Friday, July 06, 2007

Iraq Progress Update

Via the BBC:

The build-up of US troops in Iraq is now complete. The level of violence has not decreased, with attacks shifting away from places where US forces are concentrated, such as Baghdad and Anbar, into other, less defended provinces, says the BBC's Defence and Security correspondent Rob Watson.

During the seven-day period ending on 4 July, there were 617 violent deaths compared to 299 for the week before. As in the previous two weeks, most of those killed were civilians - 365 of them. There was also a big increase in the reported deaths of insurgents, up from 98 dead last week to 175.

These figures are from the Iraqi Interior Ministry, whose figures are consistently lower than anyone else's estimates of casualties.

The US military suffered 19 dead, bringing the total US toll to 3,586. More than 5,800 Iraqi police and recruits have been killed in the same period since 2005 - including 65 this week, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which quotes Pentagon figures.

As everyday life goes on despite the violence, Iraqi civilians have to contend with other difficulties - from long power cuts and lack of jobs to fuel queues.

The families helping paint a picture of these hardships in this survey are from different areas of the city - which can mean different pressures according to the religious make-up of the area and the subsequent security risks.

Family 1 is located in Palestine street, a Shia neighbourhood in the east of the capital.

Family 2 is located in Zayouna, a mixed neighbourhood in south-east Baghdad.

Family 3 lives in Saba Abkar, a northern Sunni neighbourhood.

The life indicators have remained largely unchanged over the past three weeks. If anything, they report petrol being even more expensive than last week and they are getting less electricity from the grid - for two of the families less than an hour on average per day.

Some Iraqis are able to supplement their electricity supply with power from privately run generators, but this is expensive.

Fuel queues can last anything for up to nine hours, but the black market price for 20 litres of fuel is 25,000 Iraqi dinars (US $20), almost two and half times that at petrol stations.

Gas cylinders are also 25,000 Iraqi dinars on the black market. They cost 4,000 dinars (US $3.20) at petrol stations.

Food shortages are also a problem in some quarters - people said they had difficulty buying food in al-Fadhil this week because the neighbourhood was shut down by the national guards after fighting broke out between locals and the Mehdi army militia.

One of the hospitals covered by the survey provides some grim details about the death toll.

Al-Yarmouk received 10 limbs with the rest of the bodies missing, 22 victims who had been beheaded, 45 people killed by one car bomb alone in the al-Baaya district and the bodies of 13 people who had been shot in the head.

Al-Yarmouk has between 35 and 40 doctors, 60 to 65 medical assistants, and six doctors in the Emergency Unit, which is open 24 hours a day.

Al-Kindi hospital has 14 consultants, and four doctors for the Emergency Unit.

There is no progress in Iraq, despite what Holy Joe Lieberman, St. John McCain, or Huckleberry Graham say in the news media.

With Repubs fasting jumping from the sinking ship (Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici being the latest to say publicly that the surge is NOT working), it is becoming increasingly clear that soon only Lieberman, McCain and Graham will be left backing Bush's Iraq war policy.

Unfortunately for the country, many of the Repubs turning from the preznut's policy still do not have the guts to back a policy that will truly end the war.

And so it goes.

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