Iraq: Political stalemate and violence. Any connection?

And President Barack Obama said US combat mission in Iraq will end this month as promised.

Question:

Would you say there is a link between the fact that according to Iraqi government was July the country’s deadliest month since May 2008 (although US military has own figures) and the fact that five months after the election are Iraqi political leaders still deadlocked over forming a new government?

Answers:

Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

It is a good and tough and important question.

It is hard to answer as well.  My instinct is not to draw too many conclusions from one month’s data, as overall trends have remained favorable, and also one or two big incidents can skew short-term data trends.  That said, it is always prudent to worry!, and it is possible that the political impasse is contributing to a downward trend–all the more reason to try to end it.

Joost Hiltermann, Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, International Crisis Group

I have never made any link between certain limited statistics on violence and political development, and certainly won’t do so in this case. Violence tends to go up and down. Individual attacks may be more successful (more casualties) one month than another. A more useful indicator would be the number of attacks, not the number of victims.

In any case, I don’t trust casualty statistics, or any statistics, coming out of Iraq, given the government’s lack of capacity to gather reliable data and also the politicization of such data.

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