Violence was already on the rise in March, with tensions soaring and Iraq seeing spillover violence from neighboring Syria’s ongoing civil war. The last week of April saw deaths spike to a near-term high.
Agence-France Presse is putting the April toll at 460 killed overall, which with roughly 300 killed last week alone seems a tad on the low side. The violence centered in northwestern Iraq, starting with a military crackdown in Hawija.
But while exact figures may vary among different estimators, trends do not, and the trend is that Iraq, whose level of violence never really went down all the much after the end of the US occupation, is rapidly growing, by the UN’s reckoning now in line with Summer 2008.
Officials have tried the usual downplaying of the violence, coupled with blaming the media, but the unrest among Iraq’s Sunni Arabs isn’t just some transient problem, but rather a long-standing concern that the Maliki government has shown little aptitude at acknowledging, let alone addressing.