Monday, March 22, 2010

Checking in on Iraqi Stability

In the run-up to the Iraqi election, there were are a lot of reports of violence in Iraq.  This morning, I went over the latest Brooking's Iraq Index, to see if there was much of a sign of statistically material deterioration.  I only report here on indices were there are data at least through February.  (The reason for my interest is because I am tracking the chances of success of the al-Shahristani plan for development of Iraq's oil sector, and the greatest risk to it is probably a breakdown in the stability of the country).

Here are overall attacks on coalition forces and the Iraqi government and infrastructure sectors through the week of 2/26/10:

There does appear to be a slightly increasing pattern of attacks since fall of 2009, however, it does not look very serious at this point.

Iraqi military and police killed includes data through March 10th:

There is no sign of worsening in this indicator.

Next is multiple fatality bombings, and then number of killed and wounded in multiple fatality bombings (both with data through March 10th):

The pattern here appears to be that there was a material increase in bombings in the second half of 2009, which largely subsided again in 2010.

US troop fatalities through March 10th, 2010:

The level of US fatalities is now extremely low.  Presumably this reflects both the generally improved security situation in the country, and that fact that US troops have increasingly been withdrawn from the cities, and indeed from the country.

Finally, this last graph shows the ongoing drawdown in US and other foreign troops in the country (through February 2010):

The drawdown began under Bush of course, but it does seem to have accelerated under Obama.

Of course, future stability may be heavily influenced by the results of the election. The situation at the moment is that the Allawi coalition looks to be slightly ahead of the Maliki coalition (with 95% of votes counted), and Maliki is calling for a recount:
Iraq's election commission has dismissed calls from Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, for all of the votes in the March 7 parliamentary election to be recounted by hand.

Faraj al-Haidari, the Independent High Electoral Commission [IHEC] chief, said on Sunday that for a full manual recount to take place, there would have to be evidence of serious electoral fraud, and none had been provided.

"They are asking for a manual recount, that is like asking for a re-run of the entire election. If they don't accept that we are running the best election software in the world then how are they going to believe in pen and paper," he said.

"If they have doubts and think that there are errors, they can ask us to hold recounts at particular centres, but not across all of Iraq."

A statement from al-Maliki's office earlier on Sunday called for the recount to "preserve political stability and to avoid a deterioration of security and a return of violence which was quelled after much effort and loss of blood".

"March 7 was a big step for democracy in Iraq," the statement said.

"But many political entities are now demanding a recount by hand. This is to protect democracy and to preserve the legitimacy of the electoral process."

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