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Iraq Benchmark Report Card

One Year After the Surge

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Total Benchmarks: 3 of 18 Accomplished

On the one year anniversary of President Bush’s State of the Union address justifying his "New Way Forward" in Iraq, it is clear that the surge has failed to meet its objectives. One year ago, the president pledged that “America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced." Despite the fact that the Iraqi government has only met three of the 18 benchmarks laid out last year, an end to U.S. military and financial commitment is nowhere in sight.

The purpose of the surge was to provide the “breathing space” for political reconciliation to occur. Yet over one year later, political progress has been scant, and what progress has been made is not durable. The Iraqis have not made the difficult political compromises necessary for national reconciliation, and an indefinite U.S. presence in the region will not inspire them to do so. Despite the best efforts of our military men and women in creating a temporary lull in violence, substantial advancement toward a sustainable and independent Iraq has not been made.

In order to motivate Iraq’s political leaders, the United States must set a date certain for withdrawal. Only then will the Iraqis make the difficult political compromises necessary for national reconciliation. While redeploying our forces over the next 10-12 months, the United States must initiate a diplomatic surge to ensure that all of Iraq’s neighbors are involved constructively in Iraq’s future. Only by implementing a Strategic Reset in Iraq will the United States be able to take control of its own national security interests in the country and the greater Middle East.

 

Government Benchmarks: 2 of 8 Accomplished

1. Perform constitutional review. Unmet

2. Enact de-Ba’athification reform. Partial

4. Form semi-autonomous regions. Unmet

5. Hold provincial elections. Unmet

6. Address amnesty. Unmet

8. Establish support for Baghdad Security Plan. Met

16. Ensure minority rights in Iraqi legislature. Met

18. Keep Iraqi Security Forces free from partisan interference. Unmet

 

Security Benchmarks: 1 of 8 Accomplished

7. Disarm militias. Unmet

9. Provide military support in Baghdad. Partial

10. Empower Iraqi Security Forces. Partial

11. Ensure impartial law enforcement. Unmet

12. Establist support for Baghdad Security Plan by Maliki government. Unmet

13. Reduce sectarian violence. Partial

14. Establish neighborhood security in Baghdad. Met

15. Increase independent Iraqi Security Focres. Unmet

 

Economic Benchmarks: 0 of 2 Accomplished

3. Implement oil legislation. Unmet

17. Distribute Iraqi resources equitably. Partial

 


 

Government Benchmarks: 2 of 8 Accomplished

1. Form a Constitutional Review Committee and complete the constitutional review.

“Iraq’s government is at a stalemate.”
-Mowaffak al Rubaie, Iraqi National Security Advisor, Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2008.

Status: Unmet
At the start of 2007, President Bush declared that a constitutional review was critical to forming a more inclusive Iraqi government. But there has been no substantive progress other than the formation of the Constitutional Review Committee in May 2006. The constitutional review has been delayed for a fourth time and is now running a year behind schedule. Without the CRC’s recommendations, the Iraqi parliament has not been able to make progress in amending Iraq’s constitution.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
On the eve of Iraq’s constitutional referendum in October 2005, leading Sunni groups agreed to enter the political process on the condition that a constitutional review, with the inclusive participation of all the leading Iraqi factions, would make revisions on key clauses of the constitution. In order to move forward with these essential legislative initiatives, a constitutional convention should be held on an emergency basis in conjunction with an international conference involving Iraq’s neighbors. The process of setting this up will take considerable time given the complex clash of interests, but the delay in revising the constitution could hinder progress on other key issues that are fundamental to Iraqi national reconciliation.

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2. Enact and implement legislation on de-Ba’athification reform.

The complicated new law on de-Ba’athification has been, in the words of a senior Iraqi official, “a big mess, perhaps worse than if we had done nothing.”
-Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, Jan. 21, 2008.

Status: Partial
In early January 2008, the Iraqi parliament passed the “Accountability and Justice Law,” the first legislation addressing de-Ba’athification since the Coalition Provisional Authority dismissed approximately 150,000 Ba’athists from government positions in 2003. This new legislation is meant to allow many of these former Ba’athists party members to return to government work or begin receiving pensions. However, the controversial legislation, passed with the support of less than a third of Iraq’s members of parliament on a day when the body barely achieved a quorum, has received significant criticism from former Ba’athists and some Sunni groups.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
The success of the De-Ba’athification legislation can only be judged by its implementation, and in this it will face serious challenges. At the surface level the Justice and Accountability Legislation appears to be a step in the right direction, but a closer reading reveals that it is riddled with considerable loopholes. More than a dozen Iraqi lawmakers, U.S. officials, and former Baathists here and in exile expressed concern in interviews that the law could set off a new purge of ex-Baathists, the opposite of U.S. hopes for the legislation. According to Khalaf Aulian, a Sunni politician, the de-Ba’athification law “will remain as a sword on the neck of the people.”

The Accountability and Justice Law has great potential for sectarian abuse. Some Shiite politicians hailed its passing because it would ban members of even the lowest party levels from the most important ministries: justice, interior, defense, finance, and foreign. Since scores of division members—at least 7,000, according to the de-Baathification commission—occupy jobs in those ministries, that means the new law could purge them from their current positions. As a result of the passage, the Iraqi government might use the law as an excuse not to fulfill its pledge to offer thousands of Sunni Awakening and Concerned Local Citizens groups jobs in the ISF. As with several benchmarks, simply passing legislation is not enough. The core issues are deeply rooted in a sectarian power struggle that requires immediate diplomatic intervention.

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4. Enact and implement legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

“A system devolving power to the regions is the route to a viable Iraq.”
-Mowaffak al Rubaie, Iraqi National Security Advisor, Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2008.

Status: Unmet
The Iraqi parliament has not resolved the unanswered questions related to semi-autonomous regions. Moreover, the referendum on the status of Kirkuk and associated territories, which, according to Iraq’s constitution, should have taken place before the end of 2007, has been delayed once again. Similarly, referendums scheduled to take place in April in other regions throughout Iraq, including the Shi’a-dominated south, if held, could spark an escalation of violence between sectarian and ethnic groups throughout the country.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Working with partners in the international community, the United States should place even greater emphasis on empowering provincial and local governing authorities to improve the lives of Iraqis. To head off an escalation of conflict, the United States should support international diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions among competing Iraqi factions over establishing semi-autonomous regions. Instead of a “one size fits all” Iraq policy, the United States should adapt its strategy to reflect the different realities that exist in the different corners of Iraq. Meanwhile, the United States should work with international aid agencies to boost the capacity of local and provincial governments through the deployment of provincial and regional reconstruction teams.

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5. Enact and implement legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker has rightfully identified the staging of provincial elections as a priority.
Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2008

Status: Unmet
Legislation on the provincial elections remains stalled in the Iraqi Parliament.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
During his New Way Forward address, President Bush stated that, “to empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year.” Holding provincial elections is a fundamental step in overcoming Iraq’s decentralized power structure. To ensure that these elections do not have a destabilizing effect, the United States should work with the neighboring countries and international organizations to help Iraq’s leaders come to agreement on the terms and conditions for holding these elections.

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6. Enact and implement legislation addressing amnesty.

“True national reconciliation must embody the principle of letting bygones be bygones and must embrace everyone, including those [insurgents] who put down their weapons and declare their support for a free, democratic, federal, and diverse Iraq.”
-Tariq al-Hashemi, Vice President of Iraq, Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 2007.

Status: Unmet
Parliament has yet to pass any legislation concerning amnesty. Meanwhile, the number of prisoners held by U.S. and Iraqi authorities has increased to more than 50,000. According to a press briefing with Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, Chief of Public Affairs Multinational Force – Iraq, only 10 to 15 percent, or possibly 20 percent, of the detainee population in Iraq are hard-core, irreconcilable al-Qaeda in Iraq members.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Lasting national reconciliation requires that Iraq’s central government find a way to provide amnesty for some of the former combatants who are now committed to nonviolence and support Iraq’s political transition. U.S. and Iraqi authorities must weed through Iraqi detainees who are committed to non-violence and strike an amnesty deal to provide national reconciliation.

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8. Establish supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

“The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad—and they must do so.”
-President Bush, 2007 State of the Union.

Status: Met
The Iraqi government has established various committees in support of the Baghdad security plan. It sent three more brigades to Baghdad, but these brigades were understaffed.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Although the Iraqi government has managed to form several committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan, their formation has not delivered tangible results. Infighting among political leaders means that support for security will likely still be along sectarian lines, with Shiites opposing Sunnis in the security forces and vice versa. Full government support for security cannot come until there is resolution of differences between sectarian factions.

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16. Ensure that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

“First: The freedom of forming and of joining associations and political parties is guaranteed. This will be organized by law…Second: It is prohibited to force any person to join any party, society or political entity or force him to continue his membership in it.”
-Article 37, Constitution of Iraq.

Status: Met
The rights of minority political parties within the legislature are protected under Article 37 of the Iraqi Constitution and Council of Representatives’ by-laws.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Although the rights of political minorities are legally protected according to the law, their participation has been limited. In order to have a successful Iraqi government, minority parties must not only have a nominal set of rights; they must be able to function within the system. Within the Iraqi Parliament, ethnic and sectarian collusion and power blocs are common, effectively disenfranchising minority groups. More steps need to be taken to guarantee political incorporation for all political parties.

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18. Ensure that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

“Rampant corruption and lingering sectarianism within the Iraqi security forces are also major hurdles that Iraqi defense and police leaders must overcome in order to take responsibility for Iraq’s security.”
-Lt. General James Dubik, Head of the Multinational Security Transition Team in Iraq, Washington Post, Jan. 18, 2008.

Status: Unmet
While President Bush stated that “Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated,” there has been an uneven reduction of political interference in Iraqi National Police activities. Additionally, the Iraqi Military is still hindered in its ability to independently make military decisions free from interference from outside political and sectarian actors, particularly the office of Prime Minister Maliki.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
In order to have a secure and stable Iraq, it is crucial that the Iraqi Security Forces be free from partisan political interference. Uneven enforcement of laws and political interference threatens the ISF and de-legitimizes Iraqi rule of law. Those found to have ties to militias or insurgent groups must be fired from the security forces immediately. In some cases, American soldiers have been killed by the Iraqi security forces they were training, an unacceptable cost for the U.S. military. By eliminating militia and insurgent ties within the Iraq armed forces, the Iraqi Security Forces will be able to better secure the country, reduce sectarian violence, and maintain a sense of law and order.

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Security Benchmarks: 1 of 8 Accomplished

7. Enact and implement legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the constitution of Iraq.

“We are paying them [Concerned Local Citizens groups] not to blow us up. It looks good right now, but what happens when the money stops?”
-First Sgt. Richard Meiers of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2008.

Status: Unmet
The Iraqi parliament has not yet considered legislation that would establish a disarmament program. In a reversal of this goal, the United States is training and paying Sunni militias—the Concerned Local Citizens groups—many of whom were former insurgents. None of these groups have pledged loyalty to the central government. While overwhelmingly Sunni (80 percent), there are several thousand Shi’a members of these Concerned Local Citizen groups, mostly in mixed neighborhoods in and around Baghdad. American commanders report that many of the sheiks that associated with Al Qaeda in Iraq are now the leaders of some of the CLC groups. Meanwhile, Muqtada al Sadr has ordered his Mahdi Army to stand down and cease fighting.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Disarming Iraq’s many competing militias and incorporating them into the Iraqi Security Forces is a fundamental step to ensuring rule of law and an Iraqi government monopoly on the use of force. To date, a mere 2 percent (1,600) have been incorporated into the ISF. While Sunni groups have helped bring about a temporary lull in violence, there has been no strategy for integrating these militias into the Iraqi Security Forces or other government jobs. The Shi’a-dominated central government feels threatened by the recent Sunni resurgence and has expressed staunch opposition to incorporating these groups, risking their disaffection and a return to the insurgency.

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9. Provide an additional three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

Status: Partial
By July 2007, the Iraqis provided three additional brigades to support operations in and around Baghdad. Yet these brigades have consistently been understaffed. The actual number of Iraqi forces in Baghdad has dropped from 18 to 15 brigades, a loss partially attributed to the redeployment of Iraqi troops to other unstable areas. President Bush’s goals to “help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped Army and … accelerate the training of Iraqi forces,” have fallen short.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
The redeployment of Iraqi forces to problem areas in Diyala and Mosul reflect the difficulties inherent in counterinsurgency strategy. When the United States and its coalition partners have been able to mass forces in a particular location, the insurgency has regrouped and relocated to another area. Simply providing three additional Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations is not sufficient to stabilize the country.

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10. Provide Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. commanders without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

Status: Partial
Political intervention in military and police forces persist on sectarian lines. Political conflict between the Shiite government and military with the Sunni Awakening councils and Concerned Local Citizen groups laid the groundwork for a potentially dangerous confrontation in the near future. Iraqi government officials have said they worry that the Awakening councils might undermine efforts by the Iraqi military and police.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Iraqi Army commanders have apparently been given wider latitude, but American commanders do not trust them sufficiently to include them in planning for major operations, such as Operation Phantom Phoenix—the recent thrust into Diyala province’s breadbasket region.

U.S. forces, rather than Iraqi Security Forces, have been the primary mover against Shi’a militias. Moreover, reports have emerged of isolated skirmishes between Sunni militias on the U.S. payroll and ISF units in Baghdad. There has been marginal progress on increasing the independence of the Iraqi military, but overall problems of infiltration and political control remain. Ultimately, a delicate balance between retaining civilian control over the military, creating a professional force, and preventing abusive use of the military by civilians needs to be struck. Sole American focus on training Iraq’s military ignores these factors.

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11. Ensure that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.

“Iraqi police are disloyal,” said the Iraqi police chief, adding that he could not trust one in three of his own officers, but he could not fire the ones he did not trust because they had political protection.
-General Abdul Hussein Al Saffe, Head of Iraqi police in Dhi Qar province, March 20, 2007.

"Sectarianism has undermined effective command and control in the Iraqi police forces.”
-GAO, November 30, 2007

Status: Unmet
While the Iraqi Army has made some progress, many units of the National Police are not free from political interference by sectarian actors within the central government. The Ministry of Interior is particularly dysfunctional and acts as an arm of Shiite extremists. The independent commission, led by General Jones, examined the status of the Iraqi Security Forces and concluded that the Ministry of Interior is “a ministry in name only.” This meddling has severely compromised the Iraqi Security Forces’ ability to “even-handedly” enforce the law. The Jones Commission also found that several National Police brigades have been significantly infiltrated by members of numerous militias, and that these individuals not only remain loyal to their militia, but also participate in “sectarian extracurricular activities.”

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
A non-political National Police is vital to protecting Iraqis regardless of their ethno-sectarian identity and central to the long-term establishment of security in Iraq. Yet the police are still wrapped up in political intervention by sectarian actors within the government.

Rather than putting so much effort into building a national police under the control of a dysfunctional national Ministry of Interior, the United States, working with other countries under the umbrella of a new U.N. mandate, should develop police- and security-sector reforms that build local police authorities and make them accountable to local governing structures. The national military and police units are currently too compromised by political and sectarian discord at the national level to be of much value to provincial and local leaders. In addition to local police units, the United States, working with international aid organizations, should work to build the crucial judicial sector in order to strengthen court systems in Iraq.

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12. Ensure that the Baghdad Security Plan will not provide a safe haven for outlaws of any sectarian or political affiliation.

“They [Iraq’s leaders] have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad—and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party—and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad.”
-President Bush, 2007 State of the Union.

Status: Unmet
Maliki remains committed to this benchmark in name only. Both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior are still hampered by sectarianism, and since January 2007, the Ministry of the Interior has had to replace 70 percent of the senior commanders in the National Police because they were suspected of sectarianism. Though the Ministry of the Interior did not disband the national police as the Jones commission’s report recommended, rooting out those acting on a sectarian basis has meant purging nearly the entire upper echelons of the National Police. In October the Ministry of the Interior fired the commanders of both national police divisions, and 90 percent of brigade commanders. But distrust of the police among Iraqis still remains widespread.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Numerous commanders who act on sectarian biases have been ousted by the government, but more needs to be done in this area. Sectarian bias and conflict remains a major problem for the Iraqi government. This requires bringing in outside parties to help Iraq’s leaders settle their differences.

Sunni insurgents who have been pushed out of Baghdad are heading north to Mosul, making it their new haven and showing that this benchmark has not been met. The United States needs to encourage an increased leadership role by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and other international mediators, such as representatives from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Representatives from these organizations would face some problems operating in certain parts of Iraq due to the security situation, but they may be seen as more credible mediators than U.S. soldiers and diplomats. Until such steps are taken by the United States, biases in the Maliki government will continue to affect its ability to be independent and promote an effective security plan.

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13. Reduce the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminate militia control of local security.

“Regrettably, two other uncomfortable developments also helped suppress violence. First, the Iraqi population has largely segregated itself into sectarian fiefs. Second, supposedly ‘reformed’ insurgents now dominate Anbar Province. While these Sunni partisans have for the moment sided with the United States, can we assume they’ve bought into the idea of a truly pluralistic and democratic Iraq?”
-Major General Charles Dunlap Jr., USAF, The New York Times, Jan. 9, 2008.

Status: Partial
There has been an overall reduction in the unprecedented high levels of sectarian violence which existed until mid-2007 partially due to the temporary increase in U.S. forces, and the arming and paying of numerous Concerned Local Citizens and Awakening Council movements. While high-profile car bombings have occurred with frequency in the early part of 2008, ethno-sectarian violence is now mostly limited to the few mixed Sunni-Shiite areas that have not been ethnically cleansed.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
During his New Way Forward address, President Bush stated that “only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.” There has been a significant reduction in sectarian violence, but it is largely due to several factors that were not instigated by the Iraqi government.

The decrease in sectarian violence is largely due to an increase in neighborhood segregation. Tens of thousands of Sunnis have been cleared out of western Baghdad and blast walls have been erected throughout the capital to ensure homogeneous neighborhoods. In this sense decline in sectarian violence can be viewed as a short-term success in segregating Baghdad neighborhoods into sectarian fiefdoms. With more than 2.5 million internally displaced Iraqis and an additional 2.5 million Iraqi refugees residing throughout the Middle East, the decrease in sectarian violence is bound to reverse in coming months as the resettlement process begins. Even with a few thousand Iraqis returning recently, there has been a spike in sectarian violence.

Concerned Local Citizens and Anbar Awakening councils have shouldered a part of the responsibility of providing security in many neighborhoods and localities. The United States and its allies need to continue promoting neighborhood security and reducing sectarian violence, and also pressure the Iraqi government to incorporate these groups into the ISF and other government posts. Since these groups have no loyalty to the central government, they will take up arms again unless they receive their fair share of government jobs and support. Their disaffection and return to the insurgency will undermine the security progress to date.

The Mahdi Army ceasefire has played a significant role in tamping down the violence. With the Jaish al Mahdi lying low for the time being, sectarian reprisal killings dropped dramatically. Yet this ceasefire is largely a strategic regrouping and can be called off at any time.

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14. Establish all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

“Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.”
-President Bush, New Way Forward address, Jan. 10, 2007.

Status: Met
As of Sept. 2007, 32 of the 33 Joint Security Stations had been established in Baghdad. U.S. military personnel are still providing significant tactical oversight of the security operations emanating from these Joint Security Stations.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Though all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad have been established, the United States continues to play a dominant role in the operation of these facilities. To quote Captain Feese, company A commander of the Second Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, many Iraqis are hesitant to work closely with the Americans because “they know I’m going home.” The Americans need to transfer control to the Iraqi Security Forces in preparation for the phased troop reduction.

Moreover, American and Iraqi forces need to address the violence, which is cropping up in regions without joint security stations. Although violence in Baghdad and other cities is on the decline due to increased numbers of Iraqi and American forces and ethnic cleansing, there are an increasing number of clashes in less patrolled regions such as Diyala province and Mosul.

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15. Increase the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

“For the present time, Coalition partnership and support remains necessary for most ISF operations.”
-The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, Sept. 2007.

Status: Unmet
President Bush pledged that “as we fight the terrorists, we’re working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight—and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.” While the Iraqi Security Forces have grown in number to over 500,000, their ability to operate independently is still unproven. The ISF’s ability to provide security independent of U.S. supervision still leaves much to be desired. As of Dec. 2007, only nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces were under ISF control.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
It is imperative that the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of operating without U.S. support and intervention. Yet the time when the ISF is able to act independently is nowhere in sight. Recently, Iraqi defense minister Abdul Qadir indicated that U.S. forces would need to assist Iraqi security forces in defending Iraq’s borders from external threats until at least 2018 or 2020, and would not be able to assume responsibility for internal security until 2012—five years later than President Bush had promised.

Both Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush have indicated a willingness to keep American troops in Iraq for at least 10 years without regard to the costs in both human lives and dollars and to our overall national security. The fundamental question underpinning ISF independent operations is not resources and training, but motivation; with U.S. forces remaining in Iraq indefinitely, the Iraqis have no incentive to take the burden of providing security themselves.

The United States should cease unconditional funding for Iraq’s national security forces and enforce the Leahy amendment prohibiting U.S. security assistance to foreign security units with probable gross violations of human rights. The United States needs to increase oversight over weapons and equipment being provided to these forces, while requiring Iraqi national security forces to take control. Furthermore, the United States needs to demand a greater degree of political consensus among Iraq’s leaders as a condition for future security-sector assistance in order to reduce the probability of arming troops for a civil war.

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Economic Benchmarks: 0 of 2 Accomplished

3. Enact and implement legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon energy resources to the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients.

“To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.”
-President Bush, New Way Forward address, Jan. 10, 2008.

Status: Unmet
No oil revenue legislation has been passed at the national level. However, claims have been made that the revenue from the sale of hydrocarbons is being equitably distributed across Iraq. Overall framework, revenue sharing, and ministry of oil restructuring laws have been drafted and reviewed, but have yet to advance to the Council of Representatives. Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Regional Government has entered into several contracts with private oil companies to develop their own oil fields.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Agreement on sharing oil revenue is critical to building trust across all of Iraq sects and ethnic groups. The influx of foreign investment, domestic revenue, and stability would give all Iraqis a stake in a future Iraq. The central government has recently distributed some oil revenue, but this can be reversed at any time since no legislation has been passed at the national level. Iraq’s considerable oil and gas resources give it advantages that other countries like Afghanistan do not have, but until Iraq’s internal conflicts are settled peacefully, it will not be able to take advantage of these resources and revenues to improve the quality of life for its people. According to recent reports, Iraq’s oil industry will require billions of dollars of investment to enhance its production capacity, but this investment is not likely to materialize until there is political reconciliation.

Iraq’s national government may at some point take action on finalizing new oil- and revenue-sharing laws. These laws may even win the approval of the national parliament. But the greater challenge will come in implementing the laws’ provisions equitably.

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17. Allocate and spend $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

“To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.”
-President Bush, New Way Forward address, Jan. 10, 2008.

Status: Partial
The government of Iraq allocated $10 billion of its 2007 revenues for capital projects and reconstruction, including capital funds for the provinces based on their populations, but nearly all of this money has been unspent. Although Gen. Petraeus boasted that by July 2007, Iraq had spent some 24 percent of $10 billion set aside for reconstruction that year, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office has revealed that only 4.4 percent of the reconstruction budget had been spent by August 2007. It also reported that the rate of spending had substantially slowed from the previous year. By the end of 2007, only $3 billion had been spent by the Iraqi government. At the beginning of 2008, the government of Iraq, recognizing the difficulty it encountered in spending all of the funds it allocated for capital projects in 2007, reduced its 2008 capital budget by 57 percent.

Analysis and Policy Prescription:
Iraq’s inability to even spend its own money calls into question the administration’s claim that the country will actually be able to use the support if provided. Despite recent security progress, the Pentagon has concluded that even these temporary security gains have not increased the capacity of the central government to improve the delivery of essential services. Additionally, among Iraqi officials significant fears persist that their actions in the awarding of contracts and allocation of funds may be perceived by some as evidence of corruption, and they are hesitant to pass through bills concerning the budget. According to the State Department, Iraq’s Contracting Committee requires about a dozen signatures to approve projects exceeding $10 million, a practice which slows the process considerably.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker hopes the Iraqi government will pass a law establishing a budget by mid-January. Consensus on legislation does not guarantee proper implementation, but meaningful legislation and implementation cannot occur without power-sharing in the government. Further impeding the budgetary process is the fact that, because of the de-Ba’athification process and the number of civil servants fleeing the country, there is not a competent bureaucracy in place to distribute it. Moreover, in Sunni areas reconstruction efforts are withheld for sectarian reasons. A budget is necessary for the Iraqi people to feel more at ease and improve living conditions, but it is unlikely to occur under current governmental circumstances.

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