HEADLINES -- August 25, 2010 at 10:26 AM ET
Wednesday: Bombings in Iraq Kill 50; New Monsoons Threaten Pakistan
A U.S. soldier looks at the scene of a car bombing in the city of Kirkuk, one of a series of apparently coordinated attacks across Iraq on Wednesday. Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images.
Bombers and gunmen launched a series of attacks against Iraqi government forces on Wednesday, killing at least 50 people. The attacks came one day after the number of U.S. troops fell below 50,000 for the first time since the start of the war.
Bomb attacks were reported in 12 towns and cities, including Baghdad, Ramadi, Karbala, Kirkuk, Kut and Basra. No group has yet claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but the BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad said there is a suggestion they could be linked to a branch of al-Qaida in Iraq.
"[T]he attacks could be a response to a claim by the ministry of the interior that they had broken up an al-Qaeda cell in Baghdad....Al-Qaeda might be saying: "'You may have done that, but we're still here.'"
The New York Times' Anthony Shadid reports from Baghdad:
"[C]oming a week before the United States declares the end of combat operations here....Wednesday was seemingly the insurgents' reply: Despite suggestions otherwise, insurgents proved their ability to launch coordinated attacks virtually anywhere in Iraq, capitalizing on the government's dysfunction and perceptions of American vulnerability."
Writing just hours before the attacks, Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks:
"[Bottom line: The Iraqi mess is far from over, and I don't think the Americans have extricated themselves. The best we may have done is reduce the American presence sufficiently to let natural political forces begin to work and Iraqi politicians to break through the current stalemate. This is likely to be a violent process."
And Lara Setrakian asks, "Beirut in Baghdad: Is the 'Lebanonization' of Iraq complete?"
On Wednesday's NewsHour, Margaret Warner will speak with Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, about the recent violence and the American presence.
New Monsoons Force More Evacuations in Pakistan
Some 200,000 people have been evacuated in southern Pakistan as new monsoons threaten to flood the region, where dozens of villages are already submerged.
On Tuesday, the United Nations said 800,000 people could be reached only by air, and it called for 40 more helicopters from the international community to help ship aid to people isolated by the flooding, The New York Times reports.
Report: CIA Sees Increasing Threat From Yemen
The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal both report Wednesday that a new assessment of al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen is prompting senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there. The officials told the Post that operations could include "a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes."
The Journal reports:
"U.S. officials believe al Qaeda in Yemen is now collaborating more closely with allies in Pakistan and Somalia to plot attacks against the U.S., spurring the prospect that the administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen."
Voters in five states went to the polls Tuesday for primaries in Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Vermont and a runoff in Oklahoma. Read about the results in The Morning Line.