Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Iraq Suppressed Deaths To Make PM Maliki Look Good


With the success of the Surge casualties in Iraq started a steady decline in the second half of 2007 that continued for the next several years. The figures released by the Iraqi government however, were much lower than the others. That was on purpose after a high ranking official at the Health Ministry ordered casualty figures to be cut in half to support Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Starting in September 2007 the fatality figures issued by the Iraqi government, and especially the Health Ministry, took a dramatic drop. In August 2007, the Interior, Defense, and Health ministries reported that 1,856 people had died in Iraq that month. (1) The next month there were 884 killed, (2) 758 in October, (3) 538 in November, (4) and 568 in December. From February to April 2008 there was a spike in deaths due to the operations against the Mahdi Army in Basra, Maysan, and Baghdad, but then the numbers continued their downward trajectory reaching a low of 316 in December. (5) 

The trend that Baghdad’s statistics followed was the same as Iraq Body Count (IBC), the United Nations and others, the issue was that they were so much lower than the rest. In January 2008 for instance, the Interior, Defense, and Health ministries claimed 541 dead versus 858 by Iraq Body Count, and 1,064 by the United Nations. That gap between the government’s figures and the IBC’s and U.N.’s continued throughout the year. In May the Health Ministry had 505 dead, (6) while IBC had 914 and the U.N. 1,000. For all of 2008, the Iraqi authorities reported 6,448 deaths minus August when no figures could be found. In comparison, IBC had 9,567 killed for that period, and the U.N. 10,908. The Iraqi government and U.N. included all fatalities from civilians, police, soldiers, and sahwa, while the Iraq Body Count did not include soldiers. The difference was 3,000-4,000. It turned out that was done on purpose.

In late 2007 the word was sent out to reduce the monthly casualty figures to boost the standing of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The order came from Dr. Adil Mohsin Khazali, the Health Ministry’s long time inspector general, and a member of Maliki’s Dawa Party. In September 2007 he told Baghdad’s hospitals to cut their numbers in half to improve the standing of the premier. The capital was the center of the fighting in the country, so having the medical centers there reduce their monthly statistics would cut the overall numbers significantly. That explains why the Iraqi figures were always several hundred lower than IBC and U.N.’s. That trend would continue for years, and is being repeated in the present day. After the battles of Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah, etc. no official numbers were released for how many members of the Iraqi forces were killed or wounded. Like before, the goal is to promote the successes of the government’s security plans.

Comparison Of Iraq Death Counts
Month
Iraqi Govt
Iraq Body Count
U.N.
Aug 07
1,856 (IDH)
2,481
-
Sep
884 (H)
1,387
-
Oct
758 (H)
1,324
-
Nov
538 (G)
1,124
-
Dec
568 (IDH)
996
-
Jan 08
541(IDH)
858
1,064
Feb
721(IDH)
1,092
1,304
Mar
1,270 (IDH)
1,667
2,011
Apr
1,082 (IDH)
1,315
1,869
May
505 (H)
914
1,000
Jun
448 (H)
750
821
Jul
465 (IH)
639
688
Aug
?
704
682
Sep
440 (IDH)
612
625
Oct
320 (IDH)
594
559
Nov
340 (IDH)
540
463
Dec
316 (IDH)
586
504
(I) – Interior, (D) – Defense, (H) – Health, (G) - Govt

FOOTNOTES

1. Agence France Presse, “Iraq violence surges in February,” 3/1/08

2. Tait, Paul, “Civilian deaths in Iraq halve in Sept: government,” Reuters, 10/1/07

3. Parker, Ned, “Iraqi civilian deaths plunge,” Los Angeles Times, 11/1/07

4. Al Jazeera.net, “Returning Iraqis pose new challenge,” 12/6/07

5. Agence France Presse, “Iraq Hails Lowest Monthly Death Toll in Three Years,” 1/2/09

6. Black, Ian, “Jordan appoints ambassador to Iraq after five-year absence,” Guardian, 7/2/08

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq Hails Lowest Monthly Death Toll in Three Years,” 1/2/09
-“Iraq violence surges in February,” 3/1/08
- “Iraqi Deaths Up in October in Blow to US ‘Surge,’” 11/2/07

Black, Ian, “Jordan appoints ambassador to Iraq after five-year absence,” Guardian, 7/2/08

Faraj, Salam, “Iraqi MPs, Sadr meet in Iran in bid to end clashes,” Agence France Presse, 5/1/08

Fischer, Hannah, “Iraqi Civilian Deaths Estimates,” Congressional Research Service, 9/5/07

Glanz, James, “Civilian Death Toll Falls in Baghdad but Rises Across Iraq,” New York Times, 9/2/07

Gordon, Michael and Trainor, General Bernard, The Endgame, The Inside Story Of The Struggle For Iraq, From George W. Bush To Barack Obama, New York, Pantheon, 2012

Iraq Body Count, “Documented civilian deaths from violence”

Al Jazeera.net, “Returning Iraqis pose new challenge,” 12/6/07

Korb, Lawrence Biddle, Stephen, “Violence by the Numbers in Iraq: Sound Data or Shaky Statistics?” Council on Foreign Relations, 9/25/07

Mulrine, Anna, “Quieting Mean Streets,” U.S. News & World Report, 10/22/07

Parker, Ned, “Iraqi civilian deaths plunge,” Los Angeles Times, 11/1/07

Parker, Ned and Spiegel, Peter, “A combat troop withdrawal from Iraq?” Los Angeles Times, 8/1/08

Partlow, Joshua and Nouri, Naseer, “In Iraq, a Lull or Hopeful Trend?” Washington Post, 11/2/07

Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Deaths of Iraqis in July Lower Than in May, June,” Washington Post, 8/2/08

Reid, Robert, “Britain Delays Cutting Troops in Iraq,” Associated Press, 4/1/08

Reuters, “Iraq civilian death toll up, U.S. deaths down,” 12/1/08

Alsumaria, “Iraq death toll lowest since five years,” 2/2/09
- “Iraq violence kills 320 people in October,” 11/1/08

Susman, Tina, “Troop buildup fails to reconcile Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 9/4/07
- “U.S. defends sectarian death figures,” Los Angeles Times, 9/13/07

Tait, Paul, “Civilian deaths in Iraq halve in Sept: government,” Reuters, 10/1/07

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, December 2008

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