The current wave of insurgent attacks across Iraq is motivated by two immediate goals: take credit for the withdrawal of U.S. forces as a defeat for America and intimidate the Iraqi government from extending the withdrawal deadline beyond the end of the year.
And the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is also a time when insurgents often prefer to strike hard to link their struggle to Islam. But the key question now is whether the Iraqi insurgency has returned to the higher level of conflict seen before the U.S. military surge. Unfortunately, some trends appear to point toward the answer being "yes." The Iraqi security forces' poor training, morale, and performance remain endemic problems. Recall, for example, that when the Sunni insurgent group "Islamic State of Iraq" launched a major assault in March on the government compound of Salah al-Din's provincial administration in Tikrit, it took a joint U.S.-Iraqi team to reclaim the provincial government building. Even so, the attack left over 60 dead and more than 100 injured.