On Tuesday, Islamic militants seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s victory in Mosul marks a milestone in Iraq’s accelerating descent into chaos since the departure of U.S. military forces nearly three years ago.
Whether the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq would have prevented the resurgence of violence is far from certain, but one thing isn’t up for debate: Under the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the country has seen a remarkable lack of progress on a variety of economic and security indicators. In many, it’s actually taken several steps back. The case against Maliki is laid out in a report by Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman, who has been writing about Iraq since U.S. forces swept into the country in 2003, points out that by several key metrics, the Iraq of today looks worse than it did under Saddam Hussein.
Here, then, in eight charts, is the story of Iraq’s unraveling.
Iraq’s monthly body count, as seen in the last graph of the triptych, is approaching levels seen during the civil war that marred the American occupation of Iraq:
Meanwhile, Iraq continues to lead the global tables on terrorist attacks, both in terms of the total number of attacks and casualties. Moreover, ten plus years of civil strife has left Iraq with a particularly deadly terrorist problem: The average lethality of a terrorist attack in Iraq is 40 percent higher than the global average.
And as violence has continued to roil Iraq, the country has struggled to improve its governance rankings. Incredibly, according to World Bank figures, rule of law was better in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein than during Maliki’s years in power:
While Iraq had been making gains on human development indicators, those gains have mostly flatlined:
And Iraq continues to lag relative to its peers:
So it’s perhaps no surprise that corruption remains a huge problem in Iraq, leaving it on par with Yemen and Libya:
Consequently, Iraq lags behind its peers on ease of doing business rankings:
Add all these things together and what do you get? Despite their country’s massive oil wealth, Iraqis remain relatively poor:
You’re also left with another grim conclusion. Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew from a country purportedly on the upswing, is in many ways worse off than ever before.
FP’s Situation Report: Support for Maliki crumbles; Pentagon sends 130 more troops into Iraq; Building a coalition of the willing; Is Putin’s convoy a Trojan Horse?; Williams was a true friend to the troops; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |