The bad: Six explosions ripped through the Shiite city of Karbala and four more erupted in Baghdad. At leasts 143 Iraqis and Iranian pilgrims were killed, according to U.S. officials.
“Witnesses in both cities described horrific scenes of blood and body parts, of suffering and sorrow.” (Free Washington Post site registration may be required.) The attacks came as Iraqis and pilgrims from other Islamic countries gathered for Ashura, the holiest day on the Muslim calendar.
"The terrorists had this well planned out," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. "They had obviously planned this for an extensive period of time. They wore clothing, more than likely, which would hide the fact that they were wearing explosive vest devices. . . . It certainly ranks among one of the days where the terrorists have decided to send a significant message to the coalition and to the people of Iraq."
Blogger Gregory Djerejian recalls last month's message by a Jordanian-born terrorist that identified Shiites as a threat worse, even, than the U.S. presence:
“They are infiltrating like snakes to reign over the army and police apparatus, which is the strike force and iron fist in our Third World, and to take complete control over the economy like their tutors the Jews. As the days pass, their hopes are growing that they will establish a Shi`i state stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and ending in the Cardboard Kingdom [Saudi Arabia] of the Gulf.”
The U.S. has a $10 million reward on the head of the author, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose goal is to sabotage the handover of governing authority to the Iraqis, now scheduled for June 30, and possibly foment an Iraqi civil war with bloody attacks on Shites.
The good: Iraq’s Interim Governing Council has finally approved a “fundamental law,” which will form the basis for government until a constitutional convention can be held next year. There was no resolution of many of the thorniest issues, as Juan Cole notes. But the agreement does keep the timetable for transferring governing authority from the U.S. to the Iraqis.
David Adesnik at Oxblog rounds up some other good news: Oil production in Iraq finally is about to surpass prewar levels and could increase revenue for Iraq to $14 billion this year from $5 billion last year. At the same time, attacks on U.S. troops have been cut in half in the past three months (even as attacks on Iraqis have increased).