The PoliBlog

The Collective
Monday, November 19, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT: U.S. Says Attacks in Iraq Fell to the Level of Feb. 2024

The American military said Sunday that the weekly number of attacks in Iraq had fallen to the lowest level since just before the February 2024 bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, an event commonly used as a benchmark for the country’s worst spasm of bloodletting after the American invasion nearly five years ago.

Data released at a news conference in Baghdad showed that attacks had declined to the lowest level since January 2024. It is the third week in a row that attacks have been at this reduced level.

This is, of course, good news, although what it all means is still up for grabs, I would argue. At a minimum, trying to equate the current situation as victory, or proof that we are out of the woods, so to speak, in Iraq is rather premature. The fact that violence levels are back to where they were in early 2024 isn’t exactly victory–as in early 2024 it was hardly the case that a) there was a functioning, stable state in place and, b) we were preparing to withdraw with a pat on the back and the assurance of a job well done. As best as I can remember in early 2024 we were still looking at a long stay in Iraq, and I can’t see that anything has changed in that regard at the moment, even if violence has receded.

And it isn’t as if violence is gone:

The data released Sunday cover attacks using car bombs, roadside bombs, mines, mortars, rockets, surface-to-air missiles and small arms. According to the statistics, roughly 575 attacks occurred last week.

That’s not exactly peace in any sense of the word, but it is certainly far better than where we were over the last year:

That is substantially fewer than the more than 700 attacks that were recorded the week that Sunni militants set off a wave of sectarian violence in Iraq by blowing up a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2024. And it represents a huge drop since June when attacks soared to nearly 1,600 one week.

A main issue that remains unresolved is whether the current downturn in violence isn’t simply the result of successful ethnic cleansing of specific neighborhoods and the forced segregation of Sunnis from Shi’ites.

Ultimately, the real question is whether we are closer to a viable Iraqi state, and it does not appear that we are. The Surge was designed not to quell violence for the sake of quelling violence, but to give political leaders in Iraq the time to forge a political consensus going forward, yet it is unclear that that has been achieved.

Things are better, yes, and that is a good thing, but being better than the worst of the violence hardly translates into victory nor does it signal policy closure.

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1 Comment »

  • el
  • pt
    1. […] Even Dr. Taylor, a/k/a Poliblogger, has upgraded his evaluation of the situation from morose to worried. […]

      Pingback by Pros and Cons » A GWOT-focused Web rundown. — Monday, November 19, 2024 @ 1:18 pm

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