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Baghdad Market Blast Increases Tensions Before June 30 US Pullout from Iraqi Cities

By Edward Yeranian
26 June 2009

The second major bomb blast in Baghdad in 48 hours has left at least 13 people dead and over 40 wounded, according to Iraqi security officials. The attacks came as US forces prepare to pull out of most Iraqi cities, towns and villages on June 30.

Iraqi police and local workers swept up broken glass and carried off the burnt wreckage of several dozen motorcycles, following an early morning blast at Baghdad's top motorcycle market in the Nahda district of the city.

Reports say that a booby-trapped motorcycle filled with nails and ball-bearings went off around mid-morning, when the market was crowded with shoppers leisurely going about their business on the muslim day of rest.

Friday's explosion was the fourth major blast in Iraq since the beginning of June, and police officials say the death toll for the month has already exceeded the figure of 155 Iraqis killed in May.

Analyst Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group says that those who are fomenting trouble in Iraq now think that they might be able to push the United States to change its plans by increasing violence. But he says he doubts they will be successful.

"They're thinking that maybe if they can force or convince the Americans to stay that this will be highly unpopular with the Iraqi public and would create other problems for the government; so that is their strategy. But, effectively, I don't think that the violence is going to go up a lot in these areas, because, in any case, the Americans are not really in these areas. So, it doesn't really have a direct relationship between these attacks and the American presence," said Hiltermann.

The Iraqi parliament has summoned top security officials to discuss the fragile security situation, Monday, in the lead up to the June 30th US troop withdrawal.

The United States agreed to withdraw its forces from Iraqi towns and cities by June 30th in a new security pact with the Iraqi government, signed last November. All U.S. forces are due to withdraw from the Iraq by December 2011.

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