At least 56 people were reported killed across Baghdad on Tuesday in a series of bombings that coincide with the ten year anniversary of the US bombing campaign known as "shock and awe" and the subsequent US-led ground invasion.
The bombings, which targeted Shia neighborhoods and establishments, also injured nearly 100 other people.
Ten car bombs, including two detonated by suicide bombers, one roadside bomb and two gun attacks struck in and around the Iraqi capital during morning rush hour on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion.
Sunni fighters tied to al-Qaeda have stepped up their campaign of attacks this year in an attempt to trigger sectarian tensions and undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shia-led government.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.
Ongoing sectarian and political violence has been the "new normal" in post-occupation Iraq, betraying US promises that the toppling of Saddam Hussein would welcome in a new era of stability, democracy, and prosperity for ordinary Iraqis.
Though Al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before the US invasion, it now boldly operates throughout the country. Though no responsibility for Tuesday's attacks had been claimed, officials speaking to the Associated Press blamed the group.
AP reports on the wave of Tuesday's bombings:
The violence started at around 8 a.m., when a bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 15. It blew out the eatery's windows and left several cars mangled in the blood-streaked street.
Minutes later, two day laborers were killed and eight were wounded when a roadside bomb hit the place where they gather every day in an area of New Baghdad.
In the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a bomb stuck to the underside of a minibus killed three commuters and wounded seven people. Another car bomb exploded in a commercial street in the same area, killing two people and wounding 11, and yet another bomb struck a police patrol in the neighborhood, killing five people and wounding 13.
Other attacks struck the largely Shiite neighborhoods of Hussainiyah, Zafarniyah, Shula and Utaifiya, as well as the Sunni district of Tarmiyah.
Just outside the capital, a mortar shell landed near a clinic in the town of Taji, killing two people and wounding five. And about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad, in Iskandiriyah, a car bomb exploded near a bus stop, killing five people and wounding 20 others.
As for democracy, Tuesday's attacks have already fulfilled their likely intent by pushing back planned provincial elections.
According to Al-Jazeera:
The attacks came as the cabinet announced on Tuesday that it would postpone provincial elections in two provinces that were scheduled for April by up to six months over security concerns.
Polls in Anbar province in west Iraq and Nineveh in the north have been delayed, Ali Mussawi, the Iraqi premier's spokesman said.
Mussawi said that candidates have been threatened and killed, while there were also requests for a delay from the two provinces.
Several provincial elections candidates have also been killed in attacks in recent weeks.
Overall, as Iraqi professor of sociology at London Metropolitan University Sami Ramadan recently commented, the US war on Iraq has been an "unmitigated disaster."
And what of democracy, supposedly the point of it all? The US-led occupying authorities nurtured a "political process" and a constitution designed to sow sectarian and ethnic discord. Having failed to crush the resistance to direct occupation, they resorted to divide-and-rule to keep their foothold in Iraq. Using torture, sectarian death squads and billions of dollars, the occupation has succeeded in weakening the social fabric and elevating a corrupt ruling class that gets richer by the day, salivating at the prospect of acquiring a bigger share of Iraq's natural resources, which are mostly mortgaged to foreign oil companies and construction firms.
Warring sectarian and ethnic forces, either allied to or fearing US influence, dominate the dysfunctional and corrupt Iraqi state institutions, but the US embassy in Baghdad – the biggest in the world – still calls the shots. Iraq is not really a sovereign state, languishing under the punitive Chapter VII of the UN charter.
Political ironies abound. We have a so-called Shia-controlled government, yet most of Iraq's Shia population remain the poorest of all. And we have an Iraqi Kurdistan that is a separate state in all but name. The Kurdistan regional government is in alliance with the US and Turkey, a ruthless oppressor of the Kurdish people. It also has growing links to Israel (which it is at pains to deny).
Meanwhile, conflict over oil and territory is aggravating relations between the centre and the Kurdistan government. Popular anger against corruption and human rights violations is growing; for weeks now, we have had large-scale protests in the west of the country.
Tuesday's violence in Baghdad—catastrophic in its own right and immediate context—also speaks to the ten years of bombings and death that began with a slogan: "Shock and Awe."
In the end and for many, the US legacy in Iraq can only be measured in the accumulation of destruction that followed the invasion and the invitation to violence that lingers still.