Smoke rises near the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, shortly after a blast, in Baghdad October 25, 2009. Twin car bombs targeting two government buildings killed at least 75 people and wounded 460 in central Baghdad on Sunday, police and health officials said, in the bloodiest attack in the capital for two months.
While Sunday’s 2 bus bombs in Baghdad that left over a hundred dead and 500 wounded was a horrific reminder that “evil-doers” and “deadenders” still seek to derail the road to freedom and democracy for Iraq, ordinary Iraqis, who have endured so much, seem undaunted and optimistic about their future.
David Ignatius of WaPo apparently was flying overhead in a Black Hawk with General David Petraeus on the day of the bombings. Baghdad was so much abuzz with construction and commerce activities, that they did not realize that terrorists exploded two massive car bombs at the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial administration. This is how he describes the reaction of his Iraqi friends, and it is the correct message to send to terrorists (you know? “Go shopping“?):
But my Iraqi friends were surprisingly upbeat about the future, even after Sunday’s terrible bombings. “In every sector, Iraq is coming back to its normal mode,” said one. “There is no way it will slip back,” insisted the other. I wondered at their confidence on such a day, but that is part of the Iraqi toughness.
Rather than talking about the bombings, we talked politics. My friends sharply criticized the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. But as we were debating, one turned to me with a smile: “Here we are talking about who will run the government after the elections. Could you do that in any other country in the Arab world?”
As night fell, Petraeus and his party flew to Camp Victory, near the airport. “Baghdad can be a cruel place,” he told me. “You have to keep a grip on your hopes.” But as the Black Hawk skimmed over the city, Baghdad seemed to be teeming again, despite the morning’s events.
Petraeus surveyed the cityscape at night. “People are back out in the parks,” he said. “All the lights are on, cars are driving around.” I asked later if he thought Sunday’s violence would lead people to request that American troops return to the cities, and he shook his head: “Iraq is a sovereign country. Iraqis will respond to this.”