the Disillusioned kid: Stop, You're Killing Me!
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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Stop, You're Killing Me!

This is hardly news anymore, but nonetheless I think it's important enough that it merits posting on. (I'm also indebted to Jonathan Steele's article in today's Guardian for reminding me about it and providing a source for the original report.)

In late-September, American news organisation Knight Ridder obtained statistics compiled by the Iraqi Ministry of Health showing that "[o]perations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents". Unsurprisingly this fact was hardly trumpeted by London or Washington and many people may have missed it.

Knight Ridder reported
According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi deaths in 15 of the country's 18 provinces from April 5 - when the ministry began compiling the data - until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,726 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said.

While most of the dead are believed to be civilians, the data include an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen. Many Iraqi deaths, especially of insurgents, are never reported, so the actual number of Iraqis killed in fighting could be significantly higher.

During the same period, 432 American soldiers were killed.
Note the massive discrepancy between American deaths, which are also scrupulously recorded, and those of Iraqis.

The most important part of the report comes later:
Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused by multinational forces and police; the remaining third died from insurgent attacks. The ministry began separating attacks by multinational and police forces and insurgents June 10.

From that date until Sept. 10, 1,295 Iraqis were killed in clashes with multinational forces and police versus 516 killed in terrorist operations, the ministry said. The ministry defined terrorist operations as explosive devices in residential areas, car bombs or assassinations.
Ministry officials believe that the vast majority of the deaths reported are of civilians, not insurgents. Dr. Shihab Ahmed Jassim, a member of the ministry's operations section, pointed out that family members are unlikely to report the killing of a relative if they died fighting for rebels and they would almost certainly be buried immediately.

This report demolishes the illusion promulgated by the dominant media in the west that the vast majority of violence in Iraq is caused by insurgents and that we are merely there to try and restore order. The reality is much murkier.

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