Unfortunately, violence in Iraq has been rising for the past 3 months.  In Baghdad alone, more than 200 people have been killed in attacks so far in April, compared with 99 last month and 46 in February.  This may be a sign that Iraq’s security gains are beginning to reverse to the levels prior to the US surge. (There were 200 civilian deaths in March 2008).  Large-scale bombings targeting civilians are once again rising, and there is widespread concern among Iraqis that the violence may quickly spread as the U.S. begins to withdraw.

Nationwide, political violence has killed at least 451 people in April, up from 335 in March, 288 in February, and 242 in January, according to the Associated Press tally.

So far, US officials have maintained that the rising violence will not affect plans for US withdrawal of troops. However, the violence will likely translate into higher costs for the US taxpayer — because we will need to provide even more continuing assistance to the struggling Iraqi security forces and police.

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and Iraq expert with the Brookings Institution, called the rise in violence “significant” in an interview with McClatchy News.  “There almost surely won’t be a complete reversal” in the progress that’s been made”, he wrote. “But there could be an end to the progress and even a new, somewhat higher level of ongoing violence.”

The ongoing violence in Iraq is in itself another cost of the war, borne by Iraqi civilians.

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