While the conflict in Iraq eased somewhat from 2006 and 2007 when sectarian conflict killed thousands violence seems to be steadily rising again. Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents are stepping up attacks igniting tensions between the Shi'ite majority and Sunni minority. Under Saddam Hussein the Sunnis were dominant.
Among the blasts
were two car bombs near the city of Amara south of Baghdad. The bombs exploded outside a Shi'ite shrine and market place killing at least 16 people and wounding more than a hundred according to officials.
In another attack 30 miles north of Baghdad a suicide bomber in a car attacked a military base. Eleven soldiers were killed and seven injured according to local police. Another car bomb in Kirkuk 250 kilometers north of Baghdad killed eight people in line seeking jobs as guards for an oil company. In another incident both a car bomb and a bomb attached to a motorcycle killed 7 and wounded 40 outside a crime investigation office.
There were several other blasts in other cities. Even a French consular building was targeted in the city of Nassiriya 300 kilometers south of Baghdad. In that attack a police guard was killled and four wounded.
Al-Qaeda's front group, the Islamic State of Iraq,
said it carried out 131 attacks in the month of Ramadan. To add to the division in Iraq the government has sentenced the Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi
to death in absentia. An Iraqi court has found him guilty of being in control of death squads. The VP is now a fugitive in Turkey.
Hashemi was the most senior Sunni politician in the mostly Shia Iraqi government. Many have accused the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of assuming dictatorial powers and stoking sectarian strife. He has been criticized even by the Al-Sadr group that is part of his coalition government.
Nouri al-Maliki's seizure of more powers and the rise of Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents do not bode well for the future security of Iraq.