Bombs within Baghdad: A reminder

So I’m standing outside the Iraqi parliament building with my translator, who we’ll call Mr. Mohammed. It’s about 10:30 am. We’re waiting for approval so we can go inside and talk to Iraqi politicians, supposedly at work at passing an election law so they can hold a vote in January. After the election, the Americans are supposed to go home.

Hastings: Gee, there haven’t been any real big bombings in Baghdad since August 19.

Mr. Mohammed: No, there haven’t been.

Three minutes pass.

Boom, the ground shakes. A black plume of smoke appears about a mile or so away.

30 seconds or so pass.

Boom, same deal.

Sirens, random gunshots, folks light cigarettes etc. 

Mr. Mohammed: Mike, you shouldn’t have said anything.

Hastings: I know, and just when I was begining to convince myself that things were kind of peaceful here.

Anyway, a pretty horrible day in Baghdad. At least 10074 people two dozen people were killed, scores more wounded. Nobody seems to know who’s really behind the bombings, though the consensus “on the Iraqi street” (and even claims made by parliamentarians) is that the violence is politically driven. That is, the people conducting the violence are also involved in the political process, and the aim of today’s attack(on the Ministry Justice, which is right near the Baghdad Mayor’s office, and also an important hotel where Iraqi VIP’s stay) is to destabilize the Maliki government before the elections in January. To make Maliki look weak, in other words. Both this attack–and the Aug. 19 attack–seem to be testing the government, striking in an area that is supposed to be well protected and secure. But, like I said, it’s Iraq, and no one seems to really know.

UPDATE: The WSJ’s Gina Chon has immediate onscene details.

The Baghdad municipality is just a few hundred yards from the ministry of foreign affairs, which was heavily damaged in the August attacks. The two explosions Sunday blew out windows on many of the floors of the nearby Mansour hotel, one of Baghdad’s best hotels. The ceiling of at least one floor of the hotel caved in.

The hotel hosts the Chinese embassy. Shortly after the blast, residents and visitors weren’t allowed to leave the hotel. Body parts littered the hotel parking lot. Dozens of charred cars smoldered in the area around the blast.



About michaelhastings

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5 Responses to Bombs within Baghdad: A reminder

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Michael Hastings - The Hastings Report – Bombs within Baghdad: A reminder - True/Slant --

  2. andylevinson says:

    I thought Obama had already fixed all this?

  3. specialk says:

    What rational folks in Iraq (indeed everywhere) are up against: Death and despair dispensed cost-effectively.

    It would appear that al-Queda minions
    Who’re toward suicide inclined
    Can at little or no $-cost to al Queda
    Be equipped with bombs individually designed,
    To expand mere suicide into multiple murder
    When detonated in crowded places
    Simply for the purpose of killing, per se,
    Or perhaps influencing outcomes of political races.

    Because they’re not civilized
    And are of mind-set medieval,
    They can wreak havoc quite inexpensively
    Through simple individual acts inherently evil.
    That’s what civilized folks everywhere
    Are up against today;
    And what can they do about it?
    Quien sabe? It’s quite hard to say.

    However, that notwithstanding,
    It would be helpful if civilized folks everywhere
    Stood together, openly, in strong condemnation
    Of a culture that breeds only death and despair.
    Also individuals steeped in that culture,
    Not only evil chieftains, such as, for example, bin Laden, Osama,
    But also their, apparently, malleable minions,
    Who by adding murder to suicide
    Earn dishonorable mention for their roles in life’s drama.

    In Iraq and amongst Palestinians, today and yesterday:

    From the archives April 3, 2002
    “Breaking news” on the cost-effectiveness theme:

    According to an “internal” “requisitional” request–
    One that Israeli troops were from Yasser able to divest–
    Some of his troop, terrorist,
    Included bombs in the list
    Of materials needed for what (he knows) they do best!!

    Purchased for only a modicum of pelf
    Bombs strapped securely to self
    When made to explode
    In an Israeli abode
    Are as effective as if dropped from a bomber (with) Stealth.

    And, just consider the difference in cost!
    Only about 50 shekels ($150) will be lost,
    Whereas for a “smart bomb” the bill
    Could be in U.S.A, e.g., $2.5 “mil”–
    And no more bodies could, by it, out of the window be tossed!!

    How fortunate we in this country have been
    To have had founders– “true leaders of men”–
    Who not only knew how to fight
    But also had remarkable insight
    As to how to live, as well as to win!

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