Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iraqi Election Date Set as Four Bombs Strike Baghdad

Two significant events occured in Iraq over the last few days. The good news first: the Iraqi Executive Council at long last approved an election law passed by Parliament. The law had been stalled in Parliament for weeks since vice president Tariq al-Hashimi vetoed it twice, and theatened to veto it a third time unless the law was amended to give predominantly Sunni refugees outside of Iraq greater representation in the next parliament. Over the weekend a compromise was reached that mollified the concerns of the previously unsatisfied main Sunni coalition.

Yet the pleasant mood that resulted from finally passing an election law (which mandates that elections be held on 7 March 2010) was broken by four explosions in central Baghdad - all during the morning rush hour - that killed 121 people. Tuesday morning's bombings mark the latest explosions in what is now becoming a pattern. Violence has declined drastically in Baghdad during 2009, but massive bombings have rocked Baghdad every six weeks or so since August. On August 19th, two suicide car bombs struck the Finance and Foreign Ministries, killing 122. On October 25th, twin suicide car bombings struck three government ministries, killing 155.

These bombings have been politically disastrous for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He's been running on a platform of law, order and security. He's tried to take credit for the improvements Iraq has seen during the last year or two concerning these aspects of everyday life, but with every massive car bomb that goes off in the middle of the capital, his election fortunes for March dwindle. In addition to firing the chief military official responsible for security in Baghdad, he's tried to blame the bombings on remnants of the Ba'th party and Al-Qaeda in Iraq without offering any convicing evidence. One woman quoted by the Washington Post says she just wants a leader who can bring stability and order "even if its an Israeli, as long as he's a good person." And right now that isn't the current Prime Minister.

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