“There’s still a tendency to see these things in Sunni-Shia terms. But the Middle East is going to have to overcome that.” – Condoleezza Rice, January 2007.
Seven years later, Washington is even more clueless than it was then.
“Explosions at Iraq election rally in Baghdad ‘kill 31,'” BBC, April 25, 2014:
At least 31 people have been killed in Iraq as a series of blasts targeted a Shia election rally in Baghdad.
Several people were seriously injured in the attack, which took place at a campaign rally for the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq party.
The attack comes less than a week before Iraqis are due to head to the polls in parliamentary elections.
Iraq has been enduring the worst unrest since it pulled back from the brink of civil war in 2008.
A statement attributed to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIL) has claimed the group was behind the attack, but the report has not yet been verified.
Three bombs exploded as people left the rally, says the BBC’s Nahed Abouzeid in Baghdad.
The first two blasts were caused by truck bombs and the third by a roadside bomb.
Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq is backed by Iran and is a public supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This is likely to have antagonised Sunni groups in both countries, our correspondent says.
Senior Ahl al-Haq official, Wahab al-Taie, said after the attack: “This is a desperate act that will not stop us from moving on and challenging. They wanted to send us a message and they did, but that will not deter us.”
The rally had been addressed by cleric Sheik Qais al-Khazali, who told the crowd: “We are ready and prepared to defend this nation. Let it be known that Asaib will be the remedy.”
Next Wednesday’s election will be the first since the US pulled out combat troops in 2011.
More than 9,000 candidates will compete for 328 parliamentary seats, but there will be no voting in parts of Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where security forces still battle Islamist and tribal militants for control of the provincial capital Ramadi and nearby Fallujah.