Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Attack And Death Statistics For Iraq

The spate of bombings that hit Iraq in April 2009 had people worrying that the country might be falling back into chaos. A series of new reports however show that the number of overall attacks is still far below the levels seen in 2008, but casualties are climbing back up to what they were at the end of last year. Recently the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction released its latest quarterly report, which included new statistics on attacks in Iraq from the U.S. military. Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies also released a report at the end of April on violence in Iraq. Finally, the news services and Iraqi ministries released their monthly totals for deaths in Iraq at the beginning of May. Together all of this information paints a picture of a nation that is much improved from the peak of the war, but still lacks stability and peace.

Throughout 2008 the number of overall attacks took a steady drop across all areas of the country, reaching a plateau in early 2009. A chart provided by the Defense Department on security incidents shows that from November 2007 to March 2008 there were around 550 incidents a week. The security crackdown on the Sadrists in Basra and then Sadr City led to a brief jump in attacks, only to see a steady decline from May to November when incidents went down to about 200-300 per week. From November to April 2009 Iraq saw a new low of approximately 150 incidents per week, the fewest since the U.S. invasion. Most of these attacks were concentrated in just six provinces, Anbar, Tamim, Diyala, Salahaddin, Ninewa and Baghdad.

In terms of raw numbers, attacks recorded by the U.S. military went from an average of 1,772.6 per month from April 1 to July 1, to 1,715.5 per month from July 1 to September 30, then down to 1,169.0 from October 1 to December 31, and then finally taking a huge drop to 323.0 from January 1 to March 20, 2009. The main cause for this decline was the January 2009 provincial elections. In 2005 the Sunnis largely boycotted, and were now eager to gain power. The provinces that had large Sunni populations saw some of the highest turnouts as a result. Since those were also the areas with the most violence, the insurgents seemed to have taken a hiatus to allow the locals to organize and vote, thus accounting for the sharp decline in security incidents.

Total Number of Attacks In Iraq From April 1, 2008-March 20, 2009 From U.S. Military From Least To Most Violent

Province

Total Attacks 4/1/08-7/1/08

Total Attacks 7/1/08-

9/30/08

Total Attacks 10/1/08-

12/31/08

Total Attacks 1/1/09-

3/20/09

Muthanna

2

1

1

1

Karbala

1

4

0

1

Najaf

4

1

2

1

Kurdistan (Dohuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniya)

3

6

3

1

Qadisiyah

17

7

9

2

Dhi-Qar

17

21

7

4

Wasit

34

8

9

8

Maysan

12

43

39

24

Basra

108

26

11

11

Babil

81

54

62

17

Anbar

275

209

162

53

Tamim

248

245

184

73

Diyala

537

533

251

123

Salahaddin

717

482

374

138

Ninewa

1,041

924

511

219

Baghdad

2,221

867

713

293

TOTALS:

5,318

3,431

2,338

969

Avg. Per Month

1,772.6

1,715.5

1,169.0

323.0

The drop in attacks obviously had an impact on casualties. All the major sources of information on deaths in Iraq, Iraq Body Count.org, icasualties.org, the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index, Iraqi ministries, and the Associated Press, all saw a steady decline in deaths from the middle of 2008 to January 2009. ABC News also received statistics from an Iraqi official that Anthony Cordesman published, which showed the same trend. Iraq Body Count for example recorded an average of 538.1 deaths a month from July to December 2008. In January 2009 that dropped to 275. The Iraqi Defense, Interior and Health Ministries found an average of 353.2 deaths per month from September to December 2008, which then dropped to 191 in January. Since the beginning of January however, all the organizations and the Iraqi official found a steady increase in deaths. Icasualties.org and the Iraqi ministries reported that the number of deaths in April 2009 even eclipsed December 2008. Since the voting ended on January 31 and the provincial councils have now all been formed, casualties have gone back up as the insurgents have no reason to hold back anymore. The mass casualty bombings that hit Baghdad in April were a sign of their return.

Iraqi Deaths


Iraq Body Count

icasualties.Org

Brookings Iraq Index

Iraqi Ministries

Associated Press

Iraqi Official (Minus Kurdistan)

July 08

583

419

500

851


865

Aug. 08

591

311

450


475

893

Sep. 08

535

366

400

440

503

979

Oct. 08

527

288

350

317


757

Nov. 08

472

317

270

340


716

Dec. 08

521

320

350

316


668

Jan. 09

275

187

270

191

242

542

Feb. 09

343

202

230

258

288

500

March 09

415

278

260

252

335

463

April 09

358

347

N/A

355

371

677

The Iraqi official mentioned in Cordesman's report also provided numbers on attacks and casualties in Baghdad, the most violent area in the nation. They showed that there were an average of 158.8 attacks per month in the capital from July to December 2008. For the first four months of 2009 that went down to 114.5. The official's statistics also covered wounded and deaths. Those revealed that there is not a direct correlation between the number of security incidents and casualties. For example, in November 2008 there were 159 attacks in Baghdad, one less than the previous month. However those resulted in 621 wounded and 208 deaths in November compared to 419 wounded and 183 fatalities in October. That goes to show that a few bombings can have a dramatic affect on people, while not changing the attack statistics.

Types Of Attacks By Month & Casualties In Baghdad July 08-April 09 (Iraqi Official)


July 08

Aug 08

Sep 08

Oct 08

Nov 08

Dec 08

Jan 09

Feb 09

Mar 09

Apr 09

RPG

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Hand grenade

5

1

5

0

0

0

2

1

0

6

Katyshua

1

2

0

0

2

0

3

0

10

3

Mortar

34

54

46

37

21

29

21

21

30

32

Assassinations

17

17

16

17

19

5

0

13

9

11

Car bombs

6

7

15

5

7

5

0

4

3

13

Suicide bombings

3

1

2

1

2

1

2

0

2

3

Bicycle bombs

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

IEDs

94

92

113

98

80

54

64

71

48

49

Magnetic IEDs

0

0

0

0

28

9

5

5

17

9

Total Attacks

160

174

197

160

159

103

97

115

119

127

Security forces wounded

43

73

95

83

90

39

62

37

34

64

Civilians wounded

324

274

525

336

531

273

392

269

281

558

Total wounded

367

347

620

419

621

312

454

306

315

622

Bodies found

67

61

60

46

38

24

14

12

11

16

Security forces killed

19

18

23

19

22

16

15

9

15

37

Civilians killed

91

97

156

118

148

97

113

71

115

228

Total killed

177

176

239

183

208

137

142

92

211

281

While violence may be down to record lows since the 2003 invasion, that does not mean that Iraq has escaped its troubles. Anthony Cordesman made an important point when he said that there were many Americans who took the drop in casualties in Iraq after the Surge as victory. What the change in strategy created was a new status quo, not an end to the conflict. There are still plenty of political divisions, millions of displaced and refugees, and casualties. The commanding U.S. General Ray Odierno recently said that Iraq could see violence for the next five to fifteen years. That's the long-range timeframe people need to think about, not the recent decline in deaths, or the recent series of bombings.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Iraq Hails Lowest Monthly Death Toll in Three Years," 1/2/09

- "March violence claims 252 Iraqi lives," 4/1/09

Alsumaria, "Iraq death toll lowest since five years," 2/2/09

- "Iraq violence kills 320 people in October," 11/1/08

Associated Press, "April Ends As Deadly Month For U.S. Troops," 5/1/09

Bumiller, Elisabeth, "General Sees a Longer Stay in Iraq Cities for U.S. Troops," New York Times, 5/9/09

Cordesman, Anthony, "Iraq: USCENTCOM and Iraqi Government Estimates of the Trends in the Patterns in Violence and Casualties," Center for Strategic and International Studies, 5/1/09

Gamel, Kim, "Iraq forces gain more control, but lose more lives," Associated Press, 9/30/08

icasualties.org

Iraq Body Count.org

Londono, Ernesto, "U.S. Says Iraq Is Withholding Key Detainee," Washington Post, 5/2/09

O'Hanlon, Michael Campbell, Jason, "Iraq Index," Brookings Institution, 4/30/09

Raghavan, Sudarsan, "Deaths of Iraqis in July Lower Than in May, June," Washington Post, 8/2/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, "Quarterly Report to the United States Congress," 10/30/08

- "Quarterly Report to the United States Congress," 4/30/09

- "Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress," 1/30/09

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Humanitarian Update Iraq, March 2009" United Nations, 4/27/09

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