US reports 20 percent drop in Iraq violence
US military commanders in Baghdad today said that Iraqi forces are making security gains as the US prepares to withdraw all its troops by year's end.
US military commanders in Iraq on Tuesday praised the lowest levels of violence in Iraq since 2003, saying that Iraqi forces were making security gains while American forces prepare for final departure at the end of the year.Skip to next paragraph
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Overall security incidents fell by one-fifth, despite a host of security incidents in recent months that have plagued Iraqi Christians, the assassinations of dozens of officials, and spectacular Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) attacks such as the 16-bomb day in November that left 70 dead in Baghdad.
“There are many indicators of violence: attack trends [and] casualty trends, but certainly by all measures we believe there was about a 20 percent decrease in 2010 from 2009,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the deputy commander of US forces in Iraq, as he handed authority on Tuesday to the last general likely to hold that post, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick. “That’s not to say we are happy with the security environment, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.”
Whatever the US tabulation, many Iraqis are not yet convinced that security has improved, after eight years of violence that peaked in 2006-2007 with a death toll of 3,000 each month. Since then, according to official US figures, the overall rate of violence today has dropped by 90 percent, but Iraqis still face deadly disruptions to their daily lives – and blame the government for lack of accountability.
“It is clear, and it needs no analysis, that the security situation is out of control,” wrote Salam al-Yasiri, in a comment on the well-known Kitabat website. “Despite big funds that have been thrown in this direction … explosions are still continuous, innocent victims are still falling, and government statements haven’t changed – they are still pointing the finger of blame at Al Qaeda [in Iraq] or the orphans of the Baath [Party], without once admitting the possibility of failure.”
Iraqis taking greater role
Lt. Gen. Cone, however, credited Iraqis for taking a greater role in controlling the security situation. The drop in violence, he pointed out, took place despite a steep cut in American troop strength during the year from 100,000 to less than 50,000 in Iraq today, and despite an Iraqi election last March that resulted in nine months of political wrangling before a government was formed.