Elham Asaad Buaras
9,472 civilians were killed in Iraq last year, more than double that of any of the preceding three years, according to a report published by web-based NGO, Iraq Body Count project (IBC).
2008 was the most comparable in levels of violence, when just over 10,000 civilians were reported killed. In 2008 however, that was a declining total from the much higher levels of 2006-2007, with the second half of 2008 less violent than the first.
In 2013 the trend is in the opposite direction, with around 2/3rds of the deaths occurring in the 2nd half of the year. If current violence levels continue unabated throughout the coming year, then 2014 threatens to be as deadly as 2004, which saw the two sieges of Fallujah and Iraq’s insurgency take hold.
“Iraq is now a fragmented state, where each party struggles to gain power, at the expense of the others, as they have incompatible security requirements, which means that the security of each cannot be assured at the same time as the security of its rivals or enemies,” IBC said in its report. “Thus they seek relative gains, where their own gain is a loss to another, rather than absolute gains, which require cooperation.”
In a statement to The Muslim News, IBC’s Lily Hamourtziadou notes that the rifts in Iraqi society have become ever more entrenched, with the Sunni-Shi’a political stalemate offering “fertile ground” to Al Qa’ida in Iraq who have “attacked the Government through killing members of its army, its police force, its politicians and journalists, as well as its Shi’a population.”
IBC maintains the world’s largest public database of violent civilian deaths since the 2003 invasion, as well as a separate running total which includes combatants. Information collected and analysed in 2013 has allowed IBC to update its assessment of the total numbers killed in Iraq since March 2003 (both civilian and combatant) to 184,000.
Its public database includes deaths caused by US-led coalition forces and paramilitary or criminal attacks by others. IBC’s documentary evidence is drawn from crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians, or of bodies being found, and is supplemented by the careful review and integration of hospital, morgue, NGO and official records.