Fast-moving events in the Middle East – including Syria’s descent into a bloody civil war, the continued talk of conflict with Iran, and Egypt’s ongoing transition – have pushed Iraq to the sidelines of U.S. attention over the past year. But yesterday, Iraq reemerged as a series of attacks across the county made yesterday the deadliest day in Iraq in 2012. The key thing to watch in the coming weeks is how the Iraqi government responds, because its reaction will be the most important factor to shape the trajectory of what happens next.
The attacks raised further questions about the Iraqi government’s ability to keep its people safe in the face of ongoing threats from terrorist groups, most prominently, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The day before these attacks, AQI leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi gave advance warning that a new offensive would begin soon in a 33-minute video posted on the web. And the terrorists hit a wide range of targets spread across the country – police stations, military bases, and civilian targets.This article was originally published in CNN.