Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Attacks Up, But Casualties Down In Iraq In May 2012


Iraq saw contradictory trends in May 2012. First, the summer months are approaching and militants are picking up their operations as a result. That led to a rise in attacks. At the same time, the average number of deaths for the month saw a decline. As the temperatures continue to climb in Iraq however, both figures are likely to go up as they have every year since 2003.

Two out of the three groups that track Iraqi casualties saw decreases in May 2012. Iraq Body Count has seen a three month decline going from 320 in March to 309 in April, and 207 in May. The United Nation’s Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit’s numbers have gone up and down from 294 in March to 320 in April, and then going down to 285 in May. Both organizations later revise their numbers, and they have always gone up. Iraq’s Health, Interior, and Defense Ministries continued to have far lower figures. They have seen a steady increase going from 112 in March to 126 in April to 132 in May. Unlike the other two, the Iraqi government has never published any corrections to its numbers. As reported before, the fact that the official numbers are so low, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the acting Defense and Interior Minister likely means that the figures are being kept down for political reasons. The premier likes to claim that he has secured the country, and one way to show that is to have very small death counts each month.
Bombing in the Shula area of Baghdad on May 31, which was the deadliest day of the month (Reuters)

Deaths In Iraq 2011-2012
Month
Iraq Body Count
Iraqi Ministries
United Nations
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths
Jan. 2011
387
259
265
303
9.7
Feb.
250
167
267
228
8.1
Mar.
307
247
268
274
8.8
Apr.
285
211
279
258
8.6
May
378
177
319
291
9.3
Jun.
385
271
424
360
12.0
Jul.
305
259
381
315
10.1
Aug.
398
239
455
364
11.7
Sep.
394
185
405
328
10.9
Oct.
355
258
416
343
11.0
Nov.
272
187
264
241
8.0
Dec.
371
155
313
279
9.0
TOTALS
4,125
1,591
4,056
-
-
2011 Mo. Avg.
343
217
338
298
9.7
Jan. 2012
464
151
500
371
11.9
Feb.
293
150
254
232
8.0
Mar.
320
112
294
242
7.8
Apr.
309
126
320
251
8.3
May
207
132
285
208
6.7

Attacks In Iraq 2011-2012
Month
Attacks
Avg. Daily Attacks
Jan. 2011
416
13.4
Feb.
358
12.7
Mar.
565
18.2
Apr.
483
16.1
May
561
18.0
Jun.
545
18.1
Jul.
404
13.0
Aug.
376
12.1
Sep.
283
9.1
Oct.
406
13.0
Nov.
268
8.0
Dec.
293
9.4
TOTALS
4,958
-
2011 Mo. Avg.
413.1
13.4
Jan. 2012
330
10.6
Feb.
299
10.3
Mar.
239
7.7
Apr.
301
10.0
May
329
10.6

The average number of deaths also saw a drop in May after staying relatively stable for the previous three months. Last month, there were an average of 208 deaths per month. That was below January’s 371, February’s 232, March’s 242, and April’s 251, placing May as the lowest casualty count so far. The same was true for the average number of fatalities a day with just 6.7 in May, compared to 8.3 in April, 7.8 in March, 8.0 in February, and 11.9 in January. When Iraq Body Count and the United Nations update their numbers those averages will go up, but unless there is a large jump in the new figures, May is likely to stay one of the low points in deaths for the year.

Attacks have been going in the opposite direction. In May the U.N. counted 329 attacks, up from 301 in April, 239 in March, 299 in February, and only one less than the 330 in January. That led to an average of ten or more security incidents for four out of 2012’s five months. The trend in Iraq since the 2003 American invasion has been for there to be a jump in attacks in January as Sunni militants go after Shiites during their yearly pilgrimage that month, then for security to improve until the summer approaches, and insurgents launch an extended campaign while the weather is hot that eventually ends when winter arrives. That means the number of attacks will go up over the coming days if militants stay true to form.

Last month may turn out to be the calm before the storm. Deaths have stayed relatively low for four out of the first five months of the year. The heat is quickly approaching however, and so is the regular summer campaign of the insurgents. Today, Iraq has reached what U.S. commanders used to call the “irreducible minimum.” They meant violence had reached a nadir, which could not improve without major political compromises and changes within the country. The American military did withdraw in December 2011. The affects of that have not been felt yet, but it could result in a very small reduction in the level of militant operations. The coming months will show whether that will bring about any real changes in Iraq’s security situation.

SOURCES

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

Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, “Security in Iraq”

Iraq Body Count

Yacoub, Sameer, “Iraqi figures show slight growth in death toll,” Associated Press, 6/2/12

4 comments:

Seerwan said...

Ignore the above comment, I just did the calculations for the deaths per 100,000 per province for 2011.

The results are for the same reasons encouraging and depressing.

Safe Iraq is as safe as Canada. Dangerous Iraq suffered over 90% of the deaths, is extremely unsafe.

Joel Wing said...

Seerwan

If you want to do an breakdown the U.N.'s Inter Agency Information and Analysis Unit provides monthly breakdowns by province and type of weapon used. Iraq Body Count breaks down everyone of their deaths in their incidents section, but it takes them about half way through the month to publish all the numbers.

Iraq is nowhere near where it was before, but is still considered one of the most violent countries in the world, because of the large terrorist threat. The main violent provinces have remained largely the same since 2003 with Baghdad being number 1 followed by places like Ninewa, Diyala, Tamim, Anbar, Salahaddin, and Babil.

Here's a breakdown of all the attacks in 2011 that includes provincial numbers.

http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2012/01/security-slightly-improved-in-iraq-in.html

Seerwan said...

Dear Joel: http://seerwan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/safe-vs-unsafe-iraq.html

Joel Wing said...

Seerwan liked your article