Washington must reconnect with Iraqi religious leaders.
US and Iraqi officials are blaming Al Qaeda in Iraq for a disturbing spike in suicide bombings. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the US military commander in Iraq, says the attacks over the last month are intended to "garner attention and spark sectarian discord" as US troops ready to withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30.
Indeed, the bombings have been carried out by Sunni insurgents who are targeting Shiite neighborhoods – but not all of the insurgents are acting on behalf of Al Qaeda, which is also made up of Sunnis.
That, at least, is how an Anglican priest in Baghdad is reading the surge in violence. Some of the attacks are also a sign of anger that the new Obama administration is not listening to Sunni religious leaders: "We've been told that the violence will get worse until the Americans wake up to the fact that the religious leaders will be listened to," says Canon Andrew White, of St. George's Church in Baghdad.
This is not idle chatter. Mr. White is one of the most trusted figures in Iraq, having served there for 11 years. Since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, he's worked quietly behind the scenes to bring together Sunni, Shiite, Christian, and other religious leaders – as well as Kurds – in this country of deep sectarian and ethnic division.