This updated CRS [Congressional Research Service] report discusses the progress being made in the in the areas of governance and security in post-Saddam Iraq. More specifically, in this report "the Administration is claiming success in significantly reducing violence in Iraq to the point where additional U.S. troop reductions can be considered, attributing the gains to a 'troop surge' announced by President Bush on January 10, 2007 ('New Way Forward'). With almost all of the 28,500 'surge' forces withdrawn as of July 2008, Defense Department reports assess that overall violence is down as much as 80% since early 2007, to levels not seen since 2004, but that progress can be 'fragile and tenuous' if not accompanied by national reconciliation and economic development. The Administration believes that additional 'conditions-based' reductions in U.S. forces, continued building of Iraq's security forces, and likely further political progress in Iraq -- is now likely to produce a unified, democratic Iraq that can govern and defend itself and is an ally in the war on terror. The Administration argues that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is increasingly recognized as capable, and that Iraqi legislative action in Iraq since the beginning of 2008 represents a substantial measure of the progress on political reconciliation that was envisioned would be facilitated by the surge. However, Maliki's growing confidence and insistence on a timeline for a U.S. withdrawal is complicating negotiations on a U.S.-Iraq agreement that would govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31339