Thursday, February 12, 2015

The New Security Threat To Iraq’s Capital Baghdad


Baghdad remains the most violence province in Iraq. During the summer while the insurgents launched their offensive most attacks shifted to Anbar, Ninewa, and Salahaddin. Since then Baghdad has returned as the main target for the militant. By attacking the capital insurgents are hoping to undermine the government and stoke sectarian tensions just like they did in the 2000s. The threat faced by Baghdad has changed however from 2014 to the new year. Before the capital was repeatedly hit by waves of car bombs (vehicle borne improvised explosive devices). Now there are hardly any VBIEDs, but the number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has skyrocketed. Fortunately for the populace these are not able to cause as many casualties leading to the number of dead and wounded to go down in the province as attacks are going up.

Baghdad has returned as the province with the most attacks in Iraq. During the first half of 2014 insurgents were concentrating on Anbar, Ninewa and Salahaddin as they prepared and then launched their summer offensive. In January and March 2014 Anbar led the country in attacks with 241 and 213, then militants shifted their focus to Salahaddin, which had the most security incidents in February, 216, April, 219, May, 201, and June, 196. Since then Baghdad has had the most attacks six out of seven months since July. For much of that period the capital had far more incidents that the other governorates. In January 2015 for instance, Baghdad had roughly 40 more attacks than either Anbar or Salahaddin. Not only that, but attacks have been going up in the capital. They went from 152 in October 2014 to 177 in November, 201 in December, and 205 in January 2015. That was the most since July’s 220, and the fourth highest in the last 13 months.


Most Violent Provinces In Iraq 2014-2015
Month
Anbar
Baghdad
Ninewa
Salahaddin
Jan
2014
241
222
169
209
Feb
173
185
184
216
Mar
213
207
180
204
Apr
181
180
186
219
May
139
192
183
201
Jun
157
181
101
196
Jul
147
220
82
185
Aug
143
172
76
171
Sep
105
189
52
177
Oct
174
152
65
205
Nov
110
177
54
140
Dec
129
201
58
165
Jan
2015
161
205
124
164

Violence In Baghdad 2014-2015
Month
Dead
Wounded
Shootings
Mortar/
Rocket/
Grenades
IEDs
Car Bombs
Suicide Bombers
(Non-Car Bombs)
Sticky Bombs
TOTAL
BOMBS
Jan 2014
504
1,103
75
6/1/-
67
48
6
22
143
Feb
352
828
72
1/2/1
49 + 2 Motorcycle Bombs + 1 Sound bomb
39
1
23
115
Mar
340
874
55
3/-/-
86
31
1
31
149
Apr
387
870
52
10/-/2
63
23
12
23
121
May
390
811
68
12/3/-
59
27
4
21
111
Jun
357
840
64
6/-/-
78
15
2
18
113
Jul
453
817
107
15/-/-
55
17
3
23
98
Aug
419
958
60
9/1/-
65 + 3 Sound bombs
21
1
17
107
Sep
441
1,179
51
10/-/-
85 + 1 Motorcycle bomb + 1 Sound bomb
21
-
19
127
Oct
590
1,399
48
3/-/-
73
23
4
11
111
Nov
488
1,263
40
3/-/-
91
26
-
13
130
Dec
439
849
58
5/4/1
97
3
1
24
125
Jan
2105
357
980
63
10/-/1
118 + 1 Motorcycle bomb
2
4
17
142


The types of operations the insurgents are launching in Baghdad have changed during the last year. Historically there were always shootings and IEDs in Baghdad, but the preferred method of sowing chaos was car bombs. The capital would regularly be the main target of these devices. In 2012, Baghdad had the most VBIEDs 9 out of 12 months, 10 out of 12 months in 2013, and 11 out of 12 months in 2014. In 2012 the Islamic State was rebuilding its networks and averaged 8 car bombs per month in Baghdad. That quickly rose to 24.4 in 2013, and 22.4 in 2014. Starting in December 2014 however, IS’s VBIED networks began to be disrupted and the group also began using car bombs more for tactical attacks in other provinces than the regular terrorist bombings of civilians. At the end of last year, IS lost Jurf al-Sakhr in Babil and Nibai in Salahaddin, which were both VBIED bases. That led to a decided drop in these types of operations in Baghdad with 23 in October, 26 in November, and then 3 in December and 2 in January. IS could change its strategy and refocus its car bombs upon civilians and these numbers could go back up, but it would be harder pressed to find new bases near the capital to build and launch its bomb laden vehicles from. That means for now it appears Baghdad will be spared the huge numbers of car bombs that it was used to.

What the insurgency has been doing to compensate for that decline is shifting towards more and more IEDs. Since the summer the number of improvised explosive devices has gone from 55 in July, 65 in August, 85 in September, 73 in October, 91 in November, 97 in December, and 118 in January. Many of these have been aimed at shops, restaurants, cafes, and markets to try to kill as many people as possible. In January 2015 for example, 44 out of 118 IEDs, 37% were directed at businesses resulting in 89 deaths and 366 wounded. In total IEDs took the lives of 175 people, 17% of all deaths for the month, and injured another 739, 75% of all wounded.

The decrease in VBIEDs partly attests for the recent trend in casualties. From October 2014 to January 2015 the number of dead and wounded has actually gone down. There were 590 killed and 1,399 wounded in October, 488 and 1,263 in November, 439 and 849 in December, and 357 deaths and 980 injured in January. That decline was probably due to having less car bombs go off in the capital, which are capable of mass casualties.

In the last seven month Iraq’s insurgents have refocused upon the country’s capital. That has meant more and more attacks, especially since November. Due to on going security operations however, the militants don’t have the same capabilities that they used to. The loss of bases in the north and south has crippled the Islamic State’s VBIED networks that were used to hit the capital. It will be hard pressed to find new areas to build and launch car bombs from due to these sweeps. IS is also sending most of its car bombs at the security forces in places like Anbar and Salahaddin these days sparing Baghdad. That doesn’t mean there aren’t more bombs going off, but these are mostly less deadly IEDs. That’s led to a disconnect between attacks, which are going up, and casualties, which are going down. Unfortunately, as the numbers show security within the capital is as bad as ever with no real change in the last 13 months. The government desperately needs to revise its security plans within Baghdad because the small sweeps in the outskirts and all the checkpoints within the city do little to stop the constant attacks.

SOURCES

AIN, "2 bombs explode in eastern Baghdad," 1/17/15

Alsumaria, "Four civilians injured by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/29/15
- "Killing one civilian and wounding four by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad," 1/2/15
- "Killing one civilian and wounding six others by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/27/15
- "Nine dead and wounded in detonation of two bombs in central Baghdad," 1/4/15
- "Seven civilians were injured by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/2/15
- "Source: 44 dead and 70 injured toll of bombings in central eastern Baghdad," 1/30/15
- "Three dead and nine wounded toll in Meshada bombing north of Baghdad," 1/18/15

Associated Press, "2 bombings kill 8 people in Iraq," 1/10/15
- "Officials say bombings in and around Iraq's capital, Baghdad, kill 9 people," 1/31/15

Buratha News, "Martyrdom and wounding seven people in the bombing north-west of Baghdad in Topchi area," 1/2/15

Al Forat, "3 policemen injured in southern Baghdad," 1/17/15
- "8 Civilians wounded in Habibiya," 1/23/15

Hassan, Alaa, "Wounding three members of the Awakening by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," Alsumaria, 1/21/15

Independent Press Agency, "21 dead and wounded toll of bombings east of Baghdad," 1/23/15
- "Injuring four people in bombing of the north-west of Baghdad," 1/27/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people blown up near a popular market in eastern Baghdad," 1/13/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/3/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people by a roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad," 1/4/15
- "Killing and injuring six people near the industrial district south of Baghdad," 1/3/15
- "Killing and wounding 10 people by a roadside bomb in central Baghdad's Karrada," 1/4/15
- "Killing and wounding a number of members of the Awakening in blast south of Baghdad," 1/10/15
- "Killing and wounding four civilians in explosion west of Baghdad," 1/10/15
- "Killing and wounding nine people in central Baghdad blast," 1/10/15
- "Killing two people and wounding seven others by a bomb in eastern Baghdad," 1/7/15
- "Seven people killed and injured by a roadside bomb near the "Garage" in eastern Baghdad," 1/1/15

Iraq Times, "17 martyrs and injured in the blasts in eastern Baghdad," 1/7/15
- "Café in eastern Baghdad targeted with 13 martyrs and wounded," 1/23/15
- "The death and wounding of 23 civilians in three explosive blasts in eastern Baghdad," 1/30/15
- "Four explosions in Baghdad predicted 41 martyrs and wounded," 1/23/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding 10 members of the police and army reserve by terrorist operations in Baghdad," 1/6/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding 14 people in three explosions in Baghdad," 1/25/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding 20 people in three explosions in central Baghdad," 1/3/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding 33 people amid pandemonium by a roadside bomb in Baghdad market," 1/25/15
- "Martyrs and wounded of the army reserve in explosion south of Baghdad," 1/6/15

Al Mada, "Four terrorists killed including a leader in clash west of Baghdad," 1/24/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people blown up near a popular restaurant west of Baghdad," 1/22/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people blown up near a yard sale for sheep north of Baghdad," 1/6/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/26/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad," 1/17/15
- "Killing and injuring eight people south of Baghdad detonated near Mall," 1/6/15
- "Killing and injuring nine people bombing north of Baghdad," 1/21/15
- "Killing and injuring nine people by a roadside bomb in central Baghdad," 1/24/15
- "Killing and injuring nine people south of Baghdad," 1/14/15
- "Killing and injuring seven people by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/27/15
- "Killing and injuring six people in west of Baghdad bombing," 1/9/15
- "Killing and injuring six people west of Baghdad bombing," 1/26/15
- "Killing and injuring ten people blown up near a popular market in eastern Baghdad," 1/27/15
- "Killing and injuring ten people in bombing north of Baghdad," 1/5/15
- "Killing and injuring ten people by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/26/15
- "Killing and wounding 11 people in a bombing north of Baghdad," 1/21/15
- "Killing and wounding 11 people in bombing south of Baghdad," 1/25/15
- "Killing and wounding 11 people south of Baghdad in detonation near shops," 1/22/15
- "Killing and wounding 12 people by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad," 1/31/15
- "Killing and wounding eight people bombing south of Baghdad," 1/18/15
- "Killing and wounding four people including officer and his son blown up southeast of Baghdad," 1/20/15
- "Killing and wounding four soldiers blown up south of Baghdad," 1/31/15
- "Killing and wounding nine people in central Baghdad bombing," 1/9/15
- "Killing and wounding nine people in eastern Baghdad bombing," 1/4/15
- "Killing and wounding seven people blown up near a west Baghdad park," 1/7/15
- "Killing and wounding seven people blown up north of Baghdad," 1/1/15
- "Killing and wounding seven people in central Baghdad bombing," 1/2/15
- "Killing and wounding seven people in eastern Baghdad bombing," 1/5/15
- "Killing and wounding seven policemen in double bombing south-east of Baghdad," 1/18/15
- "Killing and injuring six people blown up near a mosque south of Baghdad," 1/12/15
- "Killing and injuring six people south of Baghdad in bombing," 1/19/15
- "Killing and wounding six soldiers blown up targeting their patrol west of Baghdad," 1/8/15
- "Killing and injuring ten people blown up north-east of Baghdad," 1/12/15
- "Killing and injuring ten people blown up south west of Baghdad," 1/15/15
- "Killing and wounding 11 people in bombing north of Baghdad," 1/9/15
- "Killing and wounding seven people in bombing of sweets booth eastern Baghdad," 1/14/15
- "Killing and wounding six policemen in bombing targeting a patrol south of Baghdad," 1/24/15
- "Seven people killed and injured by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad," 1/13/15
- "Wounding eight people west of Baghdad detonated near shops," 1/19/15
- "Wounding nine people blown up in central Baghdad," 1/14/15
- "Wounding nine people in bombing south of Baghdad," 1/8/15
- "Wounding three policemen blown up south-east of Baghdad," 1/25/15

Al Masalah, "3 injured members of security patrol by roadside bomb in Baghdad," 1/6/15
- "The death of a member of the popular brigades in a roadside bomb in Baghdad," 1/28/15
- "The death of one civilian and wounding seven by two explosions in Baghdad," 1/26/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding of civilians by improvised explosive device in Baghdad," 1/31/15

New Sabah, "Security file," 1/18/15

NINA, "Breaking News../16/ people wounded in the bombing of a series of explosive devices in different parts of Baghdad in the," 1/22/15
- "Wounded two civilians by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/12/15

Al Rayy, "1 died and seven wounded by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/21/15
- "The death of one civilian and wounding six others by two bombs north of Baghdad," 1/16/15
- "Martyrdom an element of the popular brigades and injuring two others by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad," 1/20/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding 12 people by a roadside bomb in the holy door in central Baghdad," 1/24/15
- "Martyrdom and wounding of 10 people by a roadside bomb in New Baghdad," 1/24/15
- "Three civilians were wounded by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/9/15
- "Three people were injured by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad," 1/3/14
- "Two people killed and six wounded by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad," 1/3/15

Salaheddin, Sinan, "Officials say bombings kill 10 in Iraq's capital, Baghdad," Associated Press, 1/25/15

World Bulletin, "At least 55 killed in Iraq violence," 1/12/15

Xinhua, "65 killed in clashes, bomb attacks in Iraq," 1/25/15

Yacoub, Sameer, "Attacks kill 8 people in Iraq," Associated Press, 1/20/15
- "Attacks kill 9 people in Iraq," Associated Press, 1/16/15
- "Iraqi officials: Attacks in and around Baghdad kill 8," Associated Press, 1/26/15
- "Officials say 2 bombings kill 7 people in Iraq's capital," Associated Press, 1/24/15
- "Officials say market bombings kill 18 around Iraq's capital," Associated Press, 1/17/15

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