The timings of the attacks in Baghdad indicate a co-ordinated assault [AFP]
An all-out attack on the Iraqi government came in the form of a series of powerful assaults that hit central Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
The attacks raise a number of questions, among them who had the capacity to carry out the co-ordinated attacks and was the US right to pull out of Iraq’s cities when it did?
As Baghdad reels from its bloodiest day this year, experts and journalists consider who might have been behind the attacks and what their motives might have been.
Mosab Jasim, Al Jazeera English producer in Baghdad
|Jasim: It would be really difficult to enter the Green Zone with a truck filled with explosives|
In my experience, getting inside the Green Zone to cover media activity is not easy.
First of all, you have to get at least two or three badges that allow you inside. Then, you have to cross through at least two or three security checkpoints, which are at least 600m outside of the Green Zone. At these checkpoints, you get searched, and after you pass through them, you are allowed on to the street that leads to the Green Zone and, from there, there is a final checkpoint and that’s when you’ve finally arrived.
So it would be really difficult to bring in a truck filled with explosives unless it was co-ordinated from inside the Green Zone. Obtaining a badge means you’ve gone through all the clearance procedures. The bombers who were able to put the truck inside the area of the Green Zone had gone through all the necessary security measures and once they were cleared, they also received the badges which gave them access into the area.
I spoke to our police source in Baghdad and he was telling me that his sources said an attack would occur every three minutes from each other, exactly timed. He said the attacks had nothing to do with sectarian violence, but that they were something very well organised and co-ordinated.
Aqil al-Saffar, former deputy state minister of national security in Iraq
Life was normal and it is still normal in Iraq after these blasts. I say this on so many occasions and now the government is trying to do their best to implement better security and build-up our security forces, but the foreign countries meddling with our regime, some of them Arab, are trying to interfere with our security situation and stop us from improving the situation here.
We are still in the process of building our security forces and I would say we have reached a good percentage of building our security but, maybe, it will take us months, or towards the end of this year until we have a safer Iraq. Up until now, I am satisfied, and people here are quite satisfied, with the way things are moving along.
Even in the United States or in the United Kingdom, they are working on building up their security. You can remember the tragedy of the World Trade Center or the tragedy in London – even in those Western countries, they are building their security but here, there are still some cases where the terrorists and terrorism still thrives.
In Iraq and such countries, it is quite natural for accidents like this to happen, especially when countries like Saudi Arabia are trying to put a stick in the wheels of our security efforts.
Anas al-Tikriti, Iraqi-born British Muslim anti-war activist and analyst
|Al-Tikriti: These attacks have nothing to do with the US troops pulling out from Iraqi cities|
The reality in Iraq is that the list of potential perpetrators is quite lengthy and there are various factions that have the motives and the capabilities to carry out such an attack.
There is something new about this particular attack, it does come after a relative lull. Only two months ago, Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi government and even the Americans were celebrating the relative calm that engulfed Iraq.
We heard reports about thousands of families returning home to the safety and sanctity of Iraq so I think this, politically and metaphorically, blows up that particular scenario.
What is also important is how this is an attack against the government. It’s an attack against the political process. Let us not forget, Iraq now is in full campaigning mode, we’re seeing the building of new alliances in preparation for the elections which is coming up in the next four or five months.
And this attack, I believe, comes as the first, in possibly a wave of attacks, God forbid, that will try to determine the outcome of these alliances, but generally speaking- because it’s such a highly sophisticated and highly co-ordinated and quite effective attack, it has to be a party that has the access, the capability and the know-how on how, where and when to plant these bombs.
The Americans and those who are in support of the Americans staying in Iraq would like us to think the attacks have something to do with the US troop pullout, but let us not forget that we are well into the sixth year of the Americans occupying Iraq and such blasts were nothing to be totally taken aback by only last year or the year before under the Americans and with them being fully present.
So I don’t buy into the argument that it’s because of the Americans withdrawing from large Iraqi cities and towns that we’ve seen an escalation in violence, we’ve seen such violence when they were there.
Maybe the party that actually carried out this attack wanted to try to draw back the Americans in order to provide that blanket of safety for the upcoming Iraqi elections, but I don’t buy into this.
Ahmed Rushdi, Iraqi journalist in Baghdad
The problem with this government is that its only bonus is the security situation, which means a lot worse goes on in Iraq like corruption, insufficient services.
All these issues show the failure of the government but what happened today sends a very clear message regarding the failure of the security situation in Iraq.
No one knows who was behind these attacks, some say they are inside the ruling coalition and they are opponents of al-Maliki [the Iraqi prime minister], saying that the people who led these attacks did so to prove how poor security is in Iraq.
Al-Maliki simply has too many opponents and the Iraqi people are the ones who must suffer from this the most.