2005/01/29

Iraq Elections, Militants, Death and Contradictions

I read a few intersting comments at the Standard made by Gen. George Casey the top US commander in Baghdad.

He described as inflated a recent estimate by Iraq's intelligence chief that the insurgency numbered as many as 40,000 hard-core fighters and swelled to 200,000 when part-time combatants and sympathizers were included.

“It's not a number I would subscribe to,” said Casey, a four-star general who is in charge of more than 150,000 US and other coalition troops. The insurgency, Casey said, had become “better organized” in recent months, though US commanders say the force still lacks a central command.

The top general predicted a successful election Sunday, even though the United States is braced for attacks on voters and polling stations.

I'll interject this here as for its relevance to the above sentence.

Overall, President Ghazi al-Yawer at a news conference the day before the vote, predicted that a majority of the country's eligible voters would not show up at the polls. Guardian

Back to Gen. Casey..“We can't stay in front on this over the long haul and be successful,” Casey said. “We're viewed by the people ... as an occupation force.”.

In his overview, Casey reiterated what has become the military's consensus view: the insurgency is largely a home-grown rebellion fueled by resentment among Iraq's Sunni Muslim Arab minority. Saddam Hussein loyalists, the general said, are seeking to revive “Sunni dominance” in Iraq.

Foreign fighters in Iraq, Casey said, likely number no more than 1,000. He also rejected the oft-repeated suggestion that suicide attackers were exclusively foreign fighters from other Arab and Muslim lands.

“There's kind of an axiom out there that says Iraqis aren't suicide bombers,” Casey said. “I believe there are Iraqi Islamic extremists [who] are very capable of getting into cars and blowing themselves up.”.

And from Breaking News. More Iraqi civilians may have been killed by coalition forces and their allies than by insurgents, according to Iraqi government figures.

The figures, which have been compiled by Iraq’s Ministry of Health, will be disclosed on the BBC’s Panorama programme tomorrow. They show coalition troops and Iraqi security forces were responsible for 60% of Iraqi civilian deaths in conflict-related violence in a six month period.

The data comes from conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries recorded by Iraqi public hospitals. It does not include the deaths of insurgents where they are known.

The BBC says that in an interview the US ambassador John Negroponte, prior to the release of the figures, said he believed the largest amount of civilian casualties were due to car bombings. Mr Negroponte said in the interview:

“My impression is that the largest amount of civilian casualties definitely is a result of these indiscriminate car bombings.” ... “You yourself are aware of those as they occur in the Baghdad area and more frequently than not the largest number of victims of these acts of terror are innocent civilian bystanders.”.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it would not make any comment on another international government’s statement.

3 Comments:

We'll see what happens, but my impression at this stage is that if there ever was one grand farce of an election in the history of elections worldwide, we are going to witness it in 2 days. 

Posted by WhyNot
1/29/2005 07:24:00 pm  
The interesting thing there is that they are counting all civilian deaths related to the war as part of the casualty count and not differentiating between deaths caused by coalition troops and those caused by terrorist/insurgent activity. From their perspective anyone who dies from violence in Iraq gets blamed on the coalition. But if you look at their actual database of the 3000 fully documented civilian deaths you discover that the overwhelming majority of the deaths they are counting were caused by terrorist/insurgent attacks and assassinations, not by coalition forces. They don't make it entirely clear, but when they attribute gunfire as the cause and Iraqi police as the victims, you can bet it's not the US or the UK shooting them. In actuality less than 500 of the 3000 fully documented deaths can be clearly attributed to the actions of coalition forces. 

Posted by Anonymous
2/06/2005 08:39:00 pm  
To Anonymous:

1. I don't understand the point you're making. Even if your figures were correct, are you saying that collateral damages amounting to 3000 civilians is quite ok, whereas if it was significantly higher then it would be a problem? Can we then assume the Al Quaeda war against the US which resulted in 3000 dead New Yorkers is acceptable collateral damage? Or are 3,000 US dead civilians a tradgedy but 3,000 Iraqi ones a mere inconvenience?

2. I don't know where you get your figures from, and I'd be curious to see the source. I'f you'd be kind and courageous enough to provide them, it'd be nice. Speaking of courage, you might also consider signing your identity instead of just "anonymous". It looks kind of cowardly and doesn't lend other readers to give what you say any credibility.

3. If you're interested in actually checking out reliable figures, check this site out:
Iraq Body CountYou'll find that so far, without even trying to project for the huge number of ppl that are not found, or not identifiable, there is already a 17,000 confirmed dead civilian Iraqis directly imputable to the coalition forces. 

Posted by WhyNot
2/06/2005 09:40:00 pm  

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