TV to say the Iraqi people are important to them, so let them look around and see the Iraqi people getting killed and maimed.
One member of parliament from the Tawafaq Party, Mohammad Iqbal, attributed the wave of bombings to the fact that Iraqi politicians have still not been able form a government more than five months after inconclusive parliamentary elections last March:
He says the deterioration of the security situation is a message to politicians generally and perhaps to the government. He says the country is in the midst of a struggle to form the next government and there are groups that do not want a resolution to the crisis and want to keep fueling sectarian strife.
The explosions followed news of a major U.S. troop reduction to under 50,000 troops. Middle East analyst James Denselow of Kings' College London argues that some Iraqi groups clearly intend to use violence as a method of politics:
"It is very ominous, indeed. The Americans have just renamed their presence in Iraq 'Operation New Dawn,' and it would appear that there are certain groups in the country that want to make that a false dawn, and I think it is a message. It is using violence as a method of politics by other means and the fact that it is so widespread, coordinated attacks, similar modus vivendi: in the sense of suicide car bombings against police and security and government infrastructure is a sign that the insurgency or elements of it, or groups within it still have an ability to circumnavigate the Iraqi security forces."
Denselow notes Iraq has 650,000 men in the security forces, including the police and border guards. U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno indicated several days ago that U.S. troops could undertake combat operations if the need arose, but that it is "unlikely."