Monday, November 6, 2017

How Violence Declined In Iraq, 2014-2017


Iraq is currently witnessing some of the lowest levels of violence since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. That was precipitated by the defeat of the Islamic State in Mosul in July 2017. There was no way the organization could hold its remaining territory in Iraq, so why put up a fight and lose more men when it could try to fight another day. Its cadres were collapsing while it was also falling back to regroup. Even before that however, security had been improving in Iraq as IS was not able to sustain its attacks across the country like it once had. The change in the security situation is shown by a comparison of the last four years of security statistics.

Since 2014 there has been a steady decline in the number of incidents in Iraq. That started even before the Islamic State’s summer offensive of 2014 when it seized Mosul, Tikrit, and Hawija in northern and central Iraq. From January to April 2014 there were over 30 incidents per day in Iraq. In January 2014 for example there was 32.7. When the summer offensive began the figures actually dropped to 30.1 in June, 30.2 in July down to 26.3 in August, 23.8 in September and then 22.7 by December. There was a temporary spike in statistics in early 2015 as the insurgents seized most of central Anbar and increased its terrorist attacks in Baghdad. That led to 29.4 incidents per day in January, 26.2 in February, 26.7 in March, and 25.1 in April before dropping in the second half of the year to 21.2 in December. From 2016 to the start of 2017 the number of incidents leveled off with 23.3 in January 2016 and then 22.9 in January 2017. After the Battle of Mosul concluded there was a huge decline from July with 15.3, then August with 11.5, September at 10.2 and finally October at 9.2. That was a 72% drop in violence from the start of 2014 to October 2017.

Avg Attacks Per Day Iraq 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
32.7
Feb
34.1
Mar
32.0
Apr
33.0
May
29.1
Jun
30.1
Jul
30.2
Aug
26.3
Sep
23.8
Oct
24.2
Nov
20.3
Dec
22.7
Jan 2015
29.3
Feb
26.2
Mar
26.7
Apr
25.1
May
22.3
Jun
23.7
Jul
22.3
Aug
22.4
Sep
21.8
Oct
19.2
Nov
17.9
Dec
21.1
Jan 2016
23.3
Feb
22.6
Mar
22.0
Apr
21.0
May
21.7
Jun
21.0
Jul
17.1
Aug
18.5
Sep
19.1
Oct
19.0
Nov
19.9
Dec
18.7
Jan 2017
22.9
Feb
21.8
Mar
23.0
Apr
18.7
May
16.7
Jun
17.7
Jul
15.3
Aug
11.5
Sep
10.2
Oct
9.2

Anbar was where the Islamic State began its power grab. In December 2013, it joined tribes and other insurgent groups in seizing the city of Fallujah. From 2014-2015 it took the Syrian-Jordanian border region followed by the center of the province topped off with capturing Ramadi. That was shown with a dip in incidents from 7.7 in January 2014 down to 4.2 in December before going up in the first half of 2015 with an average of 5 incidents per day. In 2016, the government went on the offensive to recapture Ramadi and Fallujah resulting in a slight spike in incidents in the second half of 2016 going from 3.6 in January up to 4.1 in June. Afterward the governorate ceased to be a major battlefield as IS was simply holding ground while Baghdad was focusing upon the rest of the country. As a result, from July 2016 to October 2017 there has only been around 1 incident per day.

Avg Attacks Per Day Anbar 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
7.7
Feb
6.1
Mar
6.8
Apr
6.0
May
4.4
Jun
5.2
Jul
4.7
Aug
4.6
Sep
3.5
Oct
5.7
Nov
3.7
Dec
4.2
Jan 2015
5.6
Feb
4.9
Mar
5.0
Apr
5.4
May
5.2
Jun
5.7
Jul
5.1
Aug
4.7
Sep
3.6
Oct
2.9
Nov
2.8
Dec
2.9
Jan 2016
3.6
Feb
3.5
Mar
3.2
Apr
3.1
May
3.9
Jun
4.1
Jul
1.2
Aug
1.9
Sep
1.8
Oct
1.0
Nov
0.7
Dec
1.0
Jan 2017
1.6
Feb
1.0
Mar
1.1
Apr
1.3
May
1.3
Jun
1.3
Jul
1.0
Aug
13
Sep
1.3
Oct
1.0

When the militants seized northern Iraq in the summer of 2014 there was a fear that they would march on Baghdad. That was never going to happen. Instead, IS launched a huge terrorist campaign in the capital province that lasted from the end of 2014 to the end of 2016. For instance, in December 2014 there were an average of 6.6 incidents per day. That jumped to a high of 11.6 in January and February 2016. The offensive went to September 2016 when there were 10.8 incidents before witnessing a steady decline down to just 2.4 incidents in October. Those were some of the lowest statistics since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This decline started when the Battle of Mosul began. It was likely a mix of IS pulling back its cadres while a new Baghdad Operations commander was also appointed that focused upon the rural areas of the governorate where the insurgents had their main bases.

Avg Attacks Per Day Baghdad 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
7.1
Feb
6.6
Mar
6.6
Apr
6.0
May
6.1
Jun
6.0
Jul
7.0
Aug
5.5
Sep
6.2
Oct
5.0
Nov
5.9
Dec
6.6
Jan 2015
8.9
Feb
9.2
Mar
9.9
Apr
10.0
May
10.0
Jun
10.4
Jul
9.1
Aug
8.4
Sep
9.8
Oct
8.4
Nov
8.7
Dec
10.8
Jan 2016
11.6
Feb
11.6
Mar
10.6
Apr
9.2
May
9.1
Jun
8.9
Jul
8.9
Aug
10.1
Sep
10.8
Oct
8.3
Nov
7.9
Dec
4.7
Jan 2017
5.9
Feb
4.9
Mar
4.0
Apr
3.3
May
3.0
Jun
2.6
Jul
3.3
Aug
3.1
Sep
2.7
Oct
2.4

Diyala went from a main front in the war to a sideshow to where the Islamic State was rebuilding. In the summer of 2014 the militants attempted to seize the province, but was pushed back by a mix of the security forces and militias, which would become the Hashd. That was seen with an extreme jump in incidents from around 2 per day from January to May 2014, which then went up to 4.4 in June and 4.8 in July. For the next two years, there were temporary spikes in attacks, but usually only around 1-2 incidents per day. By 2017, IS was regrouping in Diyala resulting in an increase in attacks in the middle of the year, especially mass casualty bombings, but that leveled off in the second half of the year with 1.6 incidents in January going up to 2.0 in June and then down to 0.6 in October. In fact, there was one week in October where no violence was reported at all.

Avg Attacks Per Day Diyala 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
2.2
Feb
2.3
Mar
2.2
Apr
2.3
May
1.9
Jun
4.4
Jul
4.8
Aug
3.0
Sep
1.8
Oct
1.9
Nov
1.5
Dec
1.8
Jan 2015
2.0
Feb
2.3
Mar
2.2
Apr
2.1
May
1.6
Jun
1.4
Jul
1.4
Aug
1.4
Sep
1.3
Oct
1.3
Nov
0.7
Dec
0.9
Jan 2016
1.9
Feb
1.2
Mar
1.4
Apr
1.4
May
1.9
Jun
1.8
Jul
2.0
Aug
10
Sep
1.2
Oct
1.4
Nov
0.9
Dec
0.8
Jan 2017
1.6
Feb
1.6
Mar
1.0
Apr
1.7
May
1.4
Jun
2.0
Jul
1.3
Aug
1.5
Sep
1.1
Oct
0.6

In Kirkuk, IS picked up its attacks at the start of 2014 before its summer offensive during which it seized almost half of the province. That resulted in several spikes of 2 incidents per day in February, April and June of 2014. After that there would be occasional increases in violence, especially in 2016, but even then there were less usually less than 2 incidents per day. In 2017, security levelled off with less than 1 incident per day on average, and only went up in October to 1.4 when the federal forces confronted the Kurds for control of Kirkuk and the disputed territories.

Avg Attacks Per Day Kirkuk 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
1.6
Feb
2.5
Mar
1.6
Apr
2.2
May
0.7
Jun
2.1
Jul
2.0
Aug
1.8
Sep
1.4
Oct
0.8
Nov
0.8
Dec
1.1
Jan 2015
1.8
Feb
0.5
Mar
0.9
Apr
0.9
May
0.9
Jun
0.7
Jul
0.6
Aug
1.4
Sep
1.0
Oct
1.1
Nov
05
Dec
0.8
Jan 2016
1.0
Feb
2.0
Mar
1.5
Apr
1.6
May
1.9
Jun
1.1
Jul
1.4
Aug
1.3
Sep
1.1
Oct
1.6
Nov
1.4
Dec
0.8
Jan 2017
0.8
Feb
0.7
Mar
0.6
Apr
0.7
May
0.6
Jun
0.7
Jul
0.9
Aug
0.9
Sep
0.8
Oct
1.4

Mosul was IS’s capital in Iraq, but after it seized the city there was barely any fighting in Ninewa for two years before the government took back the province. At the start of 2014 there was an increase in violence from 5.4 incidents in January up to around 6 per day from February to May. Then the insurgents took Mosul and incidents dropped to just 2 per day from July to December of 2014. In 2015, there were some spikes such as during the start of the year and then towards the end as IS attacked the government forces and then the Kurds, but for most of the 2015-16 period there were just 2-3 incidents per day. In October 2016, Baghdad started the Mosul campaign that led to a huge jump incidents with a high of 14.6 in March. Afterward, violence precipitously dropped off to just 2 incidents per day in October.

Avg Attacks Per Day Ninewa 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
5.4
Feb
6.5
Mar
5.8
Apr
6.2
May
5.9
Jun
3.4
Jul
2.6
Aug
2.4
Sep
2.1
Oct
2.0
Nov
1.9
Dec
2.0
Jan 2015
4.8
Feb
3.9
Mar
3.6
Apr
2.5
May
1.7
Jun
1.8
Jul
2.7
Aug
2.9
Sep
2.8
Oct
1.6
Nov
2.6
Dec
3.9
Jan 2016
2.3
Feb
2.2
Mar
3.0
Apr
3.5
May
3.1
Jun
2.6
Jul
1.6
Aug
2.4
Sep
1.8
Oct
5.0
Nov
7.4
Dec
10.1
Jan 2017
10.6
Feb
11.4
Mar
14.6
Apr
9.8
May
8.6
Jun
9.4
Jul
6.5
Aug
2.9
Sep
2.1
Oct
2.0

In 2014, Salahaddin was a major focus of the Islamic State, but after it seized Tikrit and was turned back in the south it ceased to be a concern. At the start of 2014 there were 6-7 incidents per day, but then Tikrit was taken in June, which led to a drop in incidents from 6.5 in June down to 5.5 in December, and then 2.8 in June 2015 to 1.5 in December. Since then there have only been around an average of 1 incident per day. In 2017, the insurgents began rebuilding in the governorate, which led to more mass casualty bombings and large scale attacks, but that didn't much increase the average number of incidents, which remained at an average of 1 per day.

Avg Attacks Per Day Salahaddin 2014-2017
Month
Avg Attacks Per Day
Jan 2014
6.7
Feb
7.7
Mar
6.5
Apr
7.3
May
6.4
Jun
6.5
Jul
5.9
Aug
5.5
Sep
6.2
Oct
6.6
Nov
4.7
Dec
5.5
Jan 2015
5.1
Feb
4.4
Mar
4.2
Apr
3.6
May
2.2
Jun
2.8
Jul
2.6
Aug
2.9
Sep
2.6
Oct
3.1
Nov
2.0
Dec
1.5
Jan 2016
2.1
Feb
1.5
Mar
1.5
Apr
1.3
May
1.0
Jun
1.7
Jul
1.1
Aug
0.8
Sep
1.5
Oct
0.9
Nov
0.9
Dec
0.6
Jan 2017
1.8
Feb
1.0
Mar
1.0
Apr
1.2
May
0.9
Jun
1.1
Jul
1.3
Aug
0.9
Sep
1.0
Oct
0.7


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