Iraq: Where Things Stand

Statistics:

Iraqi Police killed: At least 6,208 (since war began) Iraqi civilians killed: (Estimates range widely) Brookings Index: between 53,000-59,000 Iraq Body Count: between 58,000-64,500 United Nations: 72,347 (through December 2006) Percentage of Iraqis who say someone in their own household has been harmed by current violence: 17

Iraqi journalists killed: 93 (168, including journalists' drivers and interpreters, as well as nonhostile but war-related deaths) Iraqis kidnapped: 30-40 per day (as of March 2006) Attacks on Iraqi oil and gas pipelines, installations and personnel: 391 Internally displaced people in Iraq (Note - these numbers are cumulative): 2003: 100,000 2004: 200,000 2005: 250,000 2006: 650,000 Percent of Iraqi professional class to leave the country since 2003 (as of June 2006): 40 percent Estimated number of Iraqis who have fled the country: 2,000,000 Percentage of Iraqis who say they would leave the country if they could: 30 Strength of insurgency nationwide (Estimate): November 2003: 5,000 January 2005: 18,000 October 2005: 15,000 - 20,000 October 2006: 20,000 - 30,000 Total Iraqi Forces (Police, National Guard, Iraqi Armed Forces and Border Patrol): December 2003: 99,600 Current: 328,700

Electricity and Fuel

North: worse Central: worse South: worse

From the first of the "Where Things Stand" reports, electricity has regularly ranked high on the list of most important quality-of-life indicators. In 2004, several Iraqis asked our reporters a basic question: How is it that the United States -- wealthiest nation in the world -- cannot repair our power grids?

Today, despite enormous efforts and expenditures -- the United States has invested roughly $320 million in oil and electricity infrastructure as of October 2006 -- satisfaction in this area ranks lowest among the indicators. After some initial progress between 2003 and 2006, many Iraqis have actually seen power supplies decline in the last year and a half. According to the United Nations, "The electricity sector in Iraq is in a dire state." And as Gary Langer notes, "While violence is devastating, it's sporadic; the lack of fuel and power are a lower-level discomfort, but a daily one." Today 88 percent of Iraqis say their power supply is inadequate or nonexistent; the corresponding number was 54 percent in late 2005.

The trouble is particularly acute in central Iraq. Baghdad receives considerably less power than the rest of the country, and less than it did before the U.S. invasion. As we reported last year, before the war Saddam Hussein saw to it that Baghdad residents enjoyed an almost constant supply of electricity, often by siphoning electricity from other parts of the country. Now that pattern has been reversed; beyond Baghdad, the numbers are better than prewar -- roughly 12 hours of power on average per day.

In one way, electricity presents a "good news, bad news" snapshot of the country: demand for electricity continues to rise with the proliferation of new appliances (good news -- this is illustrative of a growing economy). The bad news: The system has not kept pace, and in Baghdad it has suffered repeated setbacks. Feeder lines to electrical grids have been sabotaged. The price for substitutes -- power generators and ice, for example -- have skyrocketed.

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