It was a throwback to the bad old days. Car bomb after car bomb, more than 10 in all, blasting Iraqi civilians in the middle of a blazing summer. Suicide bombers and gunmen targeting security forces. The figures were grim: At least 85 people were killed and more than 300 wounded in 17 cities stretching from the north to the south of Iraq.Monday was the kind of day that many Iraqis had seen before and hoped they would never see again. Even though no group claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, the use of suicide bombers and the targeting of civilians pointed to al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI in U.S. military shorthand, as the most likely culprit. “AQI remains a determined and capable threat against the Iraqi people,” Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, wrote in an email. “This has been our shared assessment with the Iraqi government for some time.”
With decreasing levels of violence in Iraq over much of the past year, media coverage has focused mostly on the war in Afghanistan. In many ways, Iraq has become the forgotten war. There are still roughly 45,000 U.S. troops in the country, but they will be out by the end of the year unless the U.S. and Iraqi government reach a new agreement. That brings up one key question: Can the Iraqi security forces secure the country on their own?