April 22, 2005
DESPITE a decrease in American deaths in Iraq, Iraqis continue to die and suffer under poor economic conditions, a foreign policy expert said today.
Between 500 and 1000 Iraqis would be killed each month in the war-torn country, the Washington-based The Brookings Institution foreign policy expert Michael O'Hanlon said.
"Unfortunately, things have not yet gotten much better for the Iraqi population either in terms of car bombings or general casualties from crime or from the ongoing civil conflict," Dr O'Hanlon told ABC radio.
Despite a weakening of insurgent forces since the US-led invasion in 2003 and a declining casualty rate for US forces, the situation had not improved for the Iraqi people.
"In the security arena, we've seen a great improvement in the rate of casualties taken by American forces - a much lower rate of fatalities and wounded; probably a 50 to 70 per cent reduction relative to the late fall," he said.
"Unfortunately, those improvements have not yet affected the overall security landscape in Iraq for most Iraqis."
The economic conditions in the country, although gradually improving, were no better than under the leadership of Saddam Hussein.
"I think that the progress here is probably only about back now to where things were under Saddam Hussein.
"The economy is only a little better than it was under Saddam. It may be no better at all if you look at certain indicators like unemployment."
Despite this, the insurgency was weakening - but not defeated, he said.
"I would not want to push the argument so far as to say that the insurgency is fundamentally on its heels or to say that it is so much weaker that it's been unable to continue to inflict random carnage on fellow Iraqi citizens."
A 34-year-old Australian contractor killed in an attack near Baghdad on Wednesday was the fourth Australian death there since the beginning of hostilities in March, 2003. AAP