Baghdad's Deteriorating Security Situation*

By late 2013, Baghdad was the epicentre of Iraq’s violence. Likely contributory factors to the violence afflicting Baghdad are the prevalence of numerous sectarian fault lines within the city, mixed neighbourhoods and the ease of access from and proximity to predominantly Sunni provinces such as al-Anbar and Salaheddine. In 2013 Baghdad experienced the highest proportion of car-bomb, improvised explosive device (IED) and suicide attacks in Iraq, with almost 20% of all attacks in the country being carried out in this province. The heightened militant violence is primarily being driven by rising anti-government and anti-Shia sentiment among the Sunni population, and takes place despite intense counter-terrorism operations in northern, western, and central Iraqi provinces. Deep social divisions mean there is little chance of reconciliation and without broad reconciliation, security operations within and around Baghdad are unlikely to succeed in reversing the rise in insurgent attacks during 2014.

* The Intelligence Review article was originally published in December 2013, the described security situation in Baghdad refers to the status at that time.

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Keeping an Eye on Conflict Areas

Airbus Defence and Space has partnered with information and analytics specialist IHS Jane's to support the GEOINT community by leveraging satellite imagery for open source intelligence. IHS Jane's is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of the company.

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Through the cooperation, Airbus Defence and Space provides newly acquired imagery from its Pléiades, SPOT and TerraSAR-X satellites over pertinent areas of interest around the globe. IHS Jane's utilizes the data as primary information source and for fusion with open source information, delivering reliable news, insight and actionable intelligence.

In this map, SPOT 6 imagery was used as a backdrop to illustrate analytic results based on merged multi-source data sets. The relative level of violent risk from car bombs, militia fighting and incidents of communal violence across the various neighbourhoods of Baghdad is depicted in different colours. The hazard is classified on a scale from very low risk to a severe risk with almost weekly incidents. The scale is relative to the overall risks within Baghdad, as opposed to other cities, countries or regions. Accordingly, the lowest score still carries a moderate risk of assassinations and incidents of communal violence.

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  • Geospatial data plays a critical role in developing intelligence, formulating strategic policy and driving operational interventions
  • Combining IHS Jane’s insight and analytical expertise with Airbus Defence and Space’s multi-resolution, multi-sensor imaging satellite data portfolio delivers reliable news, intelligence and analysis for defence and security issues

Baghdad's Deteriorating Security Situation