Death Toll Rises in Iraq

The Obama policy in Iraq is yielding results.

Violence is on the rise in Iraq as American troops withdraw. A ground-level look at the handover provides one explanation: The Iraqi government is neglecting many of the successful counterinsurgency initiatives it is inheriting from the U.S. military. . . . .

With Iraq's oil selling for about $40 a barrel, Iraqi finance officials have slashed this year's budget from $80 billion to less than $60 billion. They project a $30 billion deficit. U.S. aid, which still pays for a sizeable chunk of Iraq's security forces, is also decreasing. . . . . .

The budget woes come as American withdrawal plans kick into high gear. U.S. commanders are required to pull out entirely from Iraqi cities by June 30, though some will stay in Baghdad and Mosul with Iraqi permission.

Meanwhile, violence is increasing. In January, 275 civilians died, followed by 343 in February, 408 in March and 485 in April, according to Iraq Body Count, an independent group that tracks civilian casualties via media reports.

Fatalities are still down sharply from May 2006 to August 2007, when between 2,000 and 3,000 civilians died each month. U.S. and Iraqi officials are encouraged that recent attacks haven't been followed by sectarian reprisals, as they often were in the past. . . . . .

Brookings claims that the number of civilian deaths has been flat this year. Yet, given their past problems with these types of numbers, I am dubious.



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