14 augustus 2005

The situation in Iraq (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

Brookings Institution compiles many monthly statistics about the situation in Iraq. Too much in fact to talk about in this little post. So go see for yourself and take your own conclusions. Quite fortunate we know so much about Iraq these days isn’t it? At least one thing that works out all right. What else? Well, we hear about the many casualties the Americans are taking the past few weeks. But in fact if you take 2005 fatalities are way down compared with 2004. Especially the months after the elections saw a serious drop. At the same time the British are having almost no casualties. On the other hand we see a steady rise in Iraqi police and military deaths. The estimate of Iraqi civilians killed since the war is probably more than 20.000. And these numbers seem to continue to rise. So the big victims of the insurgents/terrorists are increasingly Iraqi’s themselves, and less the occupier/liberator. Speaking about the insurgents. There are some twenty thousand of them, of which a thousand foreign ones. What there nationalities are is not clear, but most of the killed ones are... Saudies. Crude oil production is still not up towards it’s pre-war peak. Electricity generation actually is up and above it’s pre-war level. In Baghdad however it’s dramatically down. Unemployment is down, but still it’s almost 40% and it stubbornly remains at that level since the elections. The number of telephone subscribers has risen almost fourfold since the war. The number of internet subscribers is exploding. There are 29 commercial tv-stations and 170 independent newspapers and magazines. While Americans are actually spending only half of promised aid, that ratio is much much worse for non-American aid. There are more children enrolled in primary education now than under Saddam. Two thirds of Iraqi’s think the country is going into the right direction. That number is spectaculary up since the elections. More than 80% of Iraqi’s thing life will be better one year from now. Even more and more Sunni are thinking the country is going into the right direction, but it still is a minority (but a big minority). Support for coalition forces is up, but it nevertheless remains small. Inadequate electricity, unemployment and healthcare are the three most important issues for the people. The presence of coalition forces comes in at seventh place (the Americans can take heart). The occupation seems to be less of a problem for Iraqi’s than for the jihadists. Altogether not too dismal, at least not compared with some news reports. The situation seems to be improving since the elections however with the one big exception of violence against the Iraqi people. Improving their security and getting the economy further on it’s tracks are the main challenges.

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