Iraq has been rocked by a series of blasts that have killed scores of people. The latest, which took place in Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province, targeted a meeting between the Awakening Councils, insurgents who switched sides to become key US allies and the Iraqi military.
The attacks have exposed the severe problems faced by the Awakening Councils following the US withdrawal from the restive Sunni Muslim province – once the centre of an insurgency that humiliated the US army.
Awakening Councils leaders are complaining that they have been abandoned by the US. Many live in fear of reprisals for collaborating with the occupation.
The death rate among Iraqis has reached the 2007-8 levels, one of the bloodiest years of the occupation.
Iraq continues to reel from the occupation. Although the US has been gradually drawing down its troops to send them Afghanistan, some 130,000 soldiers remain – double the number in Afghanistan.
Although the disappearance of US troops from major urban centres to giant bases has greatly reduced violence, none of the problems that dogged the occupation have been resolved.
The country continues to be plagued by power cuts, high unemployment and ethnic and sectarian conflicts. Now a severe drought has destroyed the agricultural sector.
The latest bombings are said to be the work of insurgents opposed to the Shia Muslim dominated government and the Awakening Councils.