"Far from becoming a functioning democracy, far becoming a stable state, far from winning the war in Iraq, Iraq remains a highly precarious state," says Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y. "The central political conflict has not been resolved ... [and] as long as Iraq remains sectarian-based you're going to have instability and violence."
On Thursday, two separate bomb blasts left at least 60 people dead and more than 110 injured in Baghdad and Muqdadiya, north of the capital city. The attacks resembled past incidents linked to AQI, but it remains unclear who was responsible for them. Earlier this month, AQI launched a coordinated strike detonating seven car bombs in Baghdad that killed at least 37 people.
US officials have emphasized that, despite the renewed violence, US and Iraqi forces are making progress in the fight against remaining insurgent and terrorist elements. On President Obama's recent visit to Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top military commander in Iraq, assured him that violence was at 2003 levels, before the insurgency began.
"These attacks [on Thursday] are an attempt to incite violence, but the Iraqi people have shown that they are rejecting this bankrupt philosophy," writes Lt. John Brimley, a spokesman for the Multi-National Force – Iraq, in an e-mail to The Christian Science Monitor.