Over 111,000 Iraqis killed since 2003
United States officials believed the former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, to have posed an obvious threat to the Iraqi people, pointing to Iraq’s war against Iran in the 1980s, the Gulf War in the 1990s, the mass killing of civilians and the strangling of rival Baath rivals.
The Kurds, who suffered severe oppression during the Saddam Hussein period, have enjoyed a good security situation in their homeland since 2003. In the decade since U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq, the Kurds have trained their sights on Turkey and the West at the expense of ties with the still largely dysfunctional remainder of the country.
Aided by an oil-fueled economic boom, the Kurds have consolidated their autonomy, increased their leverage with the central government in Baghdad, and are currently pursuing an independent foreign policy which is often at odds with that of Iraq.
A study in The Lancet, a specialist medical journal, lays bare the price of the Anglo-American invasion and its aftermath.
From the very first air strikes on March 19, 2003, Iraqi civilians began to die.
More than 111,000 Iraqis have been killed since 2003, according to the tracking group Iraq Body Count; most of these deaths occurred in 2006-2007, the worst period of sectarian violence in the last 10 years. Security improved in subsequent years - from nearly 30,000 civilian deaths in 2006 to fewer than 10,000 in 2008, and fewer than 5,000 in 2009. Casualties stabilized in the years that following at around 4,000 civilian deaths per year.
In 2011, nearly threequarters of the population perceived themselves to be secure or very secure, according to a survey conducted by the Iraq Knowledge Network.
However, civilian deaths increased by about 10 percent in 2012 following the withdrawal of American forces. Established insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda have been regaining strength, and new ones like the Free Iraqi Army have emerged. Moreover, Anbar Province, the epicenter of the Sunni insurgency in 2007-2009, is restive once more.
Power was concentrated in the hands of Sunni partisans under Hussein, and his fall brought with it new opportunities to the long-marginalized Shia majority. However, as Shiites have risen to power, sectarianism has become a major feature of Iraqi politics.
This is due, in part, to the decades of repressive policies under Hussein, although analysts also point a finger at US policies which have created a political system based on the re-partition of power among three main groups: the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. The US has also sought to purge the government of members of Hussein’s Baath party, which many Sunnis view as a move to alienate them.
“When he was most vulnerable, Saddam Hussein used sectarianism and nationalism as weapons against his internal enemies,” the Civil-Military Fusion Centre (CFC) wrote in a recent briefing on the risk of a renewed breakout of large-scale violence. “Today’s Iraqi Shiite parties and government appear to be doing far worse, as governmental rule is justified on a sectarian basis.”
This sectarianism has inspired many of the suicide bombings, kidnappings and terrorist attacks that have affected civilians over the past 10 years. According to the CFC: “There is a legitimate, growing fear of civil conflict due to unaddressed grievances in Anbar and other Sunni-majority provinces.”
This photo show a site of a car bomb attack near the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad.