Thursday, May 08, 2008

Iraq: A Price for Maliki's War on Shiite Militias

Here is our latest monthly highly abbreviated version of the Iraq Index, published and updated twice a week by Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution:

Americans Killed in Action, Iraq (monthly average)
2003: 32
2004: 59
2005: 56
2006: 58
2007: 63
2008: 34
April: 49

Americans Killed in Action, Vietnam (monthly average)
1965: 128*
1966: 420
1967: 767
1968: 1140
1969: 785
1970: 413
* = First U.S. combat troops arrived in Vietnam, 5.3.65
Vietnam table compiled by Galen Fox using Defense Department sources.

Crude Oil Production (m. bbls./day)

Prewar Peak: 2.50
Goal: 2.20 (Revised upward, 1/08)
actual: 2.23 (4/08)

Electricity (megawatts)

Prewar: 3,958
Goal: 6,000
actual: 4,030 (4/08)

Since our last monthly report, the monthly American KIA total rose by 20 from 29 in March. Al Maliki's attack on the Shiite extra-legal militias in Basra and Sadr City--whatever its progress--has taken a toll on American as well as Iraqi government fighters. Nevertheless, the monthly American KIA average remains at half the rate of 2 a day sustained for most of the Iraq war, and to date only the monthly average for 2003 is lower than that for 2008. [Please note: the number of KIA is almost always lower than the media-reported total of American deaths, which covers all causes, including non-hostile. Our Iraq and Vietnam figures are KIA only.] Fatal helicopter crashes bring the biggest surge in combat deaths; none have occurred since August 2007.

In April, oil output decreased from 2.38 to 2.23 million barrels a day. Revenue from oil exports continues at all-time highs, with March's total the highest on record. When complete figures are in for April, its revenue should be at or near the top, partly due to oil's all-time high prices. There has been a sharp drop-off in attacks on oil and gas pipelines since August 2007. From June 2003 to August 2007, for over four years, Iraq had to deal with an average of 9 pipeline attacks a month. From September on, the number of attacks has dropped to just one a month. This sharp reduction in pipeline disruptions contributes to Iraq's rising oil revenues.

As with oil, output dropped for electricity, declining from 4,220 megawatts in March to 4,030 megawatts in April. Perhaps disruptions associated with Maliki's offensive against the Shia militias have affected both oil and electricity output. Still, electricity output remains above the 4,000 megawatt threshold. The 4,000 megawatt level may be significant; Iraq needs 8,500 megawatts to meet its demand, and gets from 2,000 to 4,500 megawatts from privately-owned generators.

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