What Iraq and how many victims ten years after Saddam

October has ended claiming over 1000 lives (1095) in suicide bombings, explosions and shootings. The macabre November toll has already reached 89. October 5 was the bloodiest day, as according to the organization Iraq Body Count (IBC), 100 civilians died, 55 in Baghdad alone. On 23 and 27 October casualties were 74 for each day.

IBC calculated 122,438 civilian documented deaths from 2003 until today (only 8,647 have been identified so far). Last month, the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) published the findings of a research carried out by a group of seven researchers, from the US, Canada and Iraq. The objective of the study was to determine the number of civilians who lost their lives in Iraq due to direct and indirect causes related to the war waged on 19 March 2003.

The study was conducted on 2,000 households randomly selected across Iraq ensuring a diverse representation though. According to the estimates which collected the widest consensus amongst researchers, the bombing started in March 2003 represents just 10 % of excess deaths, while 63 % of deaths is caused by gunfire and 11% from ordinary crime. “Excess deaths” means excess in contrast with the country under Saddam Hussein.

Interestingly, around 40% of excess death is related to the collapse of infrastructure, which is essentially the meltdown of the health system, communications system and transport. The inability to transport the sick and wounded to the hospital, the damage to the hospitals and the difficulties to contact a doctor are indeed common key factors in a war scenario. The authors conclude that approximately 461,000 Iraqis have lost their lives due to causes linked to the war and say that they could be many more, because how many people live or have lived in Iraq for the past 15 years is unknown.

Doing Business project ranks Iraq (32 million inhabitants) 169 out of 189 countries on the basis of  the ease of investing and starting a business. Syria, with 23 million inhabitants and two years of civil war, is 135. The BBC website published a chronology reporting the main events that have affected the battered Gulf country since 1534 when the territory was part of the Ottoman Empire. The war of 2003 is hereby stated: “the invasion of a US-led coalition marks the beginning of years of guerrilla warfare and instability”.

What is Tony Blair saying of all this? In February, in the TV programme Newsnight he said that in Iraq, “there have been significant improvements, but it is nowhere near the country that it should be”. On October 7, in an interview with the Times of India Blair said that “Gandhi's doctrine of nonviolence is passé and it is not applicable in every context”.

Matteo Angioli
Marco Perduca