Iraqi officials locked down Baghdad on Tuesday, shutting down much of the city, during a carefully orchestrated sweep
that halted a plot to launch what would have been one of the worst
attacks in years. The plot involved hundreds of pounds
of explosives, several car bombs and other attacks targeting key
That Iraqi forces detected and halted the plan in time is seen as a significant success, demonstrating Iraq's ability to stand on its own. Many believe the plot aimed to sow unrest in the lead-up to the March parliamentary elections, shattering Iraq's tenuous political stability.
- In Iraqi Politics, Security Is Key The Washington Post's Leila Fadel and Aziz Alwan note that, for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other politics, security will be central in the coming election. "Another major attack would have been particularly damaging to members of Maliki's coalition running in parliamentary elections. The coalition's candidates are campaigning on a security platform," they write. "Iraqi security forces hailed their discovery of the cache and their ability to shut down parts of the capital, saying their efforts were a testament to the ability of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to maintain security."
- Terror Meant to Promote Political Unrest The Associate Press says their aim is to disrupt Iraq's tenuous political process. "Officials have warned that insurgents seeking to disrupt the vote could try to increase attacks as the election nears. The stakes are especially high for the prime minister's Rule of Law coalition, which is campaigning on its ability to protect Iraqi citizens."
- Political Opponents Insist Threat Exaggerated The New York Times's Timothy Williams reports that opposition leaders in Iraq are accusing the government of exploiting or even fabricating security concerns for political gain. "The announcement set off accusations from some Sunni politicians that the Shiite-led Iraqi government had exaggerated the incident to burnish its security credentials ahead of a March 7 national election and that the lockdown of the city that was ordered was unnecessary. 'The government is trying to leave the citizens with the impression that there is a battle. They terrified and shocked the people,' said Sunni legislator Saleh al-Mutlaq, whose party recently was barred from the upcoming election."
- Rumors of a Coup IraqPundit recounts from Baghdad. "There were all sorts of rumours circulating around town. And though the official statement is that authorities blocked certain neighbourhoods for a while to search for bomb materials, Iraqis still believe there was a coup attempt against Nouri Al Maliki," he writes. "The whispers and the fears show how people still attribute special powers to the Baathists. They are not yet gone for good, and nobody believes they will ever leave completely."
- Is It Good That Americans Don't Care? Spencer Ackerman explores American indifference to this and other big stories out of Iraq. "What I do know is that absolutely none of this will have any impact at all on American politics. Iraq is just... gone as an issue," he writes. "I suppose it's ultimately a positive thing that the acrimony of the Iraq war is behind us, at least for now. And it's not actually problematic that the U.S. can't seem to pay attention to more than one war at a time, since the point of U.S. foreign policy, as a general proposition, should be to fight as few wars as humanly possible. But this American sense that a problem overseas is solved the moment American politics reaches an equilibrium about it -- that's just unhealthy and self-delusional."