Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
In the comments thread of COL Lang's recent post on Maliki's most recent activities vis a vis the US, WP asked about Iraqi demographics. I was involved in several attempts during OIF 2008 to develop census protocals, specifically for Mada'in Qada, which, along with part of Wassit Province, was my BCT's OE (OE Striker). What I developed borrowed from the last census Saddam's government had carried out (for familiarity) and from the UN's Food Security Survey of Iraq (they had THE BEST demographic questions). We were never able to execute on the tasker, however, because of orders from higher (Division and Theater Command) that always took precedence. One of the reasons my BCT's leadership was interesting in conducting a census was in support of the local qada (an agricultural district in Baghdad Province, but outside of municipal/greater Baghdad) government as under the CPA Mada'in had been put into Diyala Province (which is geographically where it belongs as part of the Diyala Watershed, but it has historically, in the modern period, been politically part of Baghdad Province). As a result of having its political connections mucked about with, it was important to get an accurate accounting of population size so that the new qada leadership could back up their requests for funding. Attached is the pdf of the UN's most recent Food Security Survey for Iraq and when I get the chance over the next day or so, I'll try to dig out where I've got the best estimations of the sectarian breakdown.
I came across this, which is consistent with most of the stuff I have seen over the past several years in estimating the sectarian breakdown in Iraq. As COL Lang noted, they have not done an official count by sect in a long time (1957) even though the last official census was in 1987. Basically none of the groups wants to change the official numbers by getting actual up to date official numbers.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.