Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Insurgents’ Summer Offensive Begins In June 2012

 
Every summer since 2003, Iraq’s insurgents have launched an offensive. The hotter months bring out the militants, and they launch a number of prominent, mass casualty attacks across the country, along with their routine operations. These are aimed at undermining the government, fomenting sectarian tensions, as well as garnering publicity, which the insurgents use in their fund raising. That means for the next several months there will be increased press reports about violence, and the monthly death counts will go up, but this is just a temporary spike.

June 2012 was the beginning of the insurgents’ summer campaign, and casualties went up as a result. There were a plethora of monthly counts by various organizations. First, the press agencies recorded deaths for the first time in a while. The Associated Press had 234 killed, Reuters had three more at 237, and Agence France Presse had 282. The United Nations’ Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit had a preliminary count of 401 deaths that went up to June 27, while Iraq Body Count had 472 as their early number. In comparison, Iraq’s Health, Interior, and Defense Ministries only claimed 131 killed. That was one less than May, when the U.N. and Iraq Body Count both had large increases with the latter seeing more than a doubling of casualties from the previous month. For the last year and a half Baghdad’s figures have not only been the lowest out of the three, but so low as to question their validity. They are likely being kept down purposely by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for political reasons since he is the acting Defense and Interior Ministers.
Scene of a bombing in Baghdad's Washash neighborhood, June 29, 2012 (AP)
For the last nine years, Iraq’s militants have increased the scope of their operations every summer. That means an uptick in attacks and deaths. All together, Iraq Body Count, the United Nations, and government figures averaged out to 334 killed, and an average of 11.1 deaths per day in June. That was up from 228 in May, and 7.3 per day. The U.N. also counted 325 attacks for an average of 10.8 per day in June. That was actually down from 352, and an average of 11.3 in May. The number of security incidents has never directly related to the death counts however. One or two mass casualty attacks for instance, can skew the entire month’s figures. 2012’s numbers closely follow last year’s. Every January, insurgents target Shiite pilgrims heading towards Baghdad’s Khadamiya. That resulted in an average of 9.7 deaths in January 2011, and 11.9 in January 2012. The numbers then dipped to 8.1, 8.8, 8.6, and 9.3 from February to May 2011. Likewise, this year, the averages went to 8.0 in February, 7.8 in March, 8.3 in April, and 7.3 in May. From June to October 2011, the numbers killed averaged out to 12.0, 10.1, 11.7, 10.9, and 11.0, before going down to 8.0 in November, and 9.0 in December. This year will follow the same general pattern. When winter comes, this period of increased violence will end until January when things will repeat all over again. 
 


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
220
132
332
228
7.3
Jun.
472
131
401
334
11.1

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
352
11.3
Jun.
325
10.8

 
Most reporting on Iraq’s security situation lacks context and analysis. With the number of deaths going up that means that there will be more and more stories about chaos spreading in the country, security deteriorating, and perhaps even talk of a civil war. This ignores the yearly pattern that has been established since the fall of Saddam Hussein. It also overlooks the fact that despite the annual summer offensives, the insurgents are incapable of overthrowing the government. The majority of militants gave up and switched sides during the Surge. The number of attacks and deaths has also dramatically declined since 2009 when a number of militants and Sunnis decided to join the political process. Today, the security situation is shaped by two major factors. First, Al Qaeda in Iraq has been able to adapt to its new situation, and the insurgency overall has regained some of its fighters after the U.S. military withdrawal, which led to the emptying of their jails. Second, Iraq’s security forces are no longer carrying out counterinsurgency operations, because they don't have the support and intelligence they received from the Americans. Together that means that the insurgency is still a deadly force as the monthly death counts account to. At the same time, they are a shell of their former selves despite the daily attacks.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq attacks kill at least 282 in June: AFP,” 7/1/12

Jakes, Lara and Johnson, Kay, “Questions of Iraq as a failed state lurk as violence surges,” Associated Press, 6/30/12

Knights, Michael, “Iraq – The Past, The Future, And Why it Matters To You,” London Business School Energy Club, 4/24/12

Reuters, “Iraq June monthly toll one of highest since U.S. exit,” 7/1/12

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where did you get your data from, or did you compile it yourself from seperate sources?

Joel Wing said...

The charts and text say where the numbers came from. The attack stats for example come from the UN.

Anonymous said...

Sure, sorry, I wasn't very clear - more specifically, which particular websites did you pull this data from? Links would be much appreciated!

Joel Wing said...

In the 2nd paragraph there are links to all the articles and websites.

Anonymous said...

OK, thanks Joel - I can't seem to find a link for the figures from the Iraqi Ministries. I'd be grateful if you've got one you can share.

Joel Wing said...

There are no direct links to the ministries. At the end of each month they provide an accounting of the dead and wounded and those get published by the news agencies.