Quantifying Progress in Baghdad

Iraqi officials today released data on violence in Baghdad since the “surge” began a month ago:

In an upbeat assessment of the first 30 days of the security plan, Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier Qassim Moussawi said the number of Iraqis killed by violence in Baghdad since February 14 was 265, down from 1,440 killed in the previous month.
The number of car bombings, a favorite weapon used by suspected Sunni Arab militants fighting the Shi’ite-led government, was down to 36 from 56, Moussawi told reporters.

That’s more than an 80% reduction in fatalities in Baghdad, obviously a good start for the new strategy. The Iraqi official said that violence had increased in areas outside of Baghdad, presumably because terrorists had left the city. No numbers were given for the increase in areas outside the capital.
It’s obviously relevant to know the extent to which increased violence outside Baghdad has offset improvements within the city, but pacifying Baghdad, a task many considered close to impossible, is important in and of itself. Violence outside Baghdad over the last couple of years has actually been lower than most people realize; it was the violence in the capital that caused many to fear that the Iraqi government couldn’t function. If Baghdad can be secured, the Iraqi government should have time to continue addressing the terrorist threat in other areas of the country.
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