Civilian Deaths Decline in Iraq

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A study of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2010.

A new report from Iraq Body Count notes that 3,976 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2010, down from 4,680 the year before. The study's authors note that the 2010 toll "showed the smallest year-on-year reduction (proportionally as well as in absolute terms) since violence levels began to reduce from late 2007 onwards: 2008 reduced deaths by 63% on 2007, 2009 by 50% on 2008, but 2010 only improved by 15% on 2009."

The U.S. role in Iraqi civilian death is low, according to the study. There were 32 reported Iraqi civilian deaths by U.S.-led coalition forces in 2010, down from 64 in 2009. Insurgents and al-Qaeda in Iraq, collectively dubbed 'anti-occupation forces' by the study's authors, were responsible for the majority of the carnage.

Since the war began, Iraq Body Count estimates that 151,971 Iraqis have been killed, including civilians, Iraqi soldiers and insurgents.

While the reduction in civilian deaths is welcome, there was a statistic that jumped out at me:

2010 averaged nearly two explosions a day by non-state forces that caused civilian deaths (675 explosions killing 2,605).

Many well-established democracies have endured prolonged bouts of terrorism and bombing (Britain comes to mind), but Iraq has no recent democratic pedigree and no strong democratic institutions to speak of. The Middle East is replete with states with powerful internal security apparatuses - and Iraq, if only out of sheer necessity - will need strong internal security services to govern. That does not speak well for the country's democratic prospects.

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