Friday, August 28, 2009

New Iraqi Violence by the Numbers: Security Deteriorates Under Obama

From the New York Times, "New Iraqi Violence by the Numbers":

Is violence worsening in Iraq?

The answer is a matter of perspective, and thus is open to dispute, as it has almost always been since the war began.

The catastrophic suicide bombings outside two government ministries here nine days ago — the death toll of which was raised on Friday to 132, from 95 initially — were the worst of a series of major attacks across Iraq this month that have devastated a mosque, a cafe and, in one case, much of an entire village.

As a result, August is already the bloodiest month for Iraqis since April 2008, according to the invaluable Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, the independent organization that bases its tally on news reports. (The official monthly figures released by the Ministry of the Interior are often higher; the next are due on Monday. ....

Most of the attacks appear intended to provoke an ethnic or sectarian backlash or weaken the government and its security forces. That they have not sparked a deadly cycle of retaliation or brought the government to its knees is considered a measure of decreasing violence, or at least a decreasing impact of the violence.

It also provides little comfort. Almost everyone here senses an uptick in violence that even in the best weeks remains an unnerving undercurrent of Iraqi life. Perceptions matter, even if the exact number of attacks suggests something different.

The Aug. 19 bombings, for example, struck the very heart of the government in the center of Baghdad, possibly with the collusion of Iraqi security officials. It might be one attack in the statistics, but it caused disproportionate damage, real and perceived.

“This was a serious security breach,” Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said in an interview in the shattered remains of his ministry compound, where the stench of death lingered a week after the bombing.

The attacks appeared to rattle Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government, which descended into finger-pointing and is now reconsidering its decision to remove blast walls from Baghdad and, according to Mr. Zebari, its reluctance to openly rely on American forces for security.

Major attacks have come in waves this year; American commanders say that the insurgents need time to regroup after each attack before planning new ones. Even so, they are still able to attack, seemingly at will, which is why few here speak of violence declining — now or anytime soon.

“Those people who conducted this well organized and coordinated attack believe that the situation in Iraq after six years is reversible or could be reversible,” Mr. Zebari said. “We anticipate that there could be more attacks.”
See also, Alexander Nekrassov, "Situation In Iraq Getting Worse. So What’s The Plan, Mr Obama?"; and the Astute Bloggers, "IRAQ'S BLOODIEST DAY SINCE OBAMA INAUGURATION," and "IRAQI: 'OBAMA IS THROWING AWAY OUR COMMON VICTORY."