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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)

Executive Summary

This report to Congress, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, is submitted pursuant to Section 9010 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2007, Public Law 109-289. The report includes specific performance indicators and measures of progress toward political, economic, and security stability in Iraq, as directed in that legislation. This is the eighth in a series of reports on this subject. The most recent report was submitted in March 2007. The report complements other reports and information about Iraq provided to Congress and is not intended as a single source of all information about the combined efforts or the future strategy of the United States, its Coalition partners, or Iraq.

The strategic goal of the United States in Iraq remains a united Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror. This report measures progress toward- and setbacks from-achieving this goal during this reporting period. Although the objectives have not changed, the strategy and tactics for achieving them have been modified and will continue to adapt to an evolving situation. The United States and its Coalition partners remain committed to help the Iraqi people assume full responsibility for their country.

The New Way Forward

On January 10, 2007, the President announced the New Way Forward. The period covered in this report (February 2007 to May 2007) saw a greatly increased effort to secure turbulent areas to give Iraqis political space to implement reforms and pursue reconciliation among competing factions1. While some analysts see a growing fragmentation of Iraq, most Iraqis continue to believe that Iraq should remain a unified state. The democratically elected Iraqi government is taking the lead in devising its own strategy and is committed to significant political, economic, and military steps intended to further reconciliation. It is too soon to assess results. Positive indicators include a decrease in civilian murders and sectarian violence in Baghdad and in total attacks in Anbar Province, while negative indicators include the rise of high-profile attacks and expanded use of explosively formed projectiles.

In support of the New Way Forward, Operation Fardh al-Qanoon2 (FAQ) was launched on February 14, 2007, with an increased emphasis on population security in Baghdad as its primary focus. Iraqi and Coalition forces have increased force levels and instituted new security measures to protect the population and improve the legitimacy of the Iraqi forces. Four of five planned additional U.S. Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are currently in place; the fifth will be fully deployed and operational by late June 2007. Three additional Iraqi Army brigades completed their 90-day deployments in Baghdad, and one has been extended until mid-summer. Additional Iraqi brigades have been alerted and are moving to support operations in Baghdad.

Although it is premature to judge whether FAQ is creating the conditions necessary for political reconciliation, early indications are that sectarian killings have declined, especially in Baghdad; vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) found and cleared comprised roughly 69% of all VBIED incidents; and national confidence in the Government of Iraq's (GoI) ability to improve the security environment reached its highest level (63%) in twelve months. In another somewhat encouraging development, Sunni tribal resistance to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) along the Euphrates River Valley has been growing and-combined with a robust Coalition presence in Fallujah and Ramadi and increased effectiveness of Iraqi forces-is hindering AQI operations. However, local Sunni cooperation with and support to Coalition forces in Anbar Province is not uniform. As a result of this tribal resistance, violence in Anbar decreased markedly during the reporting period. However, terrorist attacks increased in other areas as AQI and other groups attempted to spread sectarian conflict.

As for the status of Iraqi security forces, the United States, its Coalition partners and the Iraqi Government continued to expand the size and capability of the Iraqi forces to meet emerging requirements. As of May 14, 2007, approximately 346,500 Iraqi personnel received training and equipment. Given the persistence of the violence by insurgents, terrorists and militias, the Iraqi forces will require continued training, development and equipping to be able to progressively assume missions from Coalition forces. Some of the main areas being addressed to increase the Iraqi forces' capabilities include reform of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) forces, development of Ministry of Defense (MoD) and MoI logistics and administrative capabilities, development of combat enablers for the military forces and development of junior leaders.

On the political front, the United States and its Coalition partners are working with the GoI to safeguard gains and to develop strong institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis. Key legislative or reconciliation actions-such as the Hydrocarbon Law, de-Ba'athification reform, and Article 140 (Kirkuk)-were not completed during this reporting period, although progress was made. Encouraging efforts include the selection of the High Electoral Commission and the continuation of work on constitutional reform. During this period, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) were doubled to enhance local and provincial administrative capacity. Reconciliation remains a serious unfulfilled objective.

While significant challenges remain, several positive economic developments emerged. The most significant was the launch in Egypt on May 3, 2007 of the International Compact with Iraq to help Iraq gain assistance and debt relief contingent on political and economic reforms. Additionally, the Central Bank of Iraq made progress in reducing price inflation, and GoI statistics show a slight improvement in employment. The International Monetary Fund found satisfactory Iraqi performance to date under the Standby Arrangement. However, oil production, the principal economic driver in Iraq, is not growing and remained at about the same levels as during this period in 2006 due to poor infrastructure and inadequate security. Additional efforts will be needed to build the capacity of Iraqi ministries and provinces to execute their capital investment budgets, particularly for the oil sector, which is the key to supporting economic development. The Department of Defense continued to help the GoI revitalize certain state-owned enterprises to increase employment and make them more attractive for privatization.

Overall, it is too early to assess the impact of the new approach. For the period covered by this report, the additional forces to support the new approach were not fully in place, and those that were had only a limited time to conduct operations. In addition, new initiatives such as enhanced PRTs and focused efforts to improve GoI budget execution and rule of law remain in their initial stages. On the political front, reconciliation is a top priority. Economically, further provision of goods and services by the GoI that benefit the Iraqi population is required. Progress will depend on Iraqi follow-through on their commitments made as part of the new approach; the actions of insurgents, militia and terrorists to disrupt reconciliation will be a key challenge to the Iraqi government's ability to fulfill its commitments.

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