Monday, August 3, 2009

A Look At Violence In Iraq In July 2009

All the major sources on Iraq noted a drop in deaths for the month of July 2009. This is despite a high number of mass casualty bombings. The pattern being set in 2009 is one month of high casualties, followed by a drop, and then an increase.

All four organizations that have up-to-date statistics on deaths in Iraq recorded a drop in July compared to June 2009. That ranged from 420 by Iraq Body Count, the group with historically the highest numbers, to 308 of the Associated Press, which keeps its own independent count, to 275 by Iraq's ministries, to the 240 of icasualties.org, who states that the actual numbers are higher than their figures. Despite the differences, all these groups follow the same trends, and all witnessed drops from June. All but Iraq Body Count recorded a July amount below or at the average number of deaths over the first six months of 2009 set by each organization. The Associated Press for example counted 447 deaths in June and an average of 317.5 deaths from January to June of 2009.

Iraqi Deaths


Iraq Body Count

icasualties.

Org

Brookings Iraq Index

Iraqi Ministries

Associated Press

July 08

584

419

500

851

N/A

Aug. 08

592

311

450

N/A

475

Sep. 08

535

366

400

440

503

Oct. 08

528

288

350

317

N/A

Nov. 08

473

317

270

340

N/A

Dec. 08

522

320

350

316

N/A

Jan. 09

276

187

270

191

242

Feb. 09

343

202

230

258

288

March 09

416

278

260

252

335

April 09

484

347

340

355

371

May 09

332

188

N/A

165

225

June 09

516

367

N/A

437

447

July 09

410

240

N/A

275

308

Last 6 months of 2008 Average

539.0

336.8

386.6

452.8 5 of 6 months

N/A

First 6 months of 2009 Average

393.3

261.0

275.0 1st 4 months

276.5

317.5

The drop in deaths in July happened despite a large increase in mass casualty bombings, those that cause ten or more dead and/or wounded. June, which had the highest body count in 2009 so far, had fourteen mass casualty bombings, resulting in 174 dead and 517 wounded. July more than doubled that amount with 35 bombings that had almost the same amount of deaths, 180, but a large increase in wounded, 655. McClatchy Newspapers recorded a similar surge in wounded as well, despite the drop in deaths. They found nearly 700 people wounded in July by bombs compared to approximately 400 in June.

Number of Bombings and Casualty Statistics – April to July 2009

April 2009

Bombings: 21

Deaths: 198 + 32 Iranians

Wounded: 497 + 105 Iranians + 10 Americans

May 2009

Bombings: 9

Deaths: 111

Wounded: 262

June 2009

Bombings: 14

Deaths: 174

Wounded: 517

July 2009

Bombings: 35

Deaths: 180

Wounded: 655

Overall, the latest quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) notes that there has only been a slight increase in the number of security incidents in Iraq from the first quarter of 2009 to the second. From January 1 to March 20 there were 969 attacks for an average of 323.0 per month. That compared to 1,587 attacks from April 1 to July 21 for an average of 396.7. As Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies has pointed out however, there is no direct correlation between the number of attacks and casualties. In October 2008 for example there were 160 security incidents in Baghdad, compared to 159 in November. That month saw 208 deaths and 621 wounded compared to 183 deaths and 419 wounded in October despite having one more attack. One or two mass casualty bombings only slightly changes the number of incidents, yet can have a dramatic affect upon the amount of dead and wounded.

There are four important observations to be made from the latest statistics. First, the number of mass casualty bombings a month may not be as good an indicator of the overall deaths in Iraq as previously argued here. Second, the ebb and flow of casualties since the beginning of 2009 shows that the insurgents and militias are only able to kill large numbers of casualties for one month, and then they need to regroup for the next, until they can do it again the following month. That trend is only seen in the death numbers, not the amount of attacks, which is little changed so far. Third, that doesn't mean they still aren't capable of inflicting large casualty numbers as the figures on the wounded show. Finally, July was the first month after the U.S. withdrawal from the cities. With the insurgents and militias reduce to terrorist bombings, assassinations, drive-by shootings, and the odd mortar or rocket attack, it appears that the Iraqi security forces are finally able to take the lead as the U.S. has been calling for years now. That doesn't mean that they are not still dependent upon the United States for supply, maintenance, parts, intelligence, and training or that if some large conflagration were to occur they would not ask for American aid, but it does highlight the fact that they can maintain the day to day security needs of the country at this point in time. It also shows that even with this new capability Iraq continues to be a very violent place, which is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

SOURCES

Abdul-Kadir, Saad, "18 hurt by Baghdad bomb targeting Shiite pilgrims," Associated Press, 7/16/09

Abdul-Zahara, Qassim, "Bomb kills 7 in Baqouba, Iraq police say," 7/30/09

Abdul-Zahara, Qassim and Reichmann, Deb, "Iraqis restrict US operations in Baghdad," Associated Press, 7/20/09

Agence France Presse, "Eight killed in Iraq bomb attacks," 7/21/09

Associated Press, "Four killed in Iraq bombing," 7/12/09

- "Iraq: Key figures since the war began," 8/1/09

Aswat al-Iraq, "2 bombings in Mosul leave 31 casualties," 7/8/09

- "2nd UPDATE/Casualties of Baghdad's 5 mosques bombings up to 90," 7/31/09

- "Car bomb explodes near IPP HQ, 12 wounded," 7/25/09

- "IED kills, wounds 13 in Baghdad," 7/4/09

- "Kirkuk car bomb explosion casualties reach 11," 7/3/09

- "Kirkuk car bomb leaves 2 killed, 15 wounded," 7/31/09

- "Mosul blast casualties up to 5 deaths, 52 wounded," 7/11/09

- "Mosul car bomb wounded up to 14," 7/5/09

- "Motorbike bomb kills, wounds 13 in Baghdad," 7/28/09

- "Qaem blast kills 4, wounds 8," 7/30/09

- "URGENT/9 killed, 32 wounded in 2 Baghdad blasts," 7/9/09

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

Dagher, Sam, "Suicide Bomber Kills 6 in Iraqi City," New York Times, 7/15/09

Al Dulaimy, Mohammed, "Iraqis fear latest bombings signal return of al Qaeda in Iraq," McClatchy Newspapers, 7/31/09

Faraj, Salam, "Iraq death toll drops after US handover," Agence France Presse, 8/1/09

Hammoudi, Laith, "Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Sunday 26 July 2009," McClatchy Newspapers, 7/26/09

Icasualties.org

Iraq Body Count

Issa, Sahar, "Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Wednesday 8 July, 2009," 7/8/09

Karim, Ammar, "Fourteen killed in Iraq bomb attacks," 7/21/09

Myers, Steven Lee and Robertson, Campbell, "Insurgency Remains Tenacious In North Iraq," New York Times, 7/9/09

O'Hanlon, Michael Campbell, Jason, "Iraq Index," 7/9/09

Quinn, Patrick, "Bombings kill at least 3 in Baghdad area," Associated Press, 7/2/09

Reuters, "Emergency declared in Iraq's Ramadi," 7/21/09

- "FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, July 2," 7/2/09

- "FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, July 8," 7/8/09

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, "Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress," 7/30/09

Yacoub, Sameer, "Bombs kill 11 in Iraq," Associated Press, 7/15/09

Xinhua, "Civilian killed by car bomb in Baghdad," 7/21/09

- "Roadside bomb kills 5 in Baghdad," 7/16/09

2 comments:

amagi said...

To what degree does the Iraqi army rely on the U.S. military for intelligence? I thought it was the other way around... supplies, yes, but I thought intel has always essentially been Iraqi driven.

Joel Wing said...

1) The U.S. has a whole range of informers that they rely upon for local intelligence that they are very reluctant to turn over to Baghdad because they're afraid the different political factions will take revenge on some of them.

2) The U.S. has also has drones, etc. to collect intel.