Twin car bombings devastated the heart of Baghdad Sunday.
The first one devastated the Ministry of Justice, while the second one targeted the Baghdad Provincial Administration building. Hundreds were wounded and the death toll so far is at 155, including a number of children.
There are hundreds of funerals going on today.
SO, whodunnit, and why?
President Maliki blamed the remnants of al-Qaeda and disgruntled supporters of the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein, and a number of arrests have been made, but I'd be very surprised if those were the culprits. The ex-Ba'athists have no reason to, since they've mostly been rehabilitated. And if al-Qaeda in Iraq survivors had done this, they would likely be claiming credit for it, just to show they're stil a force to be reckoned with if nothing else.
I think Iran and its Shi'ite proxies are a much better suspect.
As you might remember, Iraq's Shi'ite Alliance, the largest bloc in Parliament of major Iranian-backed Shiite parties that propelled Maliki into power three years ago formed a new political alliance and dumped him as their candidate for re-election for the January 2010 election.
The new bloc is loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and Iran.
This put Maliki in an interesting position with the January elections coming up.His own Dawa Party is fairly small. So he could either try and cut a deal with minority Sunni parties or even the Kurds to strengthen his position, or try moving more towards a hard line Shiite pro-Iran position in hopes of pulling enough votes to have a coalition.
So far, he's been straddling both positions, and relying on his reputation as a strong leader who's brought security to the country. But ever since US troops pulled out of Iraq's cities,there have been a number of worsening bombing incidents, of which this is just the latest.
If Maliki's reputation as a strong provider of internal security can be wrecked sufficiently, it could be a major factor in turning him out of office come January and the Iran-friendly Shi'ite Alliance getting in. They and the Iranians have everything to gain by blowing up a few buildings.
Think of it as Lebanon redux.
If that happens the US would be faced with an increasingly hostile pro-Iranian regime in Iraq as we withdraw. Our final US withdrawal is scheduled for 2011, but if this scenario plays out it could be even earlier since the Iraqis have a referendum before then to vote on whether to request an earlier US withdrawal.