Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2010 Ends With A Slight Drop In Iraqi Casualties (REVISED)

December saw the fewest Iraqi deaths of 2010. Iraq Body Count recorded 215 killed in December,  Iraq’s ministries reported 151 deaths, while icasualties had 128. For all three organizations those were the lowest numbers of the year. Iraq Body Count’s previous low for example was 248 killed in September. When all three groups’ statistics were averaged out there were 165 deaths, and 5.3 casualties per day compared to 215 in November and 7.1 killed per day. Again December’s averages were the lowest of the year, surpassing January when there was an average of 197 and 6.3 casualties per day.

2010 Iraqi Death Counts And Averages
2010 
Iraq Body Count 
Icasualties 
Iraqi Ministries 
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths 
Jan. 
260
135 
196 
197
6.3
Feb. 
297 
236 
352 
295
10.5
Mar. 
334 
183 
367 
294
9.5
Apr. 
380 
259 
328 
322
10.7
May 
377 
279 
337 
331
10.6
Jun. 
368 
176 
284 
276
9.2
Jul. 
430 
534 
535 
499
16.1
Aug. 
517 
363 
426 
435
14.0
Sep. 
252
174 
273 
233
7.7
Oct. 
311
185 
293 
263 
8.4
Nov. 
300 
174 
171 
215
7.1
Dec. 
217
128 
151 
165
5.3 

Total Iraqi Deaths 2003-2010
Brookings Institution 
Iraq Body Count 
U.S. Military 
Icasualties 
Iraqi Ministries 
Avg. Daily Deaths 
2003 
7,298 
4,661 
N/A 
N/A 
N/A 
16.3 
2004 
16,894
10,834 
8,993 
N/A 
N/A 
28.8 
2005 
20,163 
15,031 
8,993 
8,225 
N/A 
35.8 
2006 
30,514 
27,850 
31,253 
18,655 
N/A 
74.1 
2007 
23,550 
24,677 
28,041 
18,938 
N/A 
65.2 
2008 
6,360 
9,245 
8,310 
5,929 
N/A 
20.4 
2009 
3,000 
4,681 
2,891 
3,119 
3,492 
9.4 
2010 
2,405 to Nov.
4,043
N/A 
2,826 
3,713 
8.8
Totals 
110,184
(to Nov. 10) 
101,022
83,300
(2004-2009) 
57,692
(2005-2010) 
7,205
(2009-2010) 
Click on image for larger view
Click on image for larger view

Iraq Body Count and icasualties noted a slight decrease in annual deaths from 2009 to 2010, while the Iraqi government actually had an increase. Iraq Body Count went from 4,681 deaths in 2009 to 4,043 in 2010, and icasualties dropped from 3,119 to 2,826. Iraq's ministries on the other hand, had a rise. There were three different figures attributed to Baghdad. By adding up the monthly reports it gave to the press there were 3,492 killed in 2009, going up to 3,713 in 2010. The Associated Press said the government told them were 3,525 killed last year. Reuters counted 3,605 fatalities based upon official releases in 2010, up from 3,481 in 2009. The authorities attributed the increase to the number of soldiers and police killed going up from 204 in 2009 to 215 last year.


What the statistics reveal is that violence in Iraq has hit a plateau since 2009. From 2003 to 2006 the war in Iraq dramatically increased from an average of 16.3 killed per day in 2003 to 28.8 in 2004, 35.8 in 2005, before reaching a high of 74.1 in 2006 as the civil war hit full throttle. Since then fighting has steadily decreased as the sectarian conflict ended, dropping to an average of 65.2 killed in 2007, to 20.4 in 2008, and then hitting an all time low of 9.4 in 2009 and 8.8 in 2010. The averages were calculated using numbers provided by the Brookings Institution, Iraq Body Count, icasualties, the U.S. military, and the Iraqi government. The actual numbers are likely much higher because the U.S. military from 2004-2005 was only casually collecting data on Iraqi violence, resulting in very low numbers for those first two years, while icasualties only uses Western sources for its statistics, and notes that it misses many fatalities. Both tend to drag down the averages. In 2004 for example, if only Brookings and Iraq Body Count are used, and not the U.S. forces’ numbers, there would be an average of 37.9 killed per day instead of 28.8. Likewise, at the height of the fighting in Iraq in 2006, icasualties only recorded around two-thirds as many deaths as Brookings, Iraq Body Count, and the Americans.

Overall, Iraq has hit what some U.S. officers have called the “irreducible minimum.” That means most of the militias and insurgents have been disbanded, disbursed, killed, arrested, or turned, leaving only the most irreconcilable to continue on with the fight. It would require political compromises to change this current status quo. Iraq Body Count, in an end of the year report “Iraqi deaths from violence in 2010,” came to a similar conclusion, predicting that violence in Iraq would continue at the same level for the foreseeable future. While many Iraqis are moving on with their life, and the security situation has dramatically improved with the end of the civil war, several thousand Iraqis will continue to die each year until the political and economic situation improves in the country.

SOURCES

Associated Press, “Iraq: December the least deadly month of the year,” 1/1/11

Cordesman, Anthony, “Victory And Violence In Iraq: Reducing the ‘Irreducible Minimum,’” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2/25/08

Dunlop, W.G., "2010 Iraq death toll tops 2009: government," Agence France Presse, 1/1/10

icasualties

Iraq Body Count, “Iraqi deaths from violence in 2010,” 12/30/10
- “Monthly table”
- “Recent Events”

O’Hanlon, Michael Livingston, Ian, “Iraq Index,” Brookings Institution, 12/9/10

3 comments:

Don Cox said...

"It would require political compromises to change this current status quo. "

Or more hard work by the security forces. I see no reason in principle why Mosul cannot be cleaned up.

Michael C said...

The leveling off of violence for the last two years is a very positive sign. On the other hand, I still think all the numbers in the country are low. Mainly the level of murders/homicides in Iraq is unknown. Iraqi police still have trouble patrolling certain areas and therefore don't adequately investigate most crimes.

The biggest question for 2010 is what effect the complete drawdown of US forces will have on remaining insurgent elements. If Sunni and Shia groups have been biding their time for US withdrawal, then we could see a slight uptick in violence above 2009/10 levels, though probably not above 2008 numbers.

Joel Wing said...

I think security will basically stay the same for the foreseable future. On the bad side, Iraqis do less patrolling than the Americans did and do not have as many intelligence resources. They also don't have the air cover. Those have allowed some militants the opportunity to regroup since the U.S. left the cities. On the positive side, hardly anyone wants to fight anymore. It's the losing side. I expect the insurgency to eventually end, it's just a matter of time.