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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)


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 ninth in a series of reports on this subject. The most recent report was submitted in June 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 unified, democratic Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror. This report measures progress towards, and setbacks from, achieving that goal during the reporting period (June through August 2007). This period saw full implementation of the New Way Forward during which all U.S. "surge" brigades and combat enablers became available to operate in Baghdad and surrounding areas. Despite the decision to temporarily increase force levels in Iraq to help the Iraqi government provide security to its population, it remains the policy of the United States and its Coalition partners to transition security responsibility to the Government of Iraq over time.

The final "surge" brigade deployed to Iraq in mid-June and quickly became part of the overall effort to provide increased population security in Baghdad and surrounding areas. Another 4,000 Marines also deployed to Anbar Province. With the full complement of forces available to commanders, offensive operations such as "Operation Phantom Thunder" seized the initiative to disrupt al Qaeda and militias operating in Baghdad and the surrounding "belts." Additionally, with increased force levels, Iraqi and Coalition forces were able to clear and hold tough neighborhoods in Baghdad, with a main effort focused on the East Rashid district. Three additional Iraqi Army brigades have remained in Baghdad to conduct security operations, a marked contrast from efforts in 2006 to improve Baghdad security when a number of Ministry of Defense units proved incapable of sustained deployment. The Iraqi military and police forces also showed their improved capabilities by successfully planning and executing security for the March of the 7th Imam pilgrimage to Baghdad in early August without incident.

As a result of these efforts, there are improvements in measures of security; for example, sectarian killings and civilian casualties have decreased. Other indicators, such as the ability to carry out functions of daily life (shopping in a market, taking children to school), also show some improvement. Since July, statistically significant trends in total attacks have emerged and have been sustained, which reflects a substantial improvement in overall security. Overall, there continues to be a downward trend in total attack incidents with eight of the past 11 weeks since June 15, 2007 showing decreases down to August 2006 levels. Sunni tribal resistance to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in western Iraq continues to complement Coalition efforts to force AQI out of areas it previously dominated. As a result, violence in Anbar continued to decrease markedly during the reporting period, and Iraqi citizens are increasingly providing information about insurgent operations to the Iraqi forces. In addition, the anti-AQI tribal movement has begun to spread beyond Anbar into other provinces to include the outer belts of Baghdad, Baqubah and Salah ad Din. This phenomenon has led to talks between Shi'a and Sunni tribal leaders, creating an opportunity for "bottomup reconciliation." For this reporting period, attacks against mosques such as the Samarra Mosque bombing on June 13 and the Al- Khailani Mosque bombing in Rusafa on June 19 failed to provoke widespread ethnosectarian violence. Such AQI operations are likely to continue.

Political progress is at a critical juncture. The consequences of the Iraqi government's previous indecisiveness and inaction include the loss of confidence by segments of the Iraqi public, and more importantly, the failure to invest in the emerging provincial reconciliation in Anbar and other areas by providing essential services that would secure the support of new groups as they enter the political process. The counterinsurgency operations associated with Operation Phantom Thunder have started to create the security conditions that will allow the Government of Iraq to implement reforms and pursue reconciliation initiatives. However, little political progress and reconciliation at the national level (as expressed in major legislative advances) occurred during this quarter. With the Iraqi parliament adjourning for August recess, followed closely by the Ramadan religious holiday period, key reconciliation legislation such as the Hydrocarbon Law, and progress on Article 140 (Kirkuk) will probably remain stalled in the near term. The recent Iraqi Leaders' Conference resulted in encouraging outcomes including a general agreement on a way forward on de- Ba'athification reform and Provincial Powers legislation, although work remains to be done on the details. Prospects for success in the near term hinge upon the return of key political blocs to the Maliki government. At the local and provincial levels, however, there are more indications of progress as tribal cooperation with the Coalition and the government has allowed numerous governance and economic initiatives to move forward. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), operating alongside their military counterparts, are helping to enhance local and provincial administrative capacity.

While security concerns remain the primary obstacle to economic growth, several positive developments have recently emerged during this period. In Sharm El- Sheikh, Egypt on May 3, more than 70 countries and international organizations endorsed the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), under which Iraq committed to comprehensive economic and governance reforms. On July 20, Iraq and the UN submitted their first ICI mid-year progress report, finding that Iraq is making progress on more than two-thirds of its ICI goals. On August 1, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed its fifth review of Iraq's performance under the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), in which most of the Directors praised the GoI's compliance with the SBA under such trying conditions, while at the same time voicing concerns about the lack of data provided by the Kurdish region. Additionally, the Central Bank of Iraq's tight monetary policy continued to largely mitigate the acceleration of the rate of inflation, though IMF staff recognizes that monetary tightening plays only a limited role in affecting inflation outcomes. The Department of Defense continued to help the GoI revitalize certain state-owned enterprises to increase employment and make them more attractive for privatization. Oil production, the principal economic driver in Iraq, remained at about the same levels as the last quarter due to poor infrastructure and inadequate security, though Iraq is projected to exceed its targeted revenues for the year. 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. There was some progress made in improving state-provided electricity, with Iraq's electricity plants reaching a record of 5,423 megawatts (MW) of peak power on August 21, in addition to 32 other days of power production over 5,000 MW since June 1.

As for the status of Iraqi security forces, this period saw further improvement in the maturation of the Army and, to a lesser degree, the police. 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 September 3, 2007, approximately 359,600 Iraqi personnel had received U.S.-funded training and equipment against a current train-and-equip authorization of 390,000. Given the persistence of violence by insurgents, terrorists and militias, the Iraqi forces will require additional force structure, continued training, seasoning and equipment to be able to assume missions from Coalition forces. Several factors will continue to hinder the development of a unified, nonsectarian force capable of independently providing security for the nation. Some of the areas being addressed to increase Iraqi force capabilities include the creation of additional units under PM Maliki's expansion plan, 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. However, Shi'a militia control over significant portions of southern Iraq and Baghdad competes with legitimate Iraqi forces for popular trust, and in some cases, causes increases in sectarian behavior by these security forces.

In summary, additional forces needed to implement the New Way Forward arrived in Iraq during this reporting period and the surge has, since mid-June, placed greater numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces that are focused on securing the population into areas of Iraq that had been without sufficient security force presence. Through synchronized operations, Coalition and Iraqi forces have established tactical and operational momentum, and are having a significant impact on the overall security situation. In cooperation with tribal leaders, progress is being made against AQI and Shi'a militias. New initiatives, such as enhanced PRTs embedded with Brigade Combat Teams, have begun to make progress at the local level, but challenges remain at the national level. The outcomes from securing the population and advancing the legislative agenda still depend, to a great degree, on the ability of the Iraqi government to promote an environment of reconciliation and trust.

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