Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security [October 28, 2008]   [open pdf - 412KB]

"The Administration is claiming success in significantly reducing violence in Iraq as a result of the 'troop surge' announced by President Bush on January 10, 2007 ('New Way Forward'). With the 28,500 'surge' forces withdrawn as of July 2008, Defense Department reports assess that overall violence is down as much as 80% since early 2007, to levels not seen since 2004. Small additional drawdowns are planned for early 2009, but U.S. commanders say that progress is 'fragile and tenuous.' They recommend that measured, incremental 'conditions-based' reductions in U.S. forces, continued building of Iraq's security forces, and likely further political progress in Iraq are needed to produce a unified, democratic Iraq that can govern and defend itself and is an ally in the war on terror. While commanders remain cautious on further U.S. force drawdowns, the Administration argues that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is increasingly recognized as politically strong and capable, and that Iraqi legislative action in Iraq since the beginning of 2008 represents a substantial measure of the progress on political reconciliation that the surge was designed to facilitate. Provincial council elections, originally planned for October 1, 2008, and considered crucial to further reconciliation, are now planned for January 2009 under a newly passed election law. Yet, there are growing tensions between the Shiite-dominated government and those Sunni leaders and fighters who have been key to stabilizing large parts of Iraq, as well as continued concerns over the degree to which the Shiite faction of Moqtada Al Sadr will integrate into the political process. Maliki's insistence on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal and other demands have held up finalizing a U.S.-Iraq agreement that would govern the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq beyond December 2008. Tensions are increasing significantly between the Iraqi Kurds and Iraq's Arab leaders over Kurdish demands for control of disputed areas and energy development in the Kurdish areas."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31339
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://www.fpc.state.gov/
Media Type:
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