Over 111,000 Iraqis killed since 2003

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Sec­tar­i­an­ism in­creas­ing

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.

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