Just got an email from a friend who sent me a BBC link - seems there have been about 10 coordinated explosions in Baghdad, many of which appear to be car bombs in primarily Shia' areas of Baghdad. Just a quick news update.
Officials said at least 10 car and roadside bombs were detonated.
The incident comes after at least 52 people were killed in Baghdad on Sunday, as police stormed a church where they were being held hostage
These explosions come after months of political deadlock in Baghdad between the government of Prime Minister Maliki and his main rival Ayad Allawi. Allawi is a former Ba'athist who, although he is Shia', has strong support in the Sunni community. Maliki supposedly recently reached an accommodation with the Sadr Movement as well as the Kurdish political parties sufficient to form the next government. Maliki has also been gradually withdrawing support for some of the "Awakening" militias, who had been (ruthlessly) controlling some of the more fundamentalist Sunni organizations often lumped together under the rubric "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia".
The car bomb campaign is most likely a response by these Sunni fundamentalist groups. The concern is that some Sunni Awakening members may be turning a blind eye on bomb-makers due to anger at Maliki and the outcome of the election.
Ayad Allawi, who won the most seats, is short of a majority. None of the Shia' political parties want to join him in coalition, and Allawi has not been able to attract any Kurdish support since the Kurds still see their biggest threat as Sunni nationalists and their biggest objective to maintain autonomy and not lose sections of Ninevah and Kirkuk provinces. This leaves the #1 vote earner unable to form a government - Kurds and Shia' together are a considerable majority in Iraq, and ethnicity plays a big role in coalition forming. Probably Maliki will need to bring in someone from Allawi's group but it's a stalemate and the deep wound between Shia' and Sunni in Iraq remains unhealed. A whole lot of violence by Sunni car bombers could spark some really vicious retribution, setting the process further back.
All of our staff are OK, including our very brave Baghdad staff.
Update: A suicide bomber was caught trying to enter Erbil, in the Kurdistan region. Kurdish security is pretty good and they stop these sorts of plots from time to time. No way of knowing if these two incidents are linked.
Also there's no way of knowing whether or not this is in any way linked to the US elections - my guess is probably not.