BAGHDAD - Iraq's Western-backed government - facing intense pressure to address security lapses after suicide bombings killed 127 people in the capital - ordered a shake-up yesterday in the country's military leadership.
The angry mood that led Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to replace Baghdad's top military commander reveals a stark psychological shift among Iraqis who once accepted such violence as routine and are now demanding someone pay a political price.
Al-Maliki appealed for Iraqis to be patient as he signaled more changes might be ahead. The prime minister was expected to attend a special parliamentary session today, where lawmakers demanded his security ministers answer for lapses that allowed for the attacks.
It was unclear whether the replacement of Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar would quiet outraged lawmakers, who are questioning how suicide bombers managed to launch multiple attacks Tuesday in heavily guarded central Baghdad. The blasts wounded more than 500.
Much of al-Maliki's appeal was aimed at calming anger that has united Iraq's ethnic and sectarian rivals - from Kurd to Arab, Shiite to Sunni - with their calls on Iraq's interior and defense ministers to resign.
"They have proved failures," said Saadi al-Barzanji, a Kurdish lawmaker.
Top security officials have twice failed to appear after being called before lawmakers. Those requests followed suicide bombings against government buildings Aug. 19 and Oct. 25. More than 250 were killed in the earlier attacks.
Late yesterday, al-Maliki appointed Lt. Gen. Ahmed Hashim Ouda to head Baghdad's military operations, according to state television.
Ouda has been a close political ally of al-Maliki and belongs to his Dawa party. He fought in the Iran-Iraq war, commanding an army division, and led an Iraqi army division during the 1991 Gulf War.
The prime minister previously has not asked any of his top security advisers to step down, but he now may have little choice. Al-Maliki has been running for re-election on a platform of improved security, and a lack of response could cost the prime minister and his party votes.
The U.S. has refrained from commenting publicly about the security lapses.