2007 will be the deadliest year yet for US troops in Iraq. Seven American soldiers were killed on Monday alone, bringing this year’s total to 853, more than at any time since 2004 (the year of the Mahdi Army uprising among Shiites and the Salafi Jihadi push on Baghdad).
As Michael Munk writes,
‘ US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 178 combat casulties in the six days ending Nov. 6, as total casualties reached at least 61,596. The total includes 31,596 killed or wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as “hostile” causes and 30,294 (as of Oct. 1) dead and injured from “non-hostile” causes.
US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by routinely reporting only the total killed (3,855 as of Nov. 6) and rarely mentioning the 28,451 wounded in combat. To further minimize public perception of the cost, they cover for the Pentagon by ignoring the 30,294 (as of Oct. 1) military victims of accidents and illness serious enough to require medical evacuation, although the 3,855 reported deaths include 710 (up one since Oct. 31) who died from those same causes, including 130 suicides. ‘
Editor and Publisher is also suspicious of those “non-combat deaths,” which are 20% of the whole.
The numbers of US troops killed per month has declined in recent months from earlier highs, but it is unclear why. Since troops get killed when they are committed to action against militants, it is possible that they have been less often ordered into battle.
Although the Iraqi government’s Ministry of Health has issued statistics purporting to show a substantial drop in civilian deaths, that ministry is highly politicized and has been caught hiding things from journalists. If deaths were actually falling, it is hard to explain how the proportion of internally displaced grew by 16 percent in September alone, or how the number of internally displaced Iraqis has gone from 0.5 million to 2.1 million in the past 10 months! In this same period, Baghdad has gone from being 65% Shiite to being 75% Shiite. That would be a displacement of 600,000 Sunnis from the capital alone since January. I can’t square such massive internal refugee flows with declining violence very easily, though one possibility is that the US has disarmed so many Sunnis in Baghdad that they fled rather than fight for their neighborhoods.
Many of the displaced are in absolute poverty, having lost everything. Many girls are being forced into prostitution.
The tension between the Sadrists and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) is growing again in the Shiite south.
Three members of the Provincial Council of Karbala have been arrested and accused of being involved in 300 assassinations as well as in kidnappings for ransom, and it is alleged that such criminal elements have joined the Mahdi Army to benefit from its protection. Reading between the lines, I’d say that ISCI arrested three opposition Sadrist council members and accused them of being mobbed up.
Then the deputy governor of Karbala had to flee the city for Baghdad on Monday. Jawad al-Hasnawi, a Sadrist, says he was threatened by a group that wants to make Karbala an Iranian military camp in preparation for the coming fight against the Americans. He was referring to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and its paramilitary Badr Corps, who are close to Iran but also very close to Bush and the US. I.e. al-Hasnawi’s charges make no sense. You wonder if he was about to be arrested for corruption like the three other provincial council members.
Al-Hayat also notes that fighting has started up again between Sadrists and the Badr-dominated police in Diwaniya.
Reuters reports political violence for Tuesday.
The governor of Najaf province, a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, is arguing for loose federalism and provincial rights in Iraq.