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Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

June 2007
Report to Congress
In accordance with the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2007
(Section 9010, Public Law 109-289)

Section 1-Stability and Security

1.1 Political Stability

The United States and its Coalition partners are working with the Iraqi government to safeguard political gains in Iraq. In January 2007 President Bush announced a new approach-the New Way Forward-that puts greater emphasis on the diplomatic, political, and economic steps that must be integrated with security operations to bring about stability and security in Iraq. A more inclusive political process in Iraq should help bring reconcilable elements into a process of accommodation and isolate irreconcilable groups seeking to undermine these objectives. To support these efforts, the U.S. Government (USG) is working with the Government of Iraq (GoI) to strengthen institutions that foster the conditions for national reconciliation and transcend regional, sectarian, and tribal divisions. During the period covered in this report, few of the key legislative or reconciliation actions were completed, but some progress was achieved. Additionally, efforts to bring broader international assistance to Iraq made headway with the attendance of more than 70 countries at the International Compact with Iraq and the Neighbors Conference held in Egypt on May 3-4, 2007 respectively.

National Reconciliation

This quarter saw a greatly increased effort to secure turbulent areas to give Iraqis political space to implement reforms and pursue reconciliation among competing factions. Some analysts see a growing fragmentation of Iraq; most Iraqis, however, continue to believe that Iraq should remain a unified state.

In order to fulfill this objective, reconciliation among Iraq's various sects and ethnic groups is necessary for long-term stability but has been complicated by violence and slow progress in forging cooperation among political parties, as well as by the dominance of identity politics over politics based on issues. Reconciliation measures attempt to address Sunni fear of marginalization in the new Iraqi political order and of governmental leniency toward attacks by Shi'a militia. A greater Sunni role in the political process will require that Sunni leaders be taken into the confidence of the government's Shi'a leaders. The meeting in early May between Prime Minister Maliki and Vice President Hashimi is the type of interaction that is needed. At the same time, the Shi'a-dominated government is vulnerable to pressure from large numbers of economically disadvantaged, marginalized Shi'a who have little access to public services and oppose the Coalition presence-a gap that militias and radicals such as Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) have exploited by attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces to build "street-level" support. Fear of a Sunni return to power and splits within the Shi'a community-such as between the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), formerly SCIRI, and the Sadrists-will continue to impede formation of a "Shi'a consensus" and complicate reconciliation with the Sunnis. Mass-casualty attacks on Shi'a targets and the April 12, 2007 attack on the Council of Representatives (CoR) have made the Shi'a wary of reconciliation. There is also significant evidence of violence against Sunni Arabs, sometimes involving government security forces, that undermines reconciliation efforts and has contributed to the displacement of an estimated two million Iraqis from their homes. On the positive side, an increasing number of tribal leaders-some of whom have associations with the insurgency-are resisting attempts by al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to dominate the Sunni areas of Iraq. With the right mechanisms, these Sunni leaders could pursue reconciliation with the GoI. The lack of unity among Sunni groups, however, continues to limit their effectiveness in the political process.

Political Commitments

An important element of the New Way Forward is that Iraqis take the lead in devising their own strategy and commit to significant political, economic, and security steps. Reaching consensus among a wide array of political factions with competing agendas has proven difficult, and efforts to pass this legislation are progressing more slowly than desired. These include:

  • Hydrocarbon Law. The package of hydrocarbon laws has the potential to promote political unity by enabling all Iraqis to benefit from the nation's hydrocarbon resources. The hydrocarbon law is essential to the development of Iraq's oil sector by providing the legal framework necessary to attract billions of investment dollars for the oil sector's needs. Three supporting implementing laws are required: one to manage revenues, another to re-organize the Oil Ministry, and one to establish an Iraq National Oil Company. The Council of Ministers (CoM) approved the draft framework law on February 26, 2007, but it has yet to be presented to the CoR for legislative action as it lacks a formula for national revenue sharing and control over regional oil fields, which remains a particular issue with senior leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The GoI held an educational session in Dubai in April to prepare legislators for rapid action on the package, once approved.
  • De-Ba'athification Reform. De- Ba'athification reform received considerable press attention following the March announcement that Prime Minister Maliki and President Talabani had signed a cover letter affirming political support for the draft De-Ba'athification law. Strong resistance to the return of Ba'athist officials persists, particularly in Kurdish areas and among Shi'a leaders, despite provisions in the draft law intended to exclude former officials believed to be culpable for human rights abuses. Reforms could be delayed by months, and high-profile attacks by Sunni insurgents and extremists could continue to exacerbate Shi'a fears of a Ba'athist resurgence.
  • Constitutional Review. The Iraqi Constitution establishes a list of vital rights and freedoms, but additional legislation is needed to implement these guarantees and further define the design of the Iraqi state, including its federal structure. Iraq's Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) began work on November 15, 2006 but did not meet the May 15 deadline to submit its recommendations to the CoR for approval. The chair of the CRC, however, sent the CoR Speaker a letter on May 15 outlining the CRC's progress. According to UN advisors working with the committee, the CRC is taking its work seriously, and as of this period was preparing to issue a set of recommendations. Iraq's Constitution specifies that a national referendum on recommended amendments will be held within two months of CoR approval.
  • Provincial Election Law. The Independent High Electoral Commission was established, and its nine commissioners were selected as of April 28, 2007. The law setting the date for provincial and local elections has not been passed, however, and may be delayed until the fall legislative session. The provincial powers law was submitted to the CoR and has undergone two of three required readings. Depending in part on how electoral districts are drawn, a provincial powers law could result in a more responsive, representative government that could assume more responsibility for delivering services to local constituencies.

Government Reform

Strong democratic institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis, foster conditions for national reconciliation, and transcend regional, sectarian and tribal divisions remain critical to Iraq's success. Recognizing the poor performance of some ministries, Prime Minister Maliki promised to reform his government to fight corruption, reduce sectarianism, and improve the provision of essential services to all Iraqis. Prime Minister Maliki publicly welcomed the announcement on April 16 by the Office of the Martyr Sadr (OMS) that Sadrist ministers are withdrawing from the Cabinet, and after at least one false-start, he nominated replacements. Prime Minister Maliki, President Talabani, Vice President Hashimi, and Vice President Adil Mahdi are attempting to formalize the role of the Presidency Council in the government decisionmaking process to develop an institutional foundation for consensus building on controversial issues. Iraqi politicians continue to make little progress toward enacting laws that could advance reconciliation. In light of the urgent need to work on these laws, it is expected the CoR will remain in session through the end of July.

To enhance reforms, the U.S. Government is assisting Iraqi governmental reform efforts in several areas:

  • Ministerial Capacity Development. With the major portion of the U.S. reconstruction commitment completed, the Iraqi ministries will play a larger role in funding, managing and executing reconstruction projects. This will require additional U.S. assistance to build ministerial capacity through efforts of advisors and trainers. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is implementing a National Capacity Development program that trains Iraqi civil servants in modern management and places advisors in key ministries to provide technical assistance to improve day-to-day operations. To better support these efforts, the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) transitioned to the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) on 10 May 2007.
  • Provincial Government Capacity Development. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) were formed to assist Iraq's provincial governments in developing a transparent and sustained capability to govern. On January 10, 2007, President Bush announced that the USG would double the number of PRTs in Iraq from 10 to 20. Initially staffed primarily by Department of Defense personnel, the first members of these new PRTs deployed to Iraq on March 31, 2007, and full staffing is expected by July 2007. These teams are crafting action plans jointly with brigade commanders to better synchronize civil-military efforts.
  • Rule of Law. Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), drawing on support from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Department of State (DoS), has established the Law and Order Task Force (LAOTF) to accelerate the Iraqi capacity for independent, evidence-based, and transparent investigation and trial of major crimes in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI). The CCCI, which was created in June 2003 by the Coalition Provisional Authority to try terrorismand insurgency-related cases, has been a successful venue for major crimes prosecutions. MNF-I is also establishing a Rule of Law Complex (ROLC) in Baghdad to provide a secure location combining police, courts, forensic labs and corrections functions, and judicial housing and detention facilities.
  • Infrastructure Integrity. The Energy Fusion Cell (EFC), which reached initial operational capacity during this reporting period, is intended to combine currently disparate organizations into a single staff charged with synchronizing, planning and executing activities designed to develop and preserve the integrity of the Iraqi energy infrastructure. The EFC will better enable Iraq's ministries, MNF-I, and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to identify, plan, and execute all infrastructure security and repair efforts in a coordinated manner. The EFC planning staff will have direct contact with the relevant Iraqi ministries and Coalition organizations, with operations executed by a forward cell located in the Strategic Operations Cell at Headquarters, MNF-I. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) is an active participant, with the remaining ministries expected to be fully integrated by the end of May 2007.
  • Counter-Corruption Efforts. The United States is working with the World Bank and other international institutions to support the three primary anti-corruption institutions in Iraq: the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), the Board of Supreme Audit (BSA), and the inspectors general (IGs) within the government ministries. The goal of Coalition efforts is to help these organizations more effectively reduce corruption. The United States is also supporting the establishment of a Joint Anti-Corruption Council (JACC) to coordinate counter-corruption efforts among the CPI, BSA and IGs, along with other parts of the Iraqi government.

Rule of Law

Promoting the rule of law and institutions that serve its development is central to helping the GoI develop strong democratic institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis. While several Coalition-supported initiatives are moving forward, strengthening the rule of law requires a sustained, long-term effort. Problems persist. For example, Iraqi judges frequently face death threats and attacks. In the past two and a half years, 24 judges have been assassinated. Some judges decline to try cases related to terrorism or the insurgency because of intimidation and security concerns. As a result, in some provinces very few serious criminal cases result in convictions. MNF-I and local PRTs are working with Iraqi judges to reinvigorate criminal courts in areas where these courts have been reluctant to try terrorism and major crimes cases. For example, MNF-I and PRTs are coordinating transportation for CCCI judges from Baghdad to Major Crimes Courts with enhanced security. In Ninewa Province, these efforts have reduced the backlog of cases and enhanced the provincial government's authority and credibility. The Higher Juridical Council (HJC) and the CCCI support using transported judges in Salah ad Din, Diyala, and Anbar.

There is some good news. On April 2, the first judicial proceeding at the ROLC was conducted before an Iraqi investigative judge. Since then, nine Iraqi judges and a staff of 15 support personnel have been appointed to permanently staff the new court (now officially known as the "Central Criminal Court of Iraq at Rusafa"). Seven of the judges and their families have taken up residency in the secure living compound located only a few hundred yards from the courthouse. Twelve Iraqi Police investigators, all recent graduates of a six-week FBI training course, have been selected to serve as members of the LAOTF and will also live within the residential compound. The Department of Defense (DoD) has assigned a total of 67 judge advocates, paralegals, investigators, and intelligence officers to the LAOTF, the first of whom will arrive in Iraq on May 15, 2007. The Department of Justice has agreed to staff the LAOTF Director and two trial attorney positions. The first trial before the permanent three-judge court in the new ROLC court facility is tentatively scheduled for May 27, 2007, and the LAOTF is expected to be fully capable by July. Multi- National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I) and Embassy-based programs also are strengthening the Iraqi Major Crimes Unit and the Iraqi Major Crimes Task Force, respectively. MNSTC-I and the MoI are also adding about 4,000 forensic specialists to the police force.

As a result of FAQ, the number of persons held in detention in March and April was nearly 20% higher than the monthly average for December through February. Consequently, the U.S. is working with the Iraqi government to increase short-term detention capacity by constructing facilities that will hold an additional 6,000 beds by mid- September 2007. In addition, detainee abuse is a problem in Iraqi pre-trial detention facilities run by both MoI and MoD. MoJ's pretrial detention facilities and post-trial prisons generally meet international standards but are overcrowded. To help relieve overcrowding at MoD and MoI pre-trial detention facilities as well as "jump-start" the criminal justice process, the HJC is sending teams of investigative judges, judicial investigators, prosecutors, and legal clerks to detention facilities to perform a judicial review of detentions required by Iraqi law. As part of broader efforts to improve the capability of the Iraqi Corrections Service (ICS), U.S. advisors encourage the MoJ to increase the salaries of corrections officers to a level equal to that of the Iraqi Police to attract more qualified personnel and reduce corruption.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

PRTs are a mainstay of U.S. efforts to build the capacity of Iraq's local, municipal, and provincial governments to deliver goods and services to the Iraqi people, given the limited capacity of the central government to do so. PRTs continue to work closely with the central government in Baghdad while extending and expanding efforts to help local communities and leaders transition to selfsufficiency. PRTs are an interagency effort. As part of the New Way Forward, the USG has doubled the number of PRTs to 20, embedding the new PRTs into Brigade Combat Teams and is increasing the total number of personnel from roughly 290 to over 600. For example, during the reporting period, DoD assisted DoS by identifying over 100 personnel to staff the increased PRTs on an interim basis. DoD is providing just under 90% of initial staffing of the new PRTs as of this reporting period. The first portion of these teams deployed during this period and developed plans for their assigned areas. The remaining personnel will deploy by mid-July. Replacement of the DoD interim personnel by longer-term DoS contracted personnel is pending passage of supplemental funding for State.

PRTs attempt to bolster moderates, promote reconciliation, support counterinsurgency efforts, foster economic development, and build capacity at the provincial and local levels to improve Iraqi project planning and execution. Through targeted assistance, PRTs foster Iraqi self-sufficiency and help integrate the central government and the provincial governments where security gains have been made. In addition, the PRT program provides technical expertise at the regional and local levels to assist Provincial Councils with budget formulation and execution. PRTs will continue to play a leading role in coordinating U.S. programs, including Iraqi Provincial Reconstruction Development Councils and USAID's local governance, community stabilization, economic development, and community action programs.

Transnational Issues

Promoting support for Iraq from its neighbors, the region, and the international community; ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq; and limiting destructive Iranian and Syrian activity in Iraq are important U.S. objectives. There have been some positive developments, including the May 3-4, 2007 meetings Egypt hosted for the International Compact with Iraq and the Iraq Neighbors Ministerial. Iran and Syria, however, continued to support lethal and unlawful activities in Iraq during this reporting period. Prime Minister Maliki publicly criticized Iran for providing deadly support to Iraqi militias and Syria for providing safe haven to some Iraqi insurgents, especially former regime elements.

Neighbors Conference

Prime Minister Maliki intensified his efforts to engage Iraq's neighbors through a series of neighbors conferences that established working groups on border security, refugees, and energy. An initial meeting at the subministerial level took place in Baghdad on March 10, and Egypt hosted the first ministerial-level Neighbors Conference at Sharm el-Sheikh on May 4, 2007. All of Iraq's neighbors, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and G-8 members participated. The ministers-level meeting focused on the obligations of all parties to assist in efforts to bring security and stability to Iraq. These efforts to engage Iraq's neighbors are particularly important because of the long history of social interaction and religious association within the region that transcends modern national boundaries. In the wake of this successful conference, the GoI is scheduling a follow-on Neighbors Conference, as well as meetings of the group to address specific regional problems. Diplomatic relations need further improvement, however. For example, as of this report, nine of the 22 Arab League states still lack a diplomatic presence in Baghdad, and only one is represented at the Ambassadorial level, in part reflecting concerns of Sunni Arab states about the regional implications of a Shi'a-led Iraqi government.

International Compact

The International Compact with Iraq provides a five-year framework for Iraq to achieve financial sustainability through economic reform commitments between it and the international community. This GoI initiative, co-chaired with the United Nations (UN), commits Iraq to reforming its economy, establishing new investment laws and regulations, building the institutions needed to combat corruption, ensuring good governance, and protecting human rights. In return, members of the international community commit to supporting these efforts through financial, technical, and administrative assistance, as well as through forgiveness of Iraq's external debt.3 The Compact was formally launched on May 3, 2007 in Egypt. More than 70 countries, 30 of which were represented at a ministerial level, attended the signing conference. Participating countries at the Compact meeting agreed to follow Paris Club guidelines and made commitments to undertake potentially more than US$30 billion in debt relief.

Iranian Influence

Various Shi'a and Kurdish politicians maintain longstanding relationships with Iranian officials and state organizations, and Iran maintains longstanding economic and religious ties to Iraq. The Iranians likely seek a Shi'a dominated Iraqi government that is deferential to and supportive of Iranian interests. The Iranian regime's primary tool for exercising clandestine influence in Iraq is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Qods Force (QF), which provides arms, intelligence, funds, training, and propaganda support to Iraqi Shi'a militants targeting and killing Coalition and Iraqi forces, as well as Iraqi civilians. The QF seeks to increase long-term Iranian strategic influence in Iraq and the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Among the weapons it provides to Iraqi militants are improvised explosive devices (IEDs), advanced IED technologies (including explosively formed projectiles (EFPs)), and rockets and mortars used for indirect fire attacks.

U.S. forces in Iraq are acting to disrupt any network-regardless of nationality-that provides weapons to Iraqi militants and insurgents. These actions are consistent with the mandate granted to the MNF-I by both the UN Security Council and the GoI to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of Iraq's security and stability, as well as defense. The USG has urged Iran to play a more constructive role in Iraq.

Syrian Influence

Syria seeks to maintain ties with the New Ba'ath Party in Iraq and to hasten the withdrawal of Coalition forces from the region. Syria has emerged as an important organizational and coordination hub for elements of the former Iraqi regime, allowing these groups to engage in activities hostile to our efforts from within Syrian borders. Although Damascus has made some recent improvements in combating cross-border terrorist movements by arresting insurgents it considers a threat to its own internal security, terrorists and foreign fighters continue to find sanctuary, border transit opportunities, and logistical support in Syria.

Tensions on the Border with Turkey

Turkey's primary concerns regarding Iraq continue to be terrorism executed by the Kurdistan Peoples Congress (KGK, formerly PKK) and the final status of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Public disagreements between Turkish and Kurdish leaders have strained relations between Turkey and Iraq and continued KGK terrorism in Turkey (along with heightened civil-military tensions in Turkey as it approaches national elections in July) are likely to increase those strains. The U.S. Special Envoy for Countering the KGK continues to engage Turkish and Iraqi counterparts to increase cooperation against the terrorist threat from the KGK. Progress has been made toward a tripartite agreement on closing down Makhmour refugee camp, which will eliminate a potential haven for KGK propaganda and influence on young Turkish Kurds.

Tensions in Kirkuk have nevertheless increased in recent months. According to Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, a referendum must be held on the final status of Kirkuk by the end of 2007. Turkoman and Arab communities' concern over increased Kurdish control of Kirkuk's governing institutions has led Turkey to speak out on behalf of the Turkoman community in protest of the perceived Kurdish goal of independence.


Strong democratic institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis are critical to Iraq's success. The GoI appears to be committed to making progress on the key legislation and economic reforms intended to facilitate national reconciliation. To date, however, progress has been inhibited by the unwillingness of the various factions in the CoR to compromise on key issues. Reconciliation and the further development of democratic institutions will require more effort. Central to the U.S. support of these efforts are the PRTs. Through building capacity at the provincial and local levels to improve Iraqi governance, PRTs promote reconciliation and strengthen democratic institutions. The launching of the International Compact with Iraq this quarter highlights the progress Iraq has made at attaining support from the regional and international community. Efforts to build regional and international support for the reintegration of Iraq into the region and world economy will require continued intense focus.

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