A series of bombs tore through crowds of Shi'ite pilgrims celebrating a major ritual across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 32 people, mostly women and children
"The attacks, at the height of Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein and defines Shi'ite Islam, underscored Iraq's fragile security as the last U.S. troops withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
In the first attack, a car bomb blasted the end of one procession in the city of Hilla, killing 16 mainly women and children, wounding 45 others and leaving bloody pools, shoes and torn clothes scattered across the street,
police and witnesses said.
"A powerful and horrible explosion went off behind us, smoke filled the area," said Hadi al-Mamouri, who was taking part in the ritual. "I could only hear the screams of women and I could only see the bodies of women and children on the street."
A second attack involving two roadside bombs killed at least six more people at another procession in Hilla and wounded 18 more, police sources said.
"I was shopping nearby, and suddenly a bomb went off as the procession reached the intersection. People were scattered on the ground and everyone started rescuing the injured," Ammar Hussein, 55, said at the scene of the second blast.
Authorities in Hilla imposed a city-wide ban on cars to help prevent more attacks."
"U.S. and Western power in the region is weakening, and that is leaving a vacuum - most notably in Iraq - and you can see the main stakeholders in the region reacting to Iran's readiness to fill that vacuum," says Reva Bhalla, head of analysis at US private intelligence company Stratfor."
In Iraq, the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of this year leaves more room for both Iran and Sunni Arab neighbors to intervene through proxy militias. At worst, that could reignite the Sunni-Shia infighting that nearly tore the country apart during the US occupation.
"A proxy Saudi-Iranian war in Iraq represents a very considerable threat to oil supplies," said Alastair Newton, chief political analyst at Japanese bank Nomura.
Many such confrontations across the region appear escalating fast - and becoming much harder for Washington and its allies to control."
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but the long-term costs of caring for those wounded in battle is on path to rival the costs of the Vietnam War
"While Vietnam extracted a far higher death toll — 58,000 compared with 6,300 so far in the war on terror — the number of documented disabilities from recent veterans is approaching the size of that earlier conflict, according to a McClatchy analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs data.
The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and detailing all disability payments to veterans of all wars, show that veterans leaving the military in recent years are filing for and receiving compensation for more injuries than did their fathers and grandfathers.
For soldiers now coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, this ongoing variation in an already-clogged disability system means the size of monthly compensation checks might be a quirk of geography.
Given the nature of today's disabilities, it's difficult to calculate how much it all might ultimately cost. "We're in somewhat uncharted waters," said Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University professor who has conducted an exhaustive study on the long-term costs of the wars."
The failures adds up as well
"Tthe U.S. would try to use its own leverage in the international financial system to impose its sanctions policy on more reluctant third parties such as China, Russia, Turkey, India and Brazil."
So expect the drumbeat of war to continue, for now. Hopefully there won't be a crescendo any time soon.
More importantly, it remains to be seen whether China will allow its prime debtor nation to use the world's banking system to force Beijing and others to reluctantly comply with U.S. foreign policy.
the Obama administration, facing a tough reelection battle in a season in which willingness to confront Iran is this year's version of the test of loyalty to Israel."
The European Union is becoming skeptical about slapping sanctions on imports of Iranian oil, diplomats and traders say
"Oil accounts for 50 percent of Iranian budget revenues, and those arguing for sanctions say they can deprive Tehran of billions of dollars and derail what the West sees as Iran's attempts to build a nuclear bomb.
As awareness grows that the embargo could damage its own economy without doing much to undercut to Iran's oil revenues.
one trader joked.
"Maybe the aim of sanctions is to help Italy, Spain and Greece to collapse and make the EU a smaller club,"
With 100% accuracy inside the May 15th Prophecy written at LastDayWatchers