IRAQI resistance fighters have set out their stall in no uncertain fashion with a wave of coordinated strikes across the country, reports The New York Times.
In attacks in 13 towns and cities, from southernmost Basra to restive Mosul in the north, insurgents deployed their full arsenal: hit-and-run shootings, roadside mines and more than a dozen car bombs.
The toll was in the dozens, but the symbolism underscored a theme of America’s experience here: its deadlines, including the Aug. 31 date to end combat operations, have rarely reflected the tumultuous reality on the ground and have often been accompanied by a wave of insurgent attacks.
“The message the insurgents want to deliver to the Iraqi people and the politicians is that we exist, and we choose the time and place,” said Wael Abdel-Latif, a judge and former lawmaker. “They are carrying out such attacks when the Americans are still here, so just imagine what they can do after the Americans leave.”
In coming days, the Obama administration will seek to portray the reduction in troops here to fewer than 50,000, reached Tuesday, as a turning point in seven years of invasion, occupation and war. President Obama will deliver a speech on Tuesday marking the deadline. The next day, the mission will be renamed “New Dawn” at a ceremony expected to draw much of the military brass to a sprawling base near the Baghdad airport.
Throughout the partial withdrawal, American officials have insisted that, while work remains, Iraq’s army and police force are ready to inherit sole control over security here.
Military officials have said they believe that insurgents number only in the hundreds, and the military has issued a daily drumbeat of announcements that leaders and cadres in the insurgency have been arrested or killed in American-Iraqi operations.Wednesday’s attacks, which killed at least 51 people, many of them police officers, were seemingly the insurgents’ reply.