Clear trends in Iraqi violence

Dateline 12 April 2006

It’s a disaster. The predictions have proved hopelessly inaccurate. The figures are explicit and show clear trends. That these figures have remained hidden from the American people is a disgrace. It really is time those who have deceived people about Iraq for all this time took responsibility for this mess and resigned.

In just six months the number of US troop fatalities per month has tripled from 31 to 96. Every single month has seen a rise. Where is the outrage? Where are the media hiding?

The fatalities for Iraqi military and police personnel are more volatile, but again the trend is clear. More than a third up since July last year. Where is the outrage?

The number of car bombs per month is six times higher than a year ago. Who will take responsibility for this mess?

The number of foreign civilian contractors killed is now 14 times greater than in September last year. Why are the media ignoring this story?

The number of Iraqi civilians killed per month is more than five times greater than at the end of last summer. How bad does it have to get before someone calls this ‘failure’?

And look at the level political oppression in Iraq. Worse than all but two Arab countries.

No, wait, flip that. Those figures are all backwards. US troop fatalities have fallen from 96 in October to 31 last month. There was a month on month decline.

Fatalities among the Iraqi security forces were 304 last July and 193 in March. These figures are volatile from month to month. March was up on February, but February was the lowest figure in a year.

There were 22 car bombings in February (no figures for March yet), and 30 in each of the preceding months. That compares with a four-month run of around 70 a month from August to November, and a peak of more 130 per month in April and May last year.

Only one foreign civilian contractor was killed last month, as recently as last September 14 were murdered. 446 Iraqi civilians were killed last month. While these figures have varied wildly from one month to another, that was the lowest for almost a year, and in August last year the total was 2,489.

And on political freedom Iraq, though still experiencing a very challenging environment, and only at the beginning of its democratic journey, now has more freedom than any Arab country bar Lebanon or Morocco.

On every single measure the trends are clear. Far from standing on the brink of civil war as the western media like to pretend, Iraq seems to have passed the nadir of its turmoil. The worst period seems to have been in the summer or autumn of 2005. There is a long way to go. The installation of a new government is taking longer than it should, and that has clearly heightened the uncertainty. It will not be a smooth path from here on, but, though western journalists like to focus on the negative, they are six to nine months out of date. Iraq has looked over the precipice and decided, for the moment at least, not to jump.

Copyright (C) Quentin Langley 12 April 2006

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