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Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq

September 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

During this reporting period, Iraqi political leaders made little progress on critical issues such as revising the Iraqi constitution and on key legislation intended to promote national reconciliation. The New Way Forward that President Bush announced in January 2007 puts greater emphasis on the diplomatic, political, and economic steps to be pursued along with security operations to bring about stability and security in Iraq. The focus remains on intensified efforts to protect the population and secure turbulent areas to give Iraqis political space to implement reforms and pursue reconciliation. These efforts are not intended to substitute for increased Iraqi responsibility for managing its affairs, but to support its ability to do so. National polls show that most Iraqis continue to believe that Iraq should remain a unified state; only one third1 of Iraqi people say that they would be better off if the country were divided into three or more regions that better reflected ethnic or sectarian populations, and those who most strongly oppose division are found in the regions of greatest sectarian mixing. Those areas with the strongest sectarian homogeneity (northern and southern Iraq) are most interested in division. Continued violence, however, reinforces sectarian tensions that undermine reconciliation. Moreover, Iraqi political leaders remain wedded to their constituencies and are increasingly uncertain about expending political capital on the necessary compromises to foster reconciliation. Iraqi political divisions were further complicated in July by the withdrawal of the Sunni Tawafuq bloc's ministers and parliamentarians from the Iraqi government. Locally generated accommodations and limited immunity are creating the most positive options for bridging sectarian lines, as national leaders are only now beginning to realize the potential these offer towards political stability on a larger scale. However, in the short term, Iraqi political leaders will likely be less concerned about reconciliation than with consolidating power and posturing for a future power struggle.

National Reconciliation

National reconciliation is an essential element for long-term stability in a representative Iraq. Despite security improvements during this reporting period, political reconciliation has shown little progress. Major impediments include a developing political system and inherent distrust due to Saddam's rule; this is a continuing challenge to political leaders as they consider reconciliation options. To advance reconciliation, the U.S. Government is working with the Government of Iraq to promote both "topdown" as well as "bottom-up" efforts. "Top-down" efforts focus on passage of key legislation intended to foster reconciliation, and establishment of the Iraqi Follow-on Committee for National Reconciliation to focus on reconciliation policy, but little progress has occurred overall on top-down reconciliation this quarter. "Bottom-up" reconciliation efforts include the expanded Provincial Reconstruction Team efforts to promote local and provincial capacity development and near-term economic initiatives. A central focus is to transcend regional, sectarian, and tribal divisions by bringing reconcilable elements into a process of accommodation and by isolating irreconcilable groups. Iraq's major sectarian groups are making some effort to overcome divisions. For example, the response to the June 13, 2007 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra included unified statements from various leaders condemning the act and calling for calm. Despite these efforts for national reconciliation, non-Muslim minorities such as Christians and Yezidis are especially vulnerable in Iraq's current violent climate, causing some to flee to neighboring countries.

Political Commitments

The consensus nature of Iraqi politics, the checks and balances built into the system of Iraqi governance, and the zero-sum mentality of Iraqi political leaders has hindered, and at times prevented, progress on key legislation. The Council of Representatives (CoR) continues to miss Iraqi constitutional and legislative deadlines. As of this reporting period, the Presidency Council and the Prime Minister have not achieved consensus on key controversial issues, but negotiations continue. Iraq's Council of Representatives-which had previously planned a two-month recess- voted on July 8 to extend the term through July 31 and for working sessions to last six days a week from July 16 through July 31. The subsequent resignation of six Sunni ministers from the Tawafuq bloc and the Iraqi National list bloc has complicated efforts to reach consensus among Iraq's three major ethno-religious groups on key issues. The August 26, 2007 Leaders' Conference among the top Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish leaders produced an encouraging outcome. The participants issued a communiqué that contained Prime Minister Maliki's agreement to consult more with Sunni and Kurdish leaders; a general agreement on a way forward on de- Ba'athification reform and Provincial Powers legislation; and acknowledgment of the importance of the presence of the Multinational Forces. The CoR will begin a new session in early September to attempt to work toward accommodation on important legislation, although little further progress is expected during the mid-September through mid-October Ramadan season. Key legislation includes:

A Package of Hydrocarbon Laws.

This package is intended to enable all Iraqis to benefit from the nation's petroleum resources and to attract investment to the oil sector. A basic framework law and three supporting implementing laws are required to manage revenues, to re-organize the Oil Ministry, and to establish an Iraq National Oil Company. In practice, the GoI is already providing much of the hydrocarbon revenue to the citizens of Iraq through ministry and provincial programs. While the distribution of the revenues has been uneven, it nonetheless demonstrates that, absent formal legislation, the positive effects sought in the national legislation are being achieved. The Council of Ministers (CoM) approved the Hydrocarbon Framework Law on July 2, 2007, and submitted it to the Council of Representatives, but without Tawafuq approval. The GoI and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have continued to debate the latest draft of the Framework Law; the Kurds maintain that the draft that emerged from the CoR in July has undergone substantive changes from the Shura Council document agreed to in February. The Chair of the CoR's Oil and Gas Committee said on July 8 that there would not be a first reading of the draft in the legislature until the Kurds and Shi'a agree on a draft. The Shi'a coalition in the parliament and the KRG have reached an agreement on the final text for the Revenue Management Law, which must now be approved by the CoM. The parties continue to negotiate. Meanwhile, on August 6, the KRG parliament unanimously approved an autonomous region's oil law, signaling that the Kurds are moving forward with their own petroleum policy as Iraq's federal oil plans lag.

A De-Ba'athification Law.

De-Ba'athification reform remains politically sensitive as it involves competing conceptions of justice, accountability, reconciliation, and economic compensation. Although Prime Minister Maliki and President Talabani signed a cover letter in March 2007 affirming political support for a draft de-Ba'athification law, reaching consensus and compromise is proving difficult. Shi'a parties believe, for example, that the current package contains inadequate compensation for Shi'a victims of Ba'athism. The Council of Ministers recently approved a draft law incorporating the ideas of both Vice Presidents and supported by the Prime Minister. That draft is currently in the State Council for review. Passage of the new draft could take time because compromise will still be necessary, and a law that is not broadly supported would adversely affect prospects for reconciliation. The recent Iraqi Leaders' Conference included a way forward on de- Ba'athification reform although work remains to be done on the details. It is too early to tell if this agreement will lead to the speedy enactment of this important law. Despite the delay in enactment of national de-Ba'athification legislation, there is still a significant amount of outreach to Sunnis, and this outreach had led to increased volunteerism on the part of the Sunni community to fight al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), to serve under the democratically elected central government, and to provide former government officials pensions. While these efforts would have been better executed under formal de-Ba'athification legislation, these local efforts create a similar effect.

A Constitutional Review.

Iraq's Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) began work on November 15, 2006 on recommendations for amendments to the Constitution. On May 23, 2007, the CRC described the elements of a "semi-final" report to the CoR that spells out the nature of the committee's work and outstanding issues, and requested an extension for its final report, given that it missed its May 15 deadline. On June 23, 2007, the CoR voted to extend the deadline to the end of September. The outstanding issues reflect longstanding political disagreements among the CoR's political blocs on Presidential powers, the powers of the regions versus the central government, and the status of disputed territories including Kirkuk under Article 140 of the Constitution. Progress on Article 140 has not occurred as normalization- the compensation of Arabs willing to leave Kirkuk and the adjustment of provincial boundaries changed under the Saddam regime-is proceeding slowly, with the first group of Arab families resettled in June. There has been no progress on the constitutionally required census and referendum. The Kurds continue to push for reinvigoration of the stalled process but the Sunni Arabs and Turkomen continue to boycott the city council and object to unilateral Kurdish actions to control local governance and security.

Provincial Election and Powers Laws.

Drafting a law that sets the date for provincial and local elections has been delayed until the September 2007 legislative session. Although Prime Minister Maliki has stated that Provincial Iraqi elections will be held in 2007, it is now unlikely that they will occur until at least March 2008. As of this reporting period, candidate lists for Governorate Electoral Officer for nine of the eighteen Governorates had been submitted to the CoR and forwarded to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). Prime Minister Maliki's office continues to work on a Provincial Election Law but has yet to release a draft. The U.S. Embassy continued engagement efforts to advance this issue. The IHEC, which was established on April 28, 2007, continues to focus on resolving logistical and security issues. The IHEC has agreed to purchase the Public Distribution System database from the Ministry of Trade used for nationwide food rationing and will convert these data to a voter registration database, a key prerequisite for provincial elections. In cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the U.S. Government is providing program support to the new IHEC in three areas: building staff capacity, particularly in public outreach and internal organization; building database capacity that will support new registration; and establishing provincial, district, and precinct-level election bodies. A Provincial Powers Law that defines the relationship between provincial governments and the central government has been read twice in the CoR. This law is not required for local or provincial elections, although the GoI reportedly intends to implement it before provincial elections are held. The recent Iraqi Leaders' Conference resulted in agreement on pressing ahead with Provincial Powers legislation but details have yet to be worked out. The lack of a budget for elections as well as the large number of internally displaced persons- about two million-complicates the holding of elections.

Government Reform

During this quarter, the U.S. Government continued to expand efforts to assist Iraqi governmental reform through development of ministerial capacity and through engagement by Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) with provincial and local governments to build capacity, energy infrastructure integrity, rule of law, and counter-corruption efforts. These efforts aim to help the GoI build strong democratic institutions that impartially serve all Iraqis, foster conditions for national reconciliation, and transcend regional, sectarian and tribal divisions.

Ministerial Capacity Development

Iraqi ministries responsible for delivery of basic services require significant improvement in their ability to fund, manage and implement projects. This will require additional assistance to build ministerial capacity through efforts of advisors and trainers. These efforts are supported by the State Department's Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) and the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) National Capacity Development program, which trains Iraqi civil servants in modern management and places advisors in key ministries to provide technical assistance to improve day-to-day operations. USAID's three-year, US$165 million program supports multiple training programs in project management, leadership skills, procurement, English, and budgeting and budget process management. US$65 million has been obligated to date.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

PRTs are a mainstay of decentralized U.S. efforts to build the capacity of Iraq's local, municipal, and provincial governments to deliver goods and services to the Iraqi people. The establishment of ten new Embedded PRTs (ePRTs), which represents the civilian side of the "surge," is a key component of the President's New Way Forward. The ePRTs are now partnered with Brigade and Regimental Combat Teams and are engaging local Iraqi leaders in government, business, and civil society. As the first ePRT personnel deployed less than five months ago, it is too soon to assess their overall impact.2 Early reports are encouraging; PRTs played a significant and positive role in the reopening of a granary in Baqubah, increasing the local employment opportunities and the availability of food.

The Ninewa PRT helped establish the Mosul branch of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) to adjudicate terrorism cases. Since the Court opened, 173 cases have been tried, resulting in 96 convictions and 77 acquittals. The Baghdad PRT assisted the Provincial Reconstruction Development Committee to approve 68 infrastructure projects worth US$110M. As of July 2007, 42 projects valued at US$81M have been awarded for the construction. The Anbar PRT helped reconnect broken lines of communication between the central Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Anbar provincial government. The Governor is now able to directly advocate for the needs of his province with the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, and executive branch leaders. Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) has requested four new ePRTs for the Baghdad area and another one for Wasit Province, indicating the importance that military commanders place on having additional interagency support to complement security operations.

Rule of Law

During this reporting period, Coalition and Iraqi efforts to build the judiciary showed considerable improvement. The Law and Order Task Force (LAOTF) established by Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), drawing on support from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of State (DoS), is assisting the efforts to develop Iraqi capacity for independent, evidence-based, and transparent investigation and trial of terrorism and other major crimes in the CCCI.3 The Rule of Law Complex (ROLC) that the GoI and MNF-I established in Baghdad earlier this year became fully operational during this reporting period and is now conducting trials. Iraqi judges have generally been professional, reliable, nonsectarian partners in the effort to return the rule of law to Iraq and are favorably viewed by most Iraqis. However, 31 of Iraq's approximately 1,100 judges have been assassinated during the last three years, contributing to low rates of prosecution of terrorist-related cases. The United States continues to support efforts to work with the Higher Juridical Council (HJC) on programs to address the growing problems associated with local intimidation of the Iraqi judiciary. Since the last report, the HJC has begun directing Judicial Review Teams (JRTs) on its own initiative, frequently without Coalition logistic or security support, to overcrowded detention facilities in and around Baghdad. In addition, Coalition advisors are assisting in the establishment of Major Crimes Courts (MCC), modeled on the CCCI concept in several provinces such as in Hillah and Basrah, to assist in prosecution of local cases with permanently assigned judges who hear cases. Another MCC in Mosul is staffed by "circuit riders" from CCCI Baghdad who visit Mosul periodically to hear cases. Since its establishment in December 2006, four panels have tried approximately 200 cases resulting in almost 100 convictions including 20 death sentences and over 30 life sentences. In July 2007, the fifth panel of judges visited Mosul. In addition, MCCs in Tikrit, Kirkuk and Kirkush are being established and should begin hearing cases this year.

Recent improvements in the security situation in Anbar Province appear to be helping to reinvigorate its criminal justice system. Since the last report, Anbar Investigative Judges have resumed reviewing criminal cases. In addition, a JRT visited Fallujah in June to review cases and ordered 259 detainees to remain in detention pending additional investigation, referring another six cases to trial. Planning continues to identify an appropriate location for a newly authorized Anbar MCC to convene trials in August.

Infrastructure Integrity

The Energy Fusion Cell (EFC) is attempting to facilitate coordination among Iraqi ministries to improve the protection of Iraq's critical infrastructure, which is important to increasing the supply of essential services such as electricity. Participation by the key Iraqi ministries remains inconsistent.

Counter-Corruption Efforts

U.S. advisors continued to work with the World Bank and other international institutions to support Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), Board of Supreme Audit (BSA), and the Inspectors General (IGs) within the government ministries. On May 16, 2007 Prime Minister Maliki, representatives of the Council of Ministers, the High Court, the BSA, the CPI, and the IGs signed a charter for a new GoI council to advise the Prime Minister on ways to promote the rule of law and fight corruption. The charter is a commitment by the GoI to increase intra-Iraqi government cooperation in fighting corruption. In addition, on July 19, the Council of Ministers ratified the 2004 UN Convention Against Corruption.

Transnational Issues

During this reporting period, the United States continued to encourage support for Iraq by its neighbors, the region, and the international community. The primary concern is ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq and eliminating negative Iranian and Syrian activity in Iraq. Efforts to build on the success of the May 3-4, 2007 meetings that Egypt hosted for the International Compact with Iraq and the Iraq Neighbors Ministerial, such as working group meetings among countries in the region on energy and refugee issues, show some progress. Iran and Syria, however, continued to support lethal and unlawful activities in Iraq during this reporting period.

Neighbors Conference Follow-up

Building on the momentum established by the May Neighbors Conference, regional working groups formed at the conference have begun their activities. Turkey hosted the Energy Working Group June 28-29, 2007. Jordan hosted the Refugee Working Group on July 26, 2007 to expand assistance to the estimated two million Iraqi refugees in the region and announced that Iraqi refugee children would be admitted to Jordanian public schools regardless of the residency status of their parents. At a related conference on Iraqi Refugee Health held in Damascus July 29-30, Jordan and Syria reaffirmed their commitment to providing primary and emergency health care to Iraqi refugees in their countries. Syria hosted a Border Security Working Group in Damascus on August 8-9, 2007 and granted observer status to all P5 members (Five permanent members of the UN Security Council). Saudi Arabia's recent announcement that it will assess whether to reopen its Embassy in Baghdad could complement progress in Neighbors Conference follow-up activity.

International Compact with Iraq

Since the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) was launched on May 3, 2007, a Secretariat for monitoring progress on some 400 follow-up actions under the ICI has been established. The director of the ICI Secretariat has created a database to track the status of these actions.4 The World Bank is providing technical assistance to set up the database, and donor nations have been instructed to provide inputs about how their programs support the ICI action items. On July 20, the first progress report was presented at the UN, finding that Iraq is making progress with more than two-thirds of its ICI goals. Representatives of more than 70 countries participated in the review session; many reconfirmed their assistance or debt relief commitments.

Iranian Influence

There has been no decrease in Iranian training and funding of illegal Shi'a militias in Iraq that attack Iraqi and Coalition forces and civilians. Of particular concern are the assassinations of the Governors of Qadisiyah and Muthanna Provinces during August 2007 in improvised explosive device attacks believed to have been conducted by Iranian-influenced extremist groups. Tehran's support for these groups is one of the greatest impediments to progress on reconciliation. In meetings hosted by Prime Minister Maliki, the United States and Iran have held three rounds of talks on Iraq security since May 2007. On July 24, Ambassador Crocker met with his Iranian counterpart for trilateral security talks to discuss how the United States and Iran can help Iraq to improve conditions in the country, particularly security conditions. The U.S. delegation emphasized a number of specific concerns about Iranian behavior in Iraq, including its provision of weapons, funding, training, and guidance to militias that are fighting both the Iraqi and Coalition forces and killing innocent Iraqi civilians. Most of the explosives and ammunition used by these groups are provided by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). The recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq notes that Iran has been "intensifying aspects of its lethal support for select Shi'a militants" since at least the beginning of 2006 and notes that explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks have risen dramatically. For the period of June through the end of August, EFP events are projected to rise by 39% over the period of March through May. Ambassador Crocker made clear that IRGC-QF's lethal activities need to cease, and that Iraq and the Coalition would be looking for results. A security subcommittee subsequently met on August 6, 2007 in Baghdad as part of an ongoing effort to change Iranian behavior. To improve diplomatic relations between Iran and Iraq, Prime Minister Maliki made his second official visit to Iran in August to meet with Iranian leadership.

Syrian Influence

Terrorists and foreign fighters continue to find sanctuary, border transit opportunities, and logistical support in Syria. Syria has not made sufficient efforts to combat crossborder terrorist movements; it focuses on arresting only Iraq-bound terrorists who pose a threat to Syrian interests. Approximately 90% of suicide bombers in Iraq are foreign fighters, and most continue to use Syria as their main transit route to Iraq. This network funnels about 50 to 80 suicide bombers per month into Iraq to conduct operations. Since January, there have been nearly 280 suicide attacks, accounting for nearly 5,500 deaths, mostly of innocent Iraqi civilians. Additionally, Syria continues to serve as an organizational and coordination hub for elements of the former Iraqi regime.

Tensions on the Border with Turkey

Turkey's primary concerns regarding Iraq continue to be terrorism conducted by the Kurdistan Peoples Congress (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK)) from camps in northern Iraq, increased Kurdish autonomy from the Iraqi central government, and the final status of the oilrich city of Kirkuk. While tension rose prior to Turkey's July 22 parliamentary election, the Iraqi-Turkish relationship is marked by continued, albeit sporadic, diplomatic efforts. In August, Prime Minister Maliki accepted an invitation from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to visit Turkey. During the visit, Maliki and Erdogan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to end the presence of the KGK in Iraq and Maliki declared the KGK a terrorist organization for the first time. Turkey has also hosted the Neighbors Conference working group on energy, and participates in the border security and refugee working groups.


Improved security and stability is not enough to win the counterinsurgency. Political progress must also be achieved to reinforce and complement progress in securing the Iraqi population. There has been little national-level political progress in passing key legislation and implementing government reform. Efforts within Iraq's political process to seek consensus remain complicated by continued sectarian divisions and violence that exacerbates those divisions. The most promising developments are occurring at the local level through "bottom-up" reconciliation involving the development of local leaders and local governance capacity. Efforts to build regional and international support for the re-integration of Iraq into the region and world economy will require continued focus.

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