I just finished chatting with Omar, my friend and translator who lives in the Mansur area of Baghdad.
I’m worried that, with all the exaggerations about civil war and violence, we are forgetting to remember the on-the-ground reality in Iraq.
Omar tells me he’s glad the gunfire and violence hasn’t been near his area in the Mansur neighborhood lately, but he hears it constantly, and, like all Iraqis, just waits for it to come knocking.
According to the figures at Icasualties.org, this month hasn’t been all that different from previous months.
With two days left in the month of February, the deaths of Iraqi security forces are still lower than last month, and the deaths of civilians are only a few higher. Although the last two months have been distinctly higher than December, civilian deaths have ranged between 400 and 700 on average since May of last year.
Only in August was there a drastic increase in civilian deaths, and the deaths of security forces were all higher than this month during the same period.
Granted, Icasualties’ numbers may not be fully caught up for this month, but when measured as an overall trend, the situation looks a little different than the media’s recent civil war hysterics let on.
Icasualties’ numbers also only tally violent/war-related deaths. There is little accounting of the collateral damage due to the widespread devastation of Iraqs social services and health infrastructure.
Omar only has about 5 hours of electricty per day right now in Baghdad, and as I said previously, there is virtually no access to clean water.
Although these aren’t sexy and gruesome killers, they’re certainly contributing to the ongoing deaths of civilians, and as the summer approaches, and the weather starts heating up in Baghdad, we can only expect these kinds of deaths to continue.
Today it was around 80 degrees in Baghdad, and its still February.
It leads me to wonder whether the western and mainstream press will continue to cover Iraq if the “sectarian” tensions die down, and the largest killers become US airstrikes, heat exhaustion, and dysyntery