In Iraq, more than two dozen people -- including one U.S. solider -- have been killed in recent days, all part of an uprising in violence that comes on the heels of the country's parliamentary elections.
It also comes over a period of relative calm, the same type of calm that descended after January's election and October's constitutional referendum and in each case, insurgent violence returned as strongly as ever.
According to MSNBC analyst and terrorism expert Walid Phares, the pattern of violence is likely one that has been planned by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorist groups.
"Al-Zarqawi and his allies have learned from previous elections if they're going obstruct elections, they may have a problem within their own community," Phares told MSNBC's Amy Robach on Tuesday. "So this time what they did was let elections happen and then at the end of this process look at how much frustration exists among some of the political parties and then right away, made those attacks so that the entire community and the international community will think that basically, this is a reaction by the Sunnis to the government -- a very smart move on behalf of the insurgents."
In addition to violence, the post-election period in Iraq has included widespread protests from groups claiming the results are fraudulent. Phares told Robach this activity is a sure sign of progress in the country.
"Look at the results of the elections anywhere say in Latin America or the Mediterranean and Asia. You always have people are who not satisfied with the results of the election, even here in the West and they will protest," he said.
Phares said no matter what happens with the insurgency and level of violence in the country, he believes the political process will continue to develop.
"From my contacts with Iraqi politicians, activists, intellectuals and others, what they say in general terms is that the political process is moving forward," he said. "That has nothing to do with the insurgency. The insurgency will be met by Iraqi forces when they will take it over from our forces. In the next few months what we're going to see is the emergence of a coalition government, the beginning of a reduction of American led forces including redeployment from urban zones. And the big test is going to be when the Iraqi army and security forces are going to meet those challenges of the terrorists."
"The formation of Iraqi armed forces and that deployment ... is the maker or breaker of success in Iraq," he added.
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