What a coincidence

30 Days, 2,368 Attacks

ACE points out this great map noting the locations of insurgent attacks over the past month. It’s not clear from the map whether this includes all attacks, only attacks against Coalition forces, or only attacks against US forces. (A seperate story in the NYT writes

Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq

so I’m taking it to mean all attacks against all targets.)

The separate story also writes that the attacks occurred

in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north

and that this

suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials.

Uh, is this guy looking at the same map I am?

Take a glance at the map. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Come back when you’re done.

It’s blindingly obvious that the attacks are concentrated in a few major population centers, which is to be expected. But it’s also blindingly obvious that the population centers most affected are those in Sunni-dominated areas.

This is also to be expected, since the Sunnis are on the verge of losing their predominance over the majority Shiites. Saddam’s dead-ender Baathists are Sunnis. The individuals, families, and groups that fared well under Saddam (at the expense of nearly everyone else in the country) were Sunnis. So it only makes sense that the overwhelming majority of insurgent activity is taking place in those areas where insurgents and terrorists will get support, aid, and shelter from the locals. The homegrown attackers will mostly come from the discontented Sunni populace, and the foreign fighters will find the most friendly faces among those that are most strongly opposed to democracy in Iraq.

Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, has only seen a handful of attacks. Najaf, Kut, and Nasiriya have been pretty peaceful. Remember all the worry about a “general uprising” last month? And in April? Didn’t happen. Since the most recent deal with Darth Sadr, the Shia south has been pretty quiet. Remember the resistance that the Fedayeen gave the Marines in Nasiriya during the invasion? The place seems mostly quiet now.

A major angle in the story is that elections are jeopardized because the attacks are “widespread”. They make a fair amount of noise over the fact

There was not a single province without an attack in the 30-day period

but take a look at the graphic from the map, enlarged at the right.

It shows that 1,937 of the attacks occurred in 4 provinces. That’s over 80% of the attacks happening in 22% of the country. 10 provinces suffered less than 20 attacks each. While definitely troubling, I’d hesitate to think that these attacks are going to postpone the elections. Remember all the attacks in June, and how they were going to postpone the handover of power?

If some places are too volatile to vote, then don’t vote there. Fallujah, for instance, probably won’t see any polling stations. Remember that this is a first go. Everything doesn’t have to be 100% perfect. It’s a starting point.

There will likely be violence in Iraq for years. Or decades. But if we, and the Iraqi government, stick to the plan, victory (and the peace that victory brings) will come.


  1. I heard this last night on ‘All Things Considered’ (NPR). Certainly without the graphic things sound ‘bad’. With the graphic you see a different picture. Yep, it’s all in the spin, alas. The reality is (I think) a lot calmer than the negative spinners are spinning, but that’s the message that the media is playing (bad news sells, after all!).