Today’s devastating bombing on the Justice and Municipalities Ministries, and the Baghdad provincial council building in the capital follows the current trend in Iraqi violence. Since April 2009, the number of deaths has fluctuated up and down each month. According to Iraq’s ministries for example, there were 355 deaths in April, 165 in May, 438 in June, 275 in July, 456 in August, and 203 in September. The other major sources on Iraqi casualties (Iraq Body Count, icasualties, the Brookings Institute, and the Associated Press) all record the same pattern. One could predict then, that October 2009 would see an increase in casualties. Already there have been 214 deaths due to mass casualty bombings this month, 135 from today’s bombing alone. Monthly deaths are still at their lowest levels since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
The ebb and flow of violence shows the relative weakness of militants. They are only able to launch large attacks every other month. This month does show their increasing ability to carry out headline grabbing bombings however, in their attempt to destabilize the government, just as they did in August when they bombed the Finance and Foreign Ministries. That incident along with today’s undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s claim that he has brought security to Iraq, which might hurt his re-election campaign in the 2010 vote.
It’s also important to remember not to track overall security in Iraq based upon such bombings. There is no direct correlation between such attacks and overall security incidents in Iraq or casualties. In June 2009 for instance, there were 14 mass casualty bombings resulting in 174 deaths. For July there were 35 such attacks and 180 casualties, yet June had more deaths overall than July. According to the latest statistics released by the U.S. military, the number of overall security incidents in Iraq has also stayed pretty much steady since March 2009 at just about 200 per week. Overall, casualties in Iraq are still at unacceptable levels, but they are nowhere near as bad as they were during the sectarian war.
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Associated Press, “Police: Suicide bomber kills 11 at mosque,” 10/16/09
- “Suicide bomb kills 6 at funeral,” 10/6/09
Aswat al-Iraq, “10 civilians wounded in Babel blast,” 10/4/09
- “Blast kills 1, wounds 9 north of Hilla,” 10/18/09
- “Sticky bomb kills 2 women, injures 12 persons in Babel,” 10/21/09
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McClatchy Newspapers, “Car bombs explode in Baghdad, killing at least 135 people,” 10/25/09
Reuters, “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Oct 11,” 10/11/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Oct 18,” 10/18/09
Shadid, Anthony, “Scores killed, at least 500 wounded in bomb attacks in Baghdad,” 10/25/09
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Xinhua, “2 killed, 13 wounded in Baghdad bomb attack,” 10/18/09
- “12 people wounded in bomb explosion in south Baghdad,” 10/21/09
- “Bomb explosion kills 3 south of Baghdad,” 10/8/09
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