Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Bad Has Security Gotten In Iraq? Comparing 1st Qtr 2013 With 1st Qtr 2014

 
2014 was the year that Iraq’s insurgency was reborn. There is open fighting in Anbar, and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) has lost control of territory in other parts of the country as well. The result is that casualty figures are climbing ever higher. A comparison of attacks in the first quarter of 2013 with the first quarter of this year illustrates just how bad the situation has gotten. The number of security incidents has gone up 60%, while the dead and wounded have nearly doubled. The first three months of last year were important as well, because it was when militants first started ramping up their activities. The contrast between the two highlights how much the armed factions have grown over the last twelve months.

The beginning of 2013 was when Iraq’s insurgency first took off. In January and February there were 560 and 517 attacks respectively. In March that jumped to 707. The first two months had the same level of militant activity with an average of 18.0 and 18.4 incidents per day, but then went up to 22.8 in the last month. Casualties climbed as a result. There were 728 deaths in January, 23.4 per day, 685 in February, 24.4, before reaching 937 in March, 30.2 per day. Wounded went the same way going from 1,453 in January to 1,777 in March, going from an average of 46.8 to 57.3 per day. The major cause for the increase was more bombings. There were 308 in January, 285 in February, and 423 in March, jumping from an average of 9.9 per day to 13.6. Car bombs, which are the deadliest form of attack nearly doubled from 38 in January to 65 in March. Shootings, 226 to 301 and suicide bombs 9 to 19 went up as well. March was when the insurgency first started ramping up its operations after re-organizing. By then the Syrian civil war had been going on for nearly two years allowing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) to expand and gain more recruits, material, and fund raising. Ansar al-Sunna became involved in the fighting next door as well. Protests had also started in Anbar, Salahaddin, Ninewa, and Kirkuk against the government starting in December 2012. Towards the end of January 2013 protesters threw rocks at the security forces in Fallujah provoking gunfire, which killed 9 and wounded 60. In the aftermath gunmen were seen marching through the city, some leaders in Anbar threatened to attack the army in retaliation, and a sniper killed a soldier. The insurgency jumped on the opportunity to exploit the anger that followed with both ISIS and the Baathist Naqshibandi issuing internet statements saying they stood with the protesters, with the latter setting up its own protest sites in Tikrit, Hawija, and Ninewa. The security forces would continue to provoke the demonstrations by arresting leaders, blocking people from attending, and shooting at demonstrators again in Mosul in March. These all opened up more opportunities for armed groups, which explains why the number of attacks went up in March.

Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Mar 2013
Month
Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Shootings
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
560
728
1,453
226
308
38
9
Feb
517
685
1,218
188
285
45
9
Mar
707
937
1,777
301
423
65
19
Total
1,783
2,344
4,426
715
1,015
147
37

Avg. Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Mar 2013
Month
Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Shootings
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
18.0
23.4
46.8
7.2
9.9
1.2
0.2
Feb
18.4
24.4
43.5
6.7
10.1
1.6
0.3
Mar
22.8
30.2
57.3
9.7
13.6
2.0
0.6
Total
19.8
26.0
49.1
7.9
11.2
1.6
0.4


This all came to fruition in 2014 when open fighting with government forces started. In the first quarter of 2013 there were an average of 19.8 attacks per day. That jumped to 32.8 per day by the first three months of 2014. Likewise shootings went from 7.9 to 14.8, bombs 11.2 to 17.3, car bombs from 1.6 to 2.4, and suicide bombers from 0.4 to 1.4 per day over that time period. The results were casualties nearly doubled from 26.0 killed and 49.1 wounded per day in the start of 2013 to 47.3 deaths and 89.5 injured during the beginning of 2014. These were all signs that Iraq went from a serious terrorist problem to a full-blown insurgency that is growing and taking territory from the government.

Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Mar 2014
Month
Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Shootings
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
1,012
1,379
2,634
470
514
78
45
Feb
945
1,274
2,526
444
466
73
43
Mar
996
1,606
2,901
419
579
73
43
Total
2,953
4,259
8,061
1,333
1,559
224
131

Security Incidents In Iraq Jan-Mar 2014
Month
Attacks
Killed
Wounded
Shootings
Bombs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombs
Jan
32.6
44.4
84.9
15.1
16.5
2.5
1.4
Feb
33.7
45.5
90.2
15.8
16.6
2.6
1.5
Mar
32.1
51.8
93.5
13.5
18.6
2.3
1.3
Total
32.8
47.3
89.5
14.8
17.3
2.4
1.4


Tracking attacks also reveals where armed groups are most active and expanding in Iraq right now. Anbar is the most obvious hot spot since cities like Fallujah, parts of Ramadi, and the surrounding towns are currently under militant control. In 2013, insurgents were building off the protests there. For the first three months of that year there were an average of 44.3 attacks per month, 50.3 killed, and 46.6 wounded. During that same period in 2014 there were 208.6 attacks per month, 237.0 deaths, and 517.0 injured showing a huge increase in violence. A large proportion of the dead and wounded currently are the result of government shelling and air strikes however. In March 2014 for instance, there were 343 killed and 627 wounded, but early a third of those deaths, 122, and more than half of the injured, 405, were due to government actions. ISIS has set up bases in northern Babil and fought off government forces there recently leading to a doubling of violence. In the first quarter of 2013 there were only sporadic attacks, but there was already an uptick in activity with car and suicide bombings. In January for example there were 24 attacks, highlighted by a car bomb on Shiite pilgrims in Musayib on January 3 that killed 27 and wounded 60. Then another such attack upon a checkpoint south of Hillah leaving 10 victims and 20 injured and a car bomb on pilgrims in Qasim with 7 dead and 28 wounded on January 17. January 22 a car bomb on a checkpoint took the lives of 5 and wounded 15, and a suicide bomber in Mahmudiya killed 7 and injured 26. By March there were 5 car bombings and one suicide bombing with a total of 96 deaths and 42 wounded. In February 2014 the security forces tried to clear insurgents out of the Jurf al-Sakhr area, but failed. The latter launched a number of retaliatory strikes in the following weeks. That left 110 killed and 260 injured in February and 117 killed and 269 wounded by March. A starker contrast is made by the averages going from 44.3 attacks per month, 50.3 dead, and 46.6 wounded in the first quarter of 2013 to 36.0 incidents, 79.3 fatalities, and 193.3 wounded during the start of 2014. Baghdad has been the main target of ISIS, which has struck both Shiite and Sunni areas of the province to try to re-ignite the sectarian civil war. In the first quarter of 2013 there were an average of 155 attacks per month. That rose to 227 per month by the first quarter of 2014. Likewise the number of fatalities went from 235 in the beginning of 2013 to 434 in the start of 2014, and the wounded went from 429 to 995 showing a nearly doubling of casualties there. Violence in Diyala has actually decreased a small bit between the two time periods. There were 318 incidents from January to March 2013 leading to 379 dead and 740 wounded. During those same months a year later the number of attacks went down to 206 with 341 deaths and 447 injured. Kirkuk province has seen a slight drop in attacks as well. There were 42 incidents in January 2013, 44 in February, and 61 in March versus 50 in January 2014, 71 in February and 51 in March. Militants have slightly picked up their activities in Ninewa going from 123 attacks per month in the 1st quarter of 2013 to 183 in the beginning of 2014. Salahaddin on the other hand, has seen a large increase with 87 attacks per month initially in 2013 to 100 in the beginning of 2014. That led casualties to jump from 332 in the 1st quarter of 2013 to 767 in the 1st quarter of 2014. ISIS has also maintained its capabilities to carry out bombings in the south. In January 2013 there was 1 car bomb in Karbala, one in Wasit and Karbala each in February, and then two in Qadisiyah and three in Basra in March. In contrast there were no car bombs in southern Iraq in January 2014, but one in Wasit in February, and three in Wasit, one in Karbala in March. These statistics show that the militants have re-established themselves in the central part of Iraq where they were based before the Surge in 2007. Anbar, northern Babil, Salahaddin, eastern Diyala, Mosul in Ninewa, and parts of Kirkuk are all insurgent strongholds. They are expanding from there into new areas taking advantage of the Iraqi army and police being overcommitted to Anbar.

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Jan-Mar 2013
Province
Jan
Feb
Mar
Anbar
53 Attacks
39 Killed
67 Wounded
32 Attacks
16 Killed
31 Wounded
48 Attacks
96 Killed
42 Wounded
Babil
24 Attacks
71 Killed
178 Wounded
13 Attacks
25 Killed
64 Wounded
18 Attacks
45 Killed
60 Wounded
Baghdad
128 Attacks
139 Killed
189 Wounded
155 Attacks
276 Killed
537 Wounded
184 Attacks
291 Killed
561 Wounded
Basra
2 Attacks
2 Killed
-
5 Attacks
12 Killed
45 Wounded
Dhi Qar
-
1 Attack
2 Wounded
1 Attack
Diyala
112 Attacks
162 Killed
248 Wounded
101 Attacks
99 Killed
254 Wounded
105 Attacks
118 Killed
238 Wounded
Karbala
8 Attacks
13 Killed
67 Wounded
1 Attack
7 Killed
24 Wounded
3 Attacks
3 Killed
11 Wounded
Kirkuk
42 Attacks
46 Killed
224 Wounded
44 Attacks
69 Killed
111 Wounded
61 Attacks
34 Killed
371 Wounded
Maysan
1 Attack
1 Attack
1 Wounded
-
Muthanna
-
-
-
Najaf
-
-
-
Ninewa
101 Attacks
108 Killed
106 Wounded
111 Attacks
145 Killed
108 Wounded
159 Attacks
151 Killed
185 Wounded
Qadisiyah
-
-
1 Attack
15 Killed
71 Wounded
Salahaddin
86 Attacks
147 Killed
374 Wounded
55 Attacks
45 Killed
68 Wounded
120 Attacks
170 Killed
192 Wounded
Wasit
2 Attacks
1 Killed
3 Attacks
3 Killed
18 Wounded
2 Attacks
2 Killed
1 Wounded

Security Incidents In Iraq By Province Jan-Mar 2014
Province
Jan
Feb
Mar
Anbar
240 Attacks
184 Killed
487 Wounded
173 Attacks
184 Killed
437 Wounded
213 Attacks
343 Killed
627 Wounded
Babil
27 Attacks
11 Killed
51 Wounded
41 Attacks
110 Killed
260 Wounded
40 Attacks
117 Killed
269 Wounded
Baghdad
252 Attacks
557 Killed
1,187 Wounded
204 Attacks
363 Killed
851 Wounded
233 Attacks
384 Killed
947 Wounded
Basra
4 Attacks
3 Killed
1 Wounded
7 Attacks
6 Killed
7 Attacks
7 Killed
Dhi Qar
2 Attacks
1 Killed
1 Wounded
1 Attack
1 Killed
4 Wounded
1 Attack
1 Killed
Diyala
70 Attacks
156 Killed
150 Wounded
65 Attacks
72 Killed
138 Wounded
71 Attacks
113 Killed
159 Wounded
Karbala
-
2 Attacks
5 Killed
5 Wounded
1 Attack
4 Killed
15 Wounded
Kirkuk
50 Attacks
37 Killed
151 Wounded
71 Attacks
40 Killed
85 Wounded
51 Attacks
29 Killed
102 Wounded
Maysan
3 Attacks
2 Killed
2 Attacks
2 Killed
1 Attack
1 Killed
Muthanna
1 Attack
1 Killed
-
-
Najaf
-
-
-
Ninewa
185 Attacks
183 Killed
197 Wounded
184 Attacks
206 Killed
277 Wounded
180 Attacks
192 Killed
260 Wounded
Qadisiyah
1 Attack
1 Killed
-
-
Salahaddin
172 Attacks
239 Killed
401 Wounded
193 Attacks
283 Killed
466 Wounded
192 Attacks
406 Killed
508 Wounded
Wasit
6 Attacks
4 Killed
8 Wounded
2 Attacks
2 Killed
3 Wounded
5 Attacks
9 Killed
14 Wounded

Security Incidents In Iraq Monthly Avg. Comparison 2013 vs. 2014
Province
2013 1st Qtr
Monthly Avg.
2014 1st Qtr
Monthly Avg.
Anbar
44.3 Attacks
50.3 Killed
46.6 Wounded
208.6 Attacks
237.0 Killed
517.0 Wounded
Babil
18.3 Attacks
47.0 Killed
100.6 Wounded
36.0 Attacks
79.3 Killed
193.3 Wounded
Baghdad
155.6 Attacks
235.3 Killed
429.0 Wounded
229.6 Attacks
434.6 Killed
995.0 Wounded
Basra
2.3 Attacks
4.6 Killed
15.0 Wounded
6.0 Attacks
5.3 Killed
0.3 Wounded
Dhi Qar
0.6 Attacks
0.6 Wounded
1.3 Attacks
1.0 Killed
1.6 Wounded
Diyala
106.0 Attacks
126.3 Killed
246.6 Wounded
68.6 Attacks
113.6 Killed
149.0 Wounded
Karbala
4.0 Attacks
7.6 Killed
34.0 Wounded
1.0 Attacks
3.0 Killed
6.6 Wounded
Kirkuk
49.0 Attacks
49.6 Killed
235.3 Wounded
57.3 Attacks
35.3 Killed
112.6 Wounded
Maysan
0.6 Attacks
0.3 Wounded
2.0 Attacks
1.6 Killed
Muthanna
-
0.3 Attacks
0.3 Killed
Najaf
-
-
Ninewa
123.6 Attacks
134.6 Killed
133.0 Wounded
183.0 Attacks
193.6 Killed
244.6 Wounded
Qadisiyah
0.3 Attacks
5.0 Killed
23.6 Wounded
0.3 Attacks
0.3 Killed
Salahaddin
87.0 Attacks
120.6 Killed
211.3 Wounded
185.6 Attacks
309.3 Killed
458.3 Wounded
Wasit
2.3 Attacks
2.0 Killed
6.3 Wounded
4.3 Attacks
5.0 Killed
8.3 Wounded

Baghdad Belt map found on Zarqawhi's body in 2006 (Long War Journal)

The burst in fighting in 2014 is a direct result of the insurgency re-establishing itself in the beginning of 2013. It was in the latter period that militants begin re-establishing their networks and recruiting and first began increasing their operations in the center of the country. Their ultimate goal is Baghdad, which they are currently aiming for. ISIS for one is repeating the same strategy it followed from 2004-2007 marching from Anbar to the Baghdad Belts, the provinces and towns surrounding the capital city. This plan was drawn up by then Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and revealed when he was killed in 2006 and a treasure trove of documents was captured. The Naqshibandi has also talked about “liberating” the capital. Their collective action shows that they are not far away from achieving that goal of spreading the fighting to Baghdad. The Iraqi Security Forces are already strained dealing with Anbar. Threatening the capital will likely bring out the Shiite militias, which are currently fighting in Syria and are reported to be involved in Anbar already. The question is how bad will things get in the near future?

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Iraq officials say bombings kill 12 people," 3/18/14

AIN, "Death toll of Basra bombings hit 37 deaths, injuries," 3/17/13

Aswat al-Iraq, “Fallujah toll reaches to 9 killings and 60 wounded,” 1/25/13

Ghazi, Yasir and Arango, Tim, “Iraq Parliament Votes to Keep Maliki From Seeking New Term,” New York Times, 1/26/13

Iraq Times, "martyrs and wounded by a car bomb north of Kut," 3/18/14

Al-Mada, "Killing and injuring at least 15 people, bombing north of Kut," 2/28/13
- "Killing and injuring at least 18 people in a suicide bombing targeting a military checkpoint south of Baghdad," 1/22/13
- "Killing and wounding 153 people in bombings coincide with pilgrimages in February," 2/8/13
- "Person injured by a roadside bomb near a primary school north of Kut," 3/6/14

Maher, Ahmed, “Iraq Sunnis threaten army attacks after protest deaths,” BBC, 1/25/13

Al Masalah, "Blast toll rises in bombing of market for livestock in Diwaniya to 15 dead and 71 injured," 3/1/13
-"Killed three people and wounded 26 by a car bomb and the fall of three mortar shells north of Karbala," 1/5/13
- "Killing 7 and injuring 10 roadside bombs north of Wasit," 3/18/14
- "Killing six people, including four soldiers and wounding 22 others in a car bombing north of Baghdad," 1/22/13
- "Ten dead and 21 injured toll car bombs in Basra," 3/17/13

NINA, "/3/ Civilians Injured by a Car Bomb North of Wasit," 2/3/14
- “Army force coming from Baghdad arrested a tribal Sheikh and his two sons east of Tikrit,” 1/31/13
- “Military force prevents worshipers from access to Ahrar Square to demonstrate central Mosul,” 2/8/13
- "Northern Babil blast casualties up to 87 killed, wounded," 1/3/13

Schreck, Adam, “Iraqi insurgents try to harness opposition rage,” Associated Press, 1/26/13
- “Violence erupts at Iraq rally; 5 protesters killed,” Associated Press, 1/25/13
- "Wave Of Attacks In Iraq Leaves 22 Dead," Associated Press, 1/22/13

Smyth, Phillip, “Selling Sectarianism: Shia Islamist Groups & Maliki’s Anbar Offensive,” Hizballah Cavalcade, 2/3/14

Yacoub, Sameer, "Bombs in Iraq kill 26, mostly Shiite pilgrims," Associated Press, 1/17/13
- “Iraqi minister resigns after protesters shot,” Associated Press, 3/8/13

1 comment:

Joel Wing said...

This article is based upon more than 6 months of research and reading over 20,000 articles on violence in Iraq.

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