Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Brief Iraq Update

Maverick that I am, I've decided to bring you all an update on a war that nobody else is really updating for you: Iraq.

It'll be just a brief overview: I've got a lot to do for work. And I'll tell you more about work later (it is very awesome).

Anyway, there's not a whole lot to tell that isn't relatively obvious by the lack of news in the country. Deaths continue a relatively steady (but slow) decline. In December, Coalition deaths totaled 17, the third-lowest month yet (the lowest being 13 deaths). Deaths of Iraqis (related to the war) were 320, higher only than August and November of 2008 (311 and 317, respectively). This month is looking to be the most peaceful yet, with only 2 Coalition deaths do date, and 119 civilian deaths, though a number of events may attract terror attacks. A whopping four provinces are scheduled to be handed over in the next 2 weeks, as detailed in a map that I have modified below:

Iraqi Government Provincial Control, Updated for Jan 2009 (US DoD)

If these handovers go smoothly (which, to be honest, they do most of the time), then deaths should stay down. Provincial elections are on January 31st for all but four provinces, and these are likely to be the target of attacks (though solid security may make this an opportunity to capture militants). After the handover, the Iraqis are in charge everywhere but Baghdad, and US deaths will drop by even more. US costs should drop, too (particularly given incoming president Obama's political need to balance some sliver of spending discipline and bailing-out--he will not be spendthrift on this war).

Iraq's Kurd problem remains, but is resolvable--especially once the last four provinces hold their elections. The more the US can put its power into negotiating between Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, the more likely it is that an agreement can be forged.

Anyway, that's really it. In short, things are mopping up nicely in Iraq, for the moment, and they show no particular signs of falling apart.
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