Monday, June 30, 2008

Iraq Update

All measurements of violence and casualties in Iraq continue to fall. U.S. casualties are at their lowest two month total since the invasion of Iraq. The demise of the "powerful" Mahdi Army is examined. Voluntary pacification programs are encouraging hundreds of former insurgents to turn themselves in. Iraq is opening the bidding for exploitation of its oil resources. The government of Iraq plans to spend huge funds rehabilitating Sadr City. And lastly, Talisman Gate raises a problematic area that has no good solutions.
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Falling Casualties

This from Bizzy Blog with charts:

With less than 10 hours remaining until the end of June in Iraq at the time of this post, it is clear, barring heavy last-minute casuaties, that May and June will show the lowest two-month total of US troop deaths in the five-year history of our involvement there.

How with the media handle the news?

. . . May-June two-month total of 48 troop deaths from all causes is quite a bit lower than any other two-month period in the entire war. The next-lowest is 60, in November and December of 2007.

The two-month death toll of 38 from hostile causes is the lowest since August and September of 2003. . . .

The Iraqi death toll also continues its downward trajectory. The month of June saw a further 10% drop in deaths due to political violence over May's figures. This continues a trend since the summer of 2007, with a blip that occurred in March and April when the government initiated offensives against the Sadrists.

The gains made by the counterinsurgency strategy are huge, and everyone is crossing their fingers, hoping that they hold. If they do, than the "military and political developments that have caused attacks against Coalition troops to fall by 80 percent year-on-year will be viewed with success."

The Demise of the "Powerful" Mahdi Army:

Sadr announced the demobilization of the Mahdi Army about two weeks ago. Long War Journal reports that the decision came amidst high casualties and a loss of public support:

The Mahdi Army suffered a significant blow during fighting against Iraqi and Coalition forces this year, according to an Iraq intelligence report. . . .

. . . "This led to the almost complete collapse of the army," the official said. An estimated 1,300 Mahdi Army fighters "escaped to safe houses in Iran." Muqtada al Sadr currently resides in Qom, Iran, under the protection of Iran's Qods Force. . . .

The setbacks in Baghdad, Basrah, and the South have forced Sadr to turn the Mahdi Army into "a secret military organization," the Iraqi report stated. "The number of members doesn't exceed 150-200, hugely down from the total estimated number of 50,000 in the past two years."

Iraqi intelligence believes the Mahdi Army, which is funded and supported by Iran, "will be somewhat [similar] to Al Qaida and some of the other Sunni armed groups and will have to carry out quality operations against US forces and assassinate some of the important Iraqi figures [to prove itself]."

. . . The intelligence report suggests Sadr was forced to change strategy and retreat in the face of heavy casualties and dwindling support from the Shia population. . . .

Read the entire article.

Voluntary Pacification:

As the Iraqi government and U.S. forces bring greater security, many insurgents are voluntarily turning themselves in, taking advantage of U.S. programs, as word has gotten out that they will be treated fairly. This from NPR reporting on one such program in Salahuddin province:

Iraq's Salahuddin province has been known for years as a violent stronghold of Sunni insurgents, including al-Qaida. But lately it has been relatively quiet. U.S. military units there say that's because former rebel fighters are turning themselves in by the hundreds — including some who had been the most virulently anti-American leaders.

Read the entire report.

Other Iraq Related News:

Iraq produces 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. The country has just opened bidding for 35 oil companies to rehabilitate existing fields and to drill new areas, with the expectation of raising production to 4 million barrels per day.

With Sadr City now under its control, the government of Iraq has pledged $100 million dollars to rebuild Sadr City and to bring in jobs and services.

War is chaotic, solutions to problems are often muddled and gray. Thus you do have probably more than a few very bad actors in the Sons of Iraq and on the U.S. payroll who Iraq decides they do not wish to forgive and forget. Nibras Karzimi discusses one such instance at Talisman Gate. It is one of countless such issues that will rise and be resolved, probably to no one's satisfaction, in the years ahead.


1 comment:

MK said...

"How with the media handle the news?"

They simply aren't, they'll ignore it as much as they can, can't have Bush's war painted in a positive light can we, got an election to win, so won't let any facts get in the way.

Good to hear the Mahdi army is disbanding, thank you MSM for letting us know about that one. we can always rely on them can't we.