What they’re trying to do here, very clearly, is show the surge isn’t working by demonstrating that even the safest part of the city is more vulnerable than it’s been. That’s why they’ve been focusing more on the Green Zone in the past few weeks. It started with the rocket attack during Maliki’s presser with Ban Ki-Moon, then another rocket attack killed an American soldier, then they found two suicide vests somewhere in the area. The fact that the bomber attacked in the cafeteria instead of the main assembly hall, where he could have done a lot more damage, makes me think he was probably a menial employee, not someone in an MP’s security detail (although I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong). Assuming they did a diligent job with the dogs as people were coming in, it also means the bomb was hidden somewhere in the building before the doors opened this morning.
The audience here wasn’t just the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. The terrorists know the Democrats want us out bad, so this attack was also meant to panic the Dems to get them to increase the pressure on President Bush and expedite their efforts to get our troops out of Iraq. Of course, the Democrats will fall for it.
Captain Ed sees this as possibly being the beginning of our defeat:
This will probably create an almost insurmountable problem for Nouri al-Maliki and his government. Already, Iraqi politicians have declared the new security plan a failure. They will not allow this attack to go without some accountability from the government and perhaps an abandonment of the new joint Iraqi-US plan put in place earlier this year. That would put the Bush administration in a difficult position; if the Iraqis declare the new Baghdad security plan a failure, his domestic political support for the war will collapse entirely.
The next few days will be critical for Maliki and Bush. This could wind up as this war’s version of the Tet attack on the US Embassy in Saigon, an event that provided the tipping point for American patience in a foreign war.
Update: Time reports that the suicide bomber was a body guard for a member of parliament and that the bombing was meant to undermine the reconciliation process:
The extremists want to stop efforts of reconciliation between the Iraqi government and an Iraqi-led, nationalist faction of the insurgency that has turned on al-Qaeda in recent weeks. That was the likely motive in an earlier attack on March 23, when Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was hospitalized after an attack reportedly carried out by a guard who detonated a suicide vest at al-Zubaie’s compound on the edge of the Green Zone. Al-Zubaie, a Sunni from a powerful tribe west of Baghdad, is an important promoter of the reconciliation policy.
Update II: The Iraqi parliament is meeting tomorrow to address and condemn the bombing:
BAGHDAD (Thomson Financial) – Iraq’s parliament will hold an extraordinary session tomorrow to condemn ‘terrorism’ following a suicide bombing that killed three people including at least two MPs, the speaker said.
‘The parliament will hold a session tomorrow as a challenge to terrorism,’ Sunni speaker Mahmud Mashhadani told state television Al-Iraqiya after today’s attack.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the suicide attack inside Iraq’s parliament building as a ‘criminal and cowardly act’ and vowed such violence would not weaken MPs’ resolve.
‘We strongly condemn this criminal and cowardly attack, and this mean act will not weaken the will of the representatives of the Iraqi people,’ Maliki said in a statement issued by his office.