by Ray Fleming

The explosions in ten Iraq cities and towns killed at least forty-five people and injured more than two hundred. That was bad enough but the co-ordinated nature of the bombings and their distribution through every province, except the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, sent a chilling warning that these were the work of a single organisation -- most probably, in the view of the Iraq government, Al-Qaeda.

The timing of the attacks also seemed to have been carefully considered --coinciding with the date of the start of the UK-US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and also anticipating the planned Arab League summit meeting in Baghdad next week.

This meeting will be the first to be held in Iraq for twenty years and it was being referred to as evidence of how Iraq is re-emerging as an independent nation after more than eight years of mainly US occupation. Instead there will be doubts about the security of the Arab League's meeting and also concern that after several years of training and re-equipping by US forces, before their departure late last year, Iraq's security services are still worringly ineffective. And at a tangent this must also raise doubts about the ability of US and Nato training in Afghanistan to make that country's security services competent to deal with the Taliban and other aggression when western forces depart.

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