Monday, December 3, 2012

Iraq’s Insurgency Tries To End November 2012 With A Bang


November 2012, looked like it was going to end well in terms of security. The Shiite religious ceremony of Ashura went off relatively peacefully with only one small bombing. Then at the end of the month there were two days of bombings and shootings across twelve cities in northern, central, and southern Iraq that broke the calm. That last flurry of violence seemed to boost the government’s numbers for the month above the previous one. The far more accurate and reliable Iraq Body Count however, recorded a five-month decline in casualties.

There were three different death counts for November, which showed different trends. The Iraqi ministries reported 166 killed for the month, up from 144 in October. Iraq Body Count’s early figure was 244 casualties, down from October’s 253. The Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service has also started its own count, and recorded 160 fatalities in November, up from the previous month’s 136. The cause for the jump in the government and AFP numbers was the string of attacks that occurred at the end of the month. On November 27, Iraq Body Count had four bombings and three shootings across Baghdad, Ramadi in Anbar province, Kirkuk and Hawija in Tamim, Mosul in Ninewa, Nasiriyah in Dhi Qar, and Buhriz in Diyala that cost 38 lives. Two days later, 49 were killed in Hilla in Babil, Karbala, Mosul, Taji in Salahaddin, and Abu Ghraib and Besmaya in Baghdad. Overall, all three organizations have been going in different directions. The government’s numbers have consistently gone up and down with 325 in July, 164 in August, 365 in September, 144 in October, and then 166 in November. AFP was showing a downward trend with 278 in August, 253 in September, 136 in October, before hitting November’s 160. Iraq Body Count on the other hand had a five-month decline from 523 in June to 461 in July to 403 in August, 363 in September, 253 in October, and 244 in November. Since AFP’s numbers are so close to the government’s, and low compared to Iraq Body Count’s it appears that they are both missing many of the smaller incidents that regularly occur throughout Iraq that might only kill 1-2 people each. 

Deaths In Iraq 2011-2012
Month
Iraq Body Count
Iraqi Ministries
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths
Jan. 2011
388
259
323
10.4
Feb.
251
167
209
7.4
Mar.
307
247
277
8.9
Apr.
287
211
249
8.3
May
378
177
277
8.9
Jun.
386
271
328
10.9
Jul.
305
259
282
9.0
Aug.
399
239
319
10.2
Sep.
396
185
290
9.6
Oct.
357
258
307
9.9
Nov.
273
187
230
7.6
Dec.
388
155
271
8.7
2011 Mo. Avg.
342
217
279
9.1
Jan. 2012
522
151
336
10.8
Feb.
355
150
252
8.7
Mar.
375
112
243
7.8
Apr.
370
126
248
8.2
May
293
132
212
6.8
Jun.
523
131
327
10.9
Jul.
461
325
393
12.6
Aug.
403
164
283
9.1
Sep.
363
365
364
12.1
Oct.
253
144
198
6.4
Nov.
244
166
205
6.8
2012 Mo. Avg.
378
178
278
9.1

Since Iraq Body Count captures more of the violence in the country than the other two, its numbers showed that the insurgent’s summer offensive is over. For the last several years militants have picked up their operations during the summer. Al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi dubbed this year’s campaign Breaking Walls in July. The results were immediately seen. The average number of daily deaths based upon Iraq Body Count and the government’s ministries went from 6.8 in May to 10.9 in June, 12.6 in July, 9.1 in August, and 12.1 in September before dropping to 6.4 in October and 6.8 in November. Next month will likely have low figures as well until January when the Shiite’s celebrate Arbayeen. Al Qaeda in Iraq has hit that pilgrimage the last several years. Then things will repeat again with a dip until the summer arrives. This has become the annual pattern in Iraq, and is unlikely to change without a dramatic re-alignment in the country’s politics that would offer Sunni insurgents a means to participate openly in society.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq Unrest AFP Count”
- “Iraq violence rose in November,” 12/1/12

Iraq Body Count

Al Jazeera, “Iraqi security officers killed in clashes,” 7/26/12

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