Despite various warnings of an increase in violence before Iraq's March 7, 2010 parliamentary elections, the latest casualty counts do not show a significant increase in deaths. Rather February 2010 followed the same pattern set in 2009. As has been the trend since April 2009, deaths have continued to go up and down each month. January 2010 had a low number of deaths, which meant February would have a higher count. According to Iraq Body Count for example, December 2009 saw 426 killed, followed by 258 in January, and 282 in February. Of the four major agencies that track Iraqi deaths (Iraq Body Count, icasualties, Iraqi ministries, and the Associated Press) Iraq's Interior, Defense, and Health ministries recorded the most deaths last month with 352.
Mass casualty bombings have also begun to follow the same up and down pattern as casualties since July 2009. In February 2010 there were 11 such attacks, resulting in 160 deaths and 492 wounded. That compared to 10 mass casualty bombings in January with 100 dead and 407 wounded. Most of February's bombing fatalities came from a series of attacks on Shiites celebrating the Arbaeen festival in Baghdad and Karbala that killed over 100. Attacking sectarian targets like Shiite pilgrims has also been the focus of militants in the last two months rather than government institutions as happened in August, October, and December 2009. That was probably due to increased security and intelligence gathering by the Iraqi police and army, which allegedly foiled a large attack in Baghdad in January 2010, forcing Al Qaeda and other insurgents to take up other targets of opportunity.
Both the monthly death counts and bombing statistics show that violence in Iraq has hit a plateau. After dropping to their lowest levels since the U.S. invasion due to the January 2009 provincial elections, casualties and bombings have leveled off, and settled into a predictable pattern. It will be interesting to see whether March's balloting will have any effect, because greater political participation by disenfranchised groups could lead to another decrease in violence as happened last year, or a maintenance of the status quo in government could just keep things the same overall in Iraq.
|Month||Iraq Body Count||Icasualties||Iraqi Ministries||Associated Press|
Mass Casualty Bombings
Associated Press, "Iraq: Key figures since the war began," 3/1/10
Aswat al-Iraq, "2 killed, 9 wounded in Mosul blast," 2/16/10
- "2 killed, 10 wounded in blast in Mosul," 2/26/10
- "23 wounded in Mosul blast," 2/18/10
- "41 dead, 144 wounded in Karbala's arbaeen blasts - medica," 2/5/10
- "Baghdad blast leaves 1 dead, 11 injured," 2/5/10
- "Casualties from Baghdad bombing rise to 147," 2/1/10
- "East Karbala blast death toll up to 6," 2/4/10
- "Female suicide bomber attack leaves 14 casualties in Kufa," 2/12/10
- "Ramadi bombing attacks' casualties up to 27," 2/18/10
- "Strong blast kills 2, injures 23 in Karbala," 2/3/10
Faraj, Salam, "Iraqi death toll rises markedly in February," Agence France Presse, 3/1/10
International Crisis Group, "Iraq's Uncertain Future: Elections and Beyond," 2/25/10
Iraq Body Count