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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

‘Good now’

by Lily Hamourtziadou

17 Feb 2008

‘Results for 2007 prove that – Baghdad is good now,’ the Iraqi Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassim Mohammed said last week, while attending a conference in Dubai. Is that right? Is Baghdad good now? Let’s look at what the figures show:

In 2007, 10,700 civilians were killed in Baghdad, about half of those killed overall in Iraq. More recently, 233 civilians were killed 1-18 February 2008. How good is that? And by what standards? The only good thing about all this is that it is happening somewhere else, to some other unfortunate people, to someone else’s country, someone else’s life. As long as this nightmare is someone else’s reality, we can speak of ‘good’ things, of ‘good’ developments, of ‘improved’ security, of some sort of ‘normality’ returning.

All due to the famous ‘surge’ no doubt, as many have suggested. Here is an excerpt from Al-Sabah, concerning Prime Minister Al-Maliki’s visit to Baghdad’s Mansour district:

"life has got back to normal pace in the previously volatile neighbourhoods of Baghdad, due to the security achievements in combating terror by the Iraqi security forces and with the cooperation of the local inhabitants."

That is what the Iraqi PM stated. So the security plan ‘Enforcing the Law’ was a success. As much as it could be, when as many as 22,000 civilians died during the year of its implementation. Around 1,300 of his civilian population, people to whom PM al-Maliki is accountable, were killed by his ‘allies,’ his country’s occupiers, its supposed protectors.

As for the past week, over 180 civilians lost their lives in violence, 28 by US fire. Of the 180, 20 were children. In Mosul, locals are bracing themselves for the US/Iraqi offensive to ‘flush out insurgents.’ According to Azzaman newspaper, tens of thousands of residents are fleeing to safer areas, as US and Iraqi troops are putting up security barriers and walls in the city.

In the US, as much as in Iraq, the debate over troop withdrawals is raging. Top US diplomat in Iraq Ryan Crocker warned against setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops, as that could place the security of Iraqis in jeopardy. ‘Anyone contemplating that course of action should contemplate very seriously what the consequences would be,’ he told the Guardian.

The Iraqi Defence Minister agrees. His country needs the US army to ‘protect its borders’ and for ‘strategic deterrence.’ As for John McCain, frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, US withdrawal from Iraq in the near future would mean ‘chaos’ and possibly ‘genocide.’

How worried they all are about the consequences of such an action. How wary they are of an ensuing genocide, of chaos, of the collapse of the state, the society, the rule of law. If only they had been as wary before they proceeded to invade this country, before they destroyed this society, creating terror, refugees, and causing thousands of civilian deaths. Had they been so then, one might take them seriously now, one might believe them when they say they are concerned about the Iraqis and their welfare.

But those responsible for such devastation have lost their credibility. They lost it long ago, when they defied all the rules, when they went against all that is humane. When they lied to us all.

‘US Struggles to Tutor Iraqis in Rule of Law’ read the headline (New York Times, 16 Feb. 2008). I nearly laughed.