Since the end of July, there have been two massive bombings in Iraq. On July 31st, 29 were killed when a several bombs exploded outside Shiite mosques. On Friday, a truck bomb in another Shiite mosque detonated, killing another 37.
Regular days are also violent affairs. Take August 3rd. In the restive city of Mosul, five Iraqis were killed by separate attacks. Two bombs in Baghdad exploded, killing up to six Iraqis and wounding 26. Near Falluja, another bomb killed two and wounded seven.
In fact, according to the Associated Press, there have been 27 major bombings this year alone, the worst of which led to 82 deaths. The two months with the least number of major bombings were January and February. Since then there have been an average of four to five major bombings per month.
Politically, things look even worse. On important political issues ranging from the fate of Kurdistan to a new oil law, Iraqi politicians have failed to make progress. Worryingly, the current Shia-dominated government seems increasingly hostile to the Sunni-led Awakening movement that was a major factor in reducing insurgent violence.
Here’s the point. Undoubtedly, violence is down from the days of 2006. Undoubtedly, progress has been made. But Iraq is still a very violent place; there is considerable instability in the country. Americans – and the current administration in particular – should not take Iraq for granted. That was the mistake George Bush made with Afghanistan. We are paying the price for that today.
Progress from the surge and the Awakening movement has plateaued. Maybe violence will continue to decline and the insurgency continue to weaken. That is the hope. Or maybe the opposite will happen, as violence rebounds and the insurgency recovers.
Right now nobody in America is paying attention to Iraq; everybody thinks the problem is solved when in fact it is not quite so. If things start going wrong, the media will be slow to pick up on it; it certainly took them a while with Afghanistan. So the administration has time on its side. But it should be very very careful that Iraq maintains a modicum of stability. It wouldn’t to do repeat George Bush’s mistake in an exciting new way.