The Ethno-Sectarian Violence Maps of the Petraeus Report

Courtesy of Zen Pundit and the Small Wars Council, I was able to read the testimony and examine the presentation of the report that General Petraeus, of the Multinational Force – Iraq, gave to the Congress. The fifth slide is titled “Ethno-Sectarian” violence, and contains maps of Sunni v. Shia attacks on December 2006, February 2007, May 2007, and August 2007.

The Battle of Baghdad

What’s strange about it is that the neighborhood map does not change. The detailed color-coded representation of Baghdad, with Green for majority Shia, blue for majority Sunni, and orange for mixed appears to be the same now as it was twenty months ago.

Detailed view

Everywhere, of course, one reads about the etnic cleansing of Baghdad. So what gives? I’m assuming that those who prepared the slides for Petraeus used the last available census information for generating the ethnic neighborhood maps, but alternatively (and less likely, in my opinion) the discussion of ongoing ethnic cleansing could be overblown.

A virtual Baghdad?

Finally, presuming the violence in Baghdad is leading to ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, it would be interesting to compare a real time-sequenced map of Baghdad with theoretical work on homogenization and inter-group tournaments that’s now appearing in the academic literature.

4 thoughts on “The Ethno-Sectarian Violence Maps of the Petraeus Report”

  1. Dan, It would be interesting to see the comparison over the past three or four years. Then-MG Pete Chiarelli, when his 1st Armored Division was responsible for security in Baghdad during the first Iraqi elections, saw a clear correlation between “quality of life” (e.g., reliable electricity, potable water, sewage disposal and trash collection) and attacks against his soldiers. “Sadr City” (the strongly Shi'a enclave on the northeast of Baghdad) was the site of most of the attacks. Once he reassigned his artillery brigade commander as a full-time “public works” coordinator, the “insurgency” dropped off dramatically.

  2. Shane,

    Absolutely! It's in areas like this that real social science might be useful. Does ethnic homogeneity or social services matter more when establishing security? Is there an interaction effect? &c.

  3. What is ethno-sectarian? The Sunni & Shia are religious sects not different ethnicities. They are both Arab by blood and language and both Iraqi by nationality. If their are other ethnic groups, like Iranians (Persians)or Israelis, or Africans, or Irish, I have not herad of them. The violence is sectarian between the Sunni & Shia who represent the split in Islam after the death of Muhammed.

  4. Jimmy,

    While certainly you are not the first purpose to question the term [1], it has been in use since the 1970s [2] to describe conflicts where ethnic and sectarian strife blend into each other. Thus it is appropriate for the problems of Iraq, which features ethnic violence (Kurds v. Arabs), sectarian violence (Shia v. Sunnis), and conflicts that feature both (Yazdi Kurds v. Qaedist Arabs, etc).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *