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Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

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


This report to Congress, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, is being submitted pursuant to Section 9010 of the U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2007, Public Law 109-289.1 The report includes specific performance indicators and measures of progress toward political, economic, and security stability in Iraq, as mandated in the above-referenced legislation. This is the seventh in a series of reports on this subject. The previous report was submitted in November 2006.

The strategic goal of the United States for Iraq remains a unified, democratic, federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and that is an ally in the war on terror. One year ago, as described in the February 2006 edition of this series of reports, the Iraqi people were on their way to achieving these goals. The national constitutional referendum and elections in 2005 were victories for the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, these positive events were followed by a series of attacks that initiated a cycle of sectarian violence, undermined political gains, and challenged the Government of Iraq (GOI). To regain the initiative, the GOI is working with the United States and its Coalition partners, embarking on a new approach to restore the confidence of the Iraqi people in their government; to build strong security institutions capable of securing domestic peace and defending Iraq from outside aggression; and to gain support for Iraq among its neighbors, the region, and the international community.

Improving the security situation in the capital city of Baghdad is a central component of the new approach. Baghdad is Iraq's center of gravity and its conditions drive conditions in other parts of the country. As sectarian violence in the capital increases, for example, so does support for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) among Sunnis and for the Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) among Shi'a. AQI and JAM remain the key actors in fueling sectarian violence- which has become the greatest impediment to the establishment of security and effective governance in Iraq. Both groups are attempting to establish strongholds and expand their zones of influence in the capital, with ordinary Iraqis getting squeezed in the middle and often fleeing for other parts of the country or leaving Iraq altogether. Any strategy for success must be designed to turn this trajectory around.

The strategic review commissioned by the President in November found that prior efforts to stabilize Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: the lack of adequate Iraqi and Coalition forces to hold areas cleared of terrorists and extremists and restrictive Iraqi rules of engagement that allowed Iraqi political interference in operations. Reinforcing the capital is an essential part of this endeavor. The President's new way forward extends beyond Baghdad and emphasizes a renewed diplomatic program, a better level of civilian and military integration, increased training of and embedding with Iraqi forces, and a commitment by Iraqi leaders to compromise on key components of reconciliation, including a new hydrocarbon law, genuine and credible local elections, constitutional review, and de- Ba'athification reform. All of these efforts must work in tandem and all relevant agencies in the U.S. Government must mobilize to do their part in order to maximize the chances for success. While the early signs are promising, it will be a period of months before we can measure with certainty whether the new approach is succeeding or requires further adjustments.

This report, like those preceding it, discusses measures of progress in political development, economic activity, and the security environment, noting the inextricable link between these areas and the Islamic, ethnic and tribal contexts that define Iraq as a state. This information predates the new approach and sets the frame around which the new approach was designed. The report should be read as a baseline from which to measure future progress, and indications of success must be heavily caveated given the dynamic situation in Iraq. The situation in Iraq cannot be measured by daily or weekly trends; it is trend lines over the course of months that help fill in a picture from isolated and anecdotal events.

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