2006-07-18

Securing Baghdad

Remember the punditry saying that the new permanent government really needed to secure Baghdad in order to begin to govern in earnest? Remember the emergency declaration for Baghdad?
One of al-Maliki's first actions, Biden explained, was to declare a state of emergency in certain contested sectors of Baghdad and send tens of thousands of security troops to keep the peace. In addition, al-Maliki made moves to rein in such Shiite militias as the Mahdi Army.
Personally, I was hopeful that with the legitimacy of a national unity government beneath it, the Iraqi government could start asserting itself more forcefully without creating a backlash. Unfortunately, it appears that even with securing Baghdad as its top priority, the combination of Iraqi and coalition force just isn't sufficient to quell the insurgency. In a United Nation's study of the violence, published by the NYTimes, are the cold numbers laid bare.
An average of more than 100 civilians per day were killed in Iraq last month, the highest monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad, the United Nations reported today.

...

United Nations officials also said that the number of violent deaths had been steadily increasing since at least last summer. In the first six months of this year, the civilian death toll jumped more than 77 percent, from 1,778 in January to 3,149 in June, the organization said.

This sharp upward trend reflected the dire security situation in Iraq as sectarian violence has worsened and Iraqi and American government forces have been powerless to stop it.

This is a cycle of violence ignited by the Zarqawi school of sectarian insurgency, and perpetuated by the positive feedback loop of revenge. Those damned positive feedback loops. They're just too difficult to abridge - especially when you're dealing with issues of life, death, and vengance.

And as a final statistic, just to tie it all together:
In its report, the United Nations said that 14,338 civilians had died violently in Iraq in the first six months of the year.
That, my friends, is a civil war.

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