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The Collective
Monday, July 30, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Third of Iraqis ‘need urgent aid’

Nearly a third of the population of Iraq is in need of immediate emergency aid, according to a new report from Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi NGOs.

The report said the government was failing to provide basics such as food and shelter for eight million people.


It suggests that 70% of Iraq’s 26.5m population are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% prior to the invasion. Only 20% have access to effective sanitation.

Nearly 30% of children are malnourished, a sharp increase on the situation four years ago. Some 15% of Iraqis regularly cannot afford to eat.

The report also said 92% of Iraq’s children suffered from learning problems.

It found that more than two million people have been displaced inside the country, while a further two million have fled to neighbouring countries. Many are living in dire poverty.

Coupled with the report I noted yesterday on the state of the rebuilding effort, the overall picture for Iraq is not especially rosy, even if there have been improvements in the security situation (see today’s NYT: .A War We Just Might Win).

However, it would seem to me that a lot of boosters of The Surge and Petraeus are trying to switch the conditions of the debate by focusing solely on the security situation in specific areas. That things have improved in some areas is good news, but to focus solely on that as it is the answer to the Gordian Knot that is Iraq is to ignore other very grave problems. Further, the purpose of the invasion was not to make sure that Anbar was pacified, the object of the invasion was, amongst a list of things, to establish a viable state in Iraq.

Along these lines, Joe Klein, blogging at Swampland, gets it right:

you really can’t write a piece about the wae [sic.] in Iraq and devote only two sentences to the political situation, which is disastrous and, as Petraeus has said, will determine the success or failure of the overall effort.

It is an utter re-definition of the problem to ignore the problems of state construction, yet it appears that the remaining boosters of the war are doing just that (the administration included).

See, also, this CSM piece (via Sully): Iraqi government in deepest crisis

“We are frankly in the midst of the worst crisis,” says Fakhri Karim, a close adviser to Messrs. Barzani and Talabani who also publishes the independent Al Mada newspaper. He says he doubts the Friday meeting will find any resolution because of the new political tussle with the Iraqi Accordance Front.

“Most of the political blocs have failed to operate within the framework of national consensus. They can’t even properly formulate their positions and proposals, let alone realize the very serious dangers that surround everyone.”

The gravity of the situation was underscored by several officials. “We have a governmental crisis. Our people expect better performance,” said Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Sphere: Related Content

Filed under: Iraq | |


  1. You forgot to mention the 2 million or so refugees of Bush’s War who are currently in camps in Syria and Jordan and the over 1 million Iraqis who are internally displaced.

    Comment by Ratoe — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  2. It is in the last paragraph quoted from the BBC-and they cite 2 million internal and 2 million abroad.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  3. Sorry! I can’t read numbers when they are spelled out!

    Comment by Ratoe — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  4. It is rather easy to overlook things (at least it is for me).

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  5. You are far more cogent here than in our e-mails. I am, accordingly, linking again.
    Very well said.
    That said, our post-war situation (1780s) was disastrous, as far as the funcitoning of the central government, and Oxfam listed the folks of Baquba, generally a pudgy lot, as lacking adequte food supplies. Never underestimate the potency of a generatioons old black market.
    I find it hard to believe that with the Southern Marshes drained and Kurdistan in constant war with the towns depopulated and 1/3 of the country as internal or international refugees during the Baath, that only 20% of Iraq lacked access to adequate water supplies.
    Instead I point to the difficultiues of gathering good information in totalitarian societies versus relatively easy access (and an incentive to over-report suffering in order to get relief - not that I find much wrong with that, if Germans are willing to pay, let ‘em pay) now.

    Comment by Honza P — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

  6. […] UPDATE II: More Dr. Taylor, making his point far clearly than in the above link, can be read here. His gloomy analysis is well worth the read. My response is in the comments, in case anyone cares. So are those of people talking of teeh suffering caused by ”Bush’s war” (which was, naturally, different from the greater suffering it replaced) and which, from the vehemence of thier spleen, I suspect they supported back in the day. Dr. Talyor also links to a NYT article cal;led “A War We Can Win”. […]

    Pingback by Pros and Cons » GWOT Update, Updated, Twice — Monday, July 30, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  7. Mission Accomplished

    Il mondo � tornato ad essere un posto normale. Ricordate, qualche settimana fa, l’editoriale del New York Times (la password per leggerlo cercatela qui) che invocava il ritiro statunitense dall’Iraq? Il giorno dopo, giornali e telegiornali italiani a…

    Trackback by The Right Nation — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  8. It’s only fair to ask if some of the refugees who have fled to other countries might not have done so prior to the war (simply to escape the vices of the Hussein regime and the Baath party) if they had the ability.

    While I am not a booster of the “surge”, per se, I am a supporter of General Petraeus. I served under him and know him to be a brilliant man. He’s doing the best he can with a bad situation.

    For those who wish to call it “Bush’s war”, it’s only fair to remember that Congress did in fact authorize the war. If we want to throw blame there is plenty to pass around, and while the president may get a triple helping, there are plenty of others who have earned a share.

    Comment by Captain D. — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

  9. […] He also reports on some of the problems Professor Taylor (non-insanely) worries about so: Because the one thing that definitely can run us out of here is the civil war, it follows that disrupting al Qaeda is like taking the blowtorch off the curtains. And for the beleaguered people of Baqubah, something nearly every family could see instantly as a positive sign would be the renewal of regular food distribution. There are many other shortages and problems for military and civilian leaders to sort through, but a food shortage is something that could be immediately ameliorated. Iraq is a breadbasket: there’s plenty of food here, it only takes trucks to move it around. […]

    Pingback by Pros and Cons » The latest from Iraq, with some reportage from Afghanistan/Pakistan — Tuesday, July 31, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  10. […] administration has never had, it is impossible to make appropriate policy choices going forward. Sphere: Related Content Filed under: Iraq || […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Trouble in Basra — Tuesday, August 7, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

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