A half year after the U.S. military left Iraq, dire predictions seem to be coming true: The country is mired in violence and the government is on the verge of collapsing. With no relief in sight, there's growing talk of Iraq as a failed state as al-Qaida's local wing staged near daily attacks that killed at least 234 people in June.Iraq no longer suffers widespread retaliatory killings between Sunni and Shiite extremists that brought the country to the brink of civil war. But the spike in violence heightens fears that Iraq could limp along for years as an unstable and dangerous country.June was the second-deadliest month since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in mid-December as insurgents exploited the political struggles between the country's ethnic and sectarian factions. More significant than the numbers was the fact that insurgents appeared able to sustain the level of violence over a longer period than usual. There was a major deadly bombing or shooting rampage almost every three days, many targeting Shiite pilgrims.
Violence has been steady across Iraq so far this year, but the levels of attacks in June soared beyond the occasional, if spectacular, wave of bombings that is al- Qaida's usual pattern. Victims mostly have been Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces – three of al-Qaida's favorite targets.
Al-Qaida front group the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for a June 13 wave of nearly two dozen bombings nationwide that killed 72 Iraqis. The coordination, sophistication and targets of several other attacks also bore the hallmarks of the terror network.
Some analysts believe Iraq is turning into a failed state. This month, the U.S.-based Fund for Peace ranked Iraq No. 9 on its annual Top Ten list of failed states worldwide. The nonpartisan research group ranked 178 nations and blamed the persistent security problems in Iraq on the inability to overcome long-standing ethnic and sectarian tensions.
Despite the continued bombings and other attacks, Iraqis have not returned to the sectarian warfare that killed tens of thousands of people as violence peaked in 2006-2007. Shiite militias have shown restraint even as a spate of bombings targeted Shiite pilgrims, shrines and government leaders.