Snapshots of a forgotten war

Bill Neely

Former International Editor

People and security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk Credit: AP Photo/Emad Matti

They are snapshots of a forgotten conflict; one that most people can't bear to read or think about any more.

This is Iraq. And this is carnage. Another day of slaughter in the land many in the West like to argue is better, safer, calmer now.

It didn't look that way today in a dozen Iraqi cities where twenty six explosions killed around fifty people and injured up to two hundred.

The bombs ripped through a roll call of Iraq's biggest cities. Any three or four of these attacks would be serious - this looked like war.

The targets and the timing were quite deliberate - the deadliest attack was in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, where two bombs killed 13 people and wounded 48.

One mass attack was foiled - nine bombs were found in just one city, Baquba.

But not a single bomber was caught.

The insurgents behind the attacks are determined to prove that Iraq's government can't govern, control or secure a country so desperately in need of security.

It was a vision of the past; rush hour mass murder at markets and checkpoints.

Just another day in nine years of mayhem, that was supposed to be over. British and American troops were meant to leave Iraq secure. It's not.

Exactly nine years after coalition forces attacked Iraq, the legacy of that war still tears at the country and devours its people in sectarian conflict.

But the latest attacks were a strike at Iraq's future too. The timing was quite deliberate. In a week Iraq will host its first International Summit in twenty two years. The Arab League will meet in Baghdad. In a twist of terrible irony they will discuss the mayhem; in neighbouring Syria.

People inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Kirkuk, Iraq Credit: AP Photo/Emad Matti

Iraq's government wants to show the world it can look after its own security after the withdrawal of American troops in December.

Yet a month ago dozens of bombs went off in a single day killing sixty. Sunni insurgents have vowed to topple Iraq's Shia dominated government.

So, as the US and Britain promise once again to leave behind another stable country after they withdraw- this time it's Afghanistan - Iraq remains a vision of the chaos foreign armies can leave behind when their leaders decide they've had enough.