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There has been an increase in the number of deadly bombings in Iraq in recent months. On August 10th in Baghdad, 11 bombings, mostly against Shiite targets, killed 22 people and injured dozens more. Another deadly attack was carried out in the village of Khazna, home to members of Iraq's tiny Shabak minority. Two large truck bombs exploded, killing 35 people and injuring 130. These and similar bombings are a blatant attempt by religious extremists to stoke Sunni-Shiite tensions. But so far, these efforts to foment sectarian conflict have failed.
One reason may be that Iraqis of all religions have a great deal at stake in a stable and democratic Iraq. Sheik Khudair al-Allawi is the Shiite imam of a mosque bombed recently. He said, "The sectarian card is an old card and no one is going to play it anymore. We know what they want, and we'll just be patient." Shiites comprise 60 percent of Iraq's population and for the first time in a thousand years they have a significant role in governing Iraq. Even some of the most violent of Shiite extremists are now interested in joining the political process. The Iraqi government announced that Asa'ib al-Haq, one of the groups that continued to fight after other Shiites had stopped in 2008, has renounced violence against Iraqis.
Shiite religious leaders have instructed their followers not to engage in reprisals against Sunnis. In turn, Sunni leaders have publicly condemned attacks on Shiites. Majid al-Asadi, a cleric in Najaf said, "We will not react against these efforts to ignite sectarian conflict because that is exactly what our enemies want and not what our Iraqi people want."
As U.S. forces continue to draw down, it will increasingly fall to Iraq's security forces to preserve the peace. Iraq's political future depends on its citizens having faith in the government to defend all Iraqis against extremist violence.
The United States joins leaders of all communities in Iraq in condemning the bombings that have taken place over the past several weeks in Iraq. "These attacks," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a written statement, "are the reprehensible acts of extremists who continue to attempt to ignite violence between people who desire to live in peace despite being from different sectarian and ethnic groups." Those individuals or groups responsible for these horrific acts should be pursued and brought to justice in accordance with Iraqi law.