Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq
Report to Congress
In accordance with the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2008
(Section 9010, Public Law 109-289)
Report to Congress
In accordance with the
Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2008
(Section 9010, Public Law 109-289)
Section 1-Stability and Security
1.3 Security Environment
While the surge has helped mitigate ethnosectarian tensions and restore stability to many areas, progress remains uneven and fragile. Violence levels vary throughout the country, and Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to confront numerous challenges. With the more recent exception of Basrah, Mosul and Sadr City, overall violence has followed a downward trend, with the greatest recent improvements in the Sunni majority areas of the northern provinces. Elsewhere, Coalition forces and the ISF continue to make incremental security gains, as the ISF grow in numbers, experience and capabilities. Coalition forces, with considerable help from the Sons of Iraq and tribal leaders, continue to combat al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), maintain a public presence as partners with the ISF and exert pressure on extremists and insurgents. The Iraqi people are responding to this improved security environment and increasingly rejecting indiscriminate violence and extremist ideology. Meanwhile, the ISF are progressively asserting GoI authority over militia extremists and insurgents in cities such as Najaf, Hillah, Nasiriyah, Basrah, Baghdad and elsewhere. The recent security operation in Basrah provided the GoI many constructive lessons. It also served as an important development in the government’s efforts to guarantee security for the Iraqi people.
Overall Assessment of the Security Environment
Improvements in the security environment have been substantial over the past nine months but significant challenges remain. The cumulative effect of Coalition and ISF efforts continues to shrink the areas in which AQI and its insurgent allies enjoy support and sanctuary. In a particularly noteworthy development, Iraqi forces launched clearing operations in Ninewa Province on May 10, 2008, that have disrupted AQI’s grip on Mosul. Nevertheless, AQI remains a dangerous and adaptable enemy that seeks to control areas where Coalition and Iraqi force presence is minimal. As AQI comes under increased pressure in Mosul, there have been indications that it is attempting to regroup along the upper Euphrates River. AQI also remains capable of high-profile attacks, though its indiscriminate targeting of civilians continues to alienate AQI from the mainstream Sunni population it claims to represent.
After an increase in attacks related to the late March 2008 activities in Basrah, Baghdad and other southern provinces, most key security indicators have trended downward, though many have yet to reach pre-March 2008 levels. Iraqwide, total monthly security incidents for April 2008 are comparable to the last months of 2007. Coalition and Iraqi efforts to solidify the security gains of the past year continue to gain momentum and manifest themselves not only in security, but also in the political and economic arenas. The ISF continues to grow, train and establish the rule of law in more Iraqi provinces and cities. The ISF also continues to demonstrate improved performance as it gains experience in independent operations.
The cumulative effect of Coalition and ISF efforts continues to shrink the areas in which AQI and its insurgent allies enjoy support and sanctuary.
Most indicators of violence fell continuously from September 2007 through mid-March 2008. However, on March 23, 2008, criminal elements of JAM launched multiple rockets on the International Zone, signaling impatience with the Sadr cease-fire. On March 25, 2008, Prime Minister Maliki launched Operation Saulat al-Fursan deploying nearly a division of ISF troops to the Basrah area.7 The intent of the operation was to wrest control of Basrah from JAM militias and their Special Group (SG) associates. As the operation evolved into a major conflict between ISF and JAM, first in Basrah and subsequently in Baghdad and other southern provinces, attacks and associated casualties rose sharply. By March 30, 2008, the ISF had restored security and freedom of movement in many areas, and a call by Muqtada al-Sadr for JAM forces to cease attacks on ISF and civilians led to further reductions in violence.
In addition to Basrah, the GoI and ISF achieved important gains against Shi’a extremists in Baghdad. As the ISF commenced operations in Basrah, JAM and SGs increased attacks against Coalition and Iraqi forces in Baghdad, to include launching multiple indirect fire attacks into the International Zone on an almost daily basis. Sadr’s cease-fire declaration on March 30, 2008, led to a brief lull. Violence levels soon rose again as JAM and SGs resisted Coalition and ISF operations to clear the southern two neighborhoods of Sadr City to diminish the effectiveness of rocket attacks on the International Zone and other parts of Baghdad. Supported by robust intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, Coalition forces effectively employed air weapons teams and armed Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to defeat indirect fire and rocket-propelled grenade launcher teams operating throughout Sadr City. Following negotiations between the United Iraqi Alliance and Sadrist officials, on May 20, 2008, the ISF conducted a largely unopposed entry into Sadr City and began to conduct clearing operations that are still underway. Coalition and Iraqi forces continue to combat illegal militias in additional neighborhoods in Baghdad and throughout southern Iraq.
Subversive foreign influences, primarily from Syria and Iran, continue to exert negative influence on the security environment in Iraq. The Syrian Government continues to take some steps, albeit ineffective ones, to reduce crossborder travel by some extremist fighters. Considerable numbers of foreign terrorists still cross from Syria into Iraq, and Iraqi extremists still use Syria as a safe haven to avoid Iraqi and Coalition forces. The Government of Iran also continues to facilitate large-scale trafficking of arms, ammunition and explosives and fund, train, arm and guide numerous networks that conduct wide-scale insurgency operations. The recent violence in Basrah and Baghdad highlighted the lethal role Iran’s IRGC-QF plays in Iraq. The number of EFPs and indirect fire incidents from Iranian-supplied rockets increased sharply in late March and April 2008. With increased emplacement of EFPs by SG criminal elements, total EFP incidents in April 2008 were the highest on record.
Though the recent improvements in the security situation across Iraq are significant, the Iraqi Government will have to take deliberate measures to sustain these gains. These measures include the development and employment of a sustained, robust security posture; delivery of humanitarian assistance; progress in reconstruction; and the generation of sustainable employment. Free and fair provincial elections will also be important in facilitating reconciliation and the formation of representative provincial governments. The Coalition is partnering with the GoI to assist the Iraqis in each of these areas.
Sons of Iraq
The Sons of Iraq (SoI) program continues to make essential contributions to security in Iraq. There are over 103,000 SoIs on temporary employment contracts working to help secure critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines, electrical power production and distribution facilities, financial institutions and other significant community facilities. SoI groups are also contributing greatly to the discovery of improvised explosive devices, weapons and explosives caches. The monthly number of caches found and cleared has declined since peaking in February 2008, but remains at a level greater than any time prior to December 2007. Coalition forces have already found more caches in 2008 than were found in all of 2006, largely due to SoI assistance.
The SoI program is a temporary security measure that addresses the immediate need of providing local security with local residents. As security has stabilized in certain areas, Coalition forces have begun transitioning loyal SoIs out of the program and into the ISF or vocational education programs. The Coalition is also transitioning the funding and management of remaining SoIs to the GoI. The three key components of the transition program include transferring temporary security contracts to the Ministry of Interior (MoI), transitioning SoIs to permanent security employment in the ISF and training SoIs for civilian employment. The transition of the temporary security contracts has begun with an initial consolidation of the U.S. CERP-funded contracts and turnover of program management and funding to the MoI. The first two security contracts will fully transition to the MoI in July 2008, when the GoI assumes funding responsibility. To date, 14,000 SoIs have transitioned into permanent security positions with the ISF and another 12,000 SoIs are in various phases of the transition process.
The SoI program faces two broad challenges that require ongoing engagement and coordination with the Coalition. First, the GoI needs to develop its capacity to manage and administer the SoI program as former members transition into the ISF, non-security employment and Iraqi-led and funded SoI initiatives. The second challenge is combating infiltration by malign groups. Program administrators mitigate infiltration with continued emphasis on vetting and screening of SoIs by GoI tribal support councils and Coalition biometric screening. AQI continues to target SoIs because they pose a threat to AQI influence in local areas. These attacks have neither deterred SoIs from their mission nor lessened their desire to protect their communities from criminal and insurgent activities.
The Joint Technical Education and Reintegration Program (JTERP) is an Iraqidirected program that provides classroombased vocational training to the SoIs. The U.S. Government provides $35.5 million from the Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF) to JTERP while the GoI provides $196 million in funding. JTERP has implemented pilot programs in Tikrit and Mahmudiyah to test procedures before full implementation in the summer of 2008. The program will expand to five sites with a target of 5,000 SoIs from a transition class starting in June 2008. The Civilian Service Corps (CSC) is a separate, onthe- job apprenticeship training program designed to teach vocational skills while improving the infrastructure of the community. Multi-National Corps – Iraq (MNC-I) administers and funds this program with $120 million of ISFF funds. There are 26 CSC contracts throughout Iraq with over 2,000 SoIs in this transition program. Follow-on funding by the GoI is currently being coordinated.
Joint Security Stations
The steady improvement in the security environment over the last nine months is partly the result of Coalition and Iraqi forces living among the population through the joint staffing of local Joint Security Stations (JSSs) and Combat Outposts (COPs). This partnership has provided the ISF with greater exposure to routine counterinsurgency operations, emboldening them to become more proactive in their own operations and improving their overall effectiveness. Continued ISF presence in the neighborhoods has disrupted insurgent and terrorist operations by demonstrating ISF commitment to the security of the local population, in turn earning the communities’ trust, confidence and support. Accordingly, local residents have begun to work with Coalition and Iraqi forces to deny the enemy sanctuary in their neighborhoods. The continuous presence and increased effectiveness of the ISF has helped ease the distrust between different ethnic populations and has facilitated the return of some displaced persons.
Attack Trends and Violence Assessment
Civilian deaths across Iraq have declined dramatically. The number of Coalition-reported civilian deaths has remained relatively steady since December 2007, while Iraqi-reported civilian deaths have continued a slight increase from January 2008. In May 2008, Iraqi and Coalition forces report civilian deaths are 75% lower than July 2007 and 82% lower than the peak number in monthly deaths that occurred in November of 2006. Periodic high-casualty car and suicide vest bombings continued throughout the period and are largely responsible for the increased civilian deaths. However, the absence of significantly increasing trends illustrates the failure of high-profile attacks to rekindle the cycle of ethno-sectarian violence that characterized the period from the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006 until the surge in Coalition forces reached full strength in the summer of 2007.
Improvised Explosive Devices and Explosively Formed Penetrators
Weekly improvised explosive device (IED) incidents in Baghdad rose sharply over the months of March and April 2008, as JAM employed many of these devices to restrict Coalition and Iraqi forces’ freedom of movement around Sadr City and New Baghdad. Levels for IEDs Iraq-wide remained comparable to early 2006. Despite the spike in Baghdad, the number of IED incidents and casualties has remained below long-term averages for 31 straight weeks. Moreover, the portion of IEDs found and cleared before they detonated has exceeded 50% during all but six weeks in the past seven months. The level of IED incidents and casualties remains low due to the steadily increasing efforts of Coalition and Iraqi forces to disrupt insurgent networks and destroy IED-making facilities and due to the ISF presence among the population, which fosters a great number of tips and often prevents attackers from reaching more heavily populated targets. IEDs constitute the principal threat to Coalition forces, but the number of incidents and Coalition deaths caused by IEDs remains on a consistently low six-month trend. Monthly EFP incidents increased substantially in March and April 2008. Special Groups (SGs) operating in the Baghdad Security Districts of Sadr City and New Baghdad, supported by Iranian training and materiel, were primarily responsible for these increases. The number of EFP incidents declined in May, returning to the level seen in March 2008.
High Profile Attacks
Monthly high-profile attacks (HPAs) in Iraq decreased in May 2008, falling below the previous two-year low reached in December 2007. HPA explosions for May 2008 are down over 70% from the peak in March 2007. As security improves and Coalition and Iraqi forces focus on enemy networks, there has been a decrease in the effectiveness of HPAs. Nonetheless, AQI retains the intent and capability of carrying out spectacular, highpayoff attacks. On April 15, 2008, a series of HPAs throughout Iraq produced 150 civilian casualties, the highest number of casualties attributed to AQI in a single day since February 1, 2008.
The number of deaths due to ethno-sectarian violence remains relatively low, illustrating the enemy’s inability to re-ignite the cycle of ethno-sectarian violence. Following a downward trend throughout most of 2007, the number of person-borne IED (PBIED) incidents increased from October 2007 to February 2008, before declining in March and April 2008. AQI’s use of PBIEDs and female suicide bombers remains an important tactic, especially as population security measures and local opposition to AQI in some provinces makes effective targeting using suicide vehicleborne IEDs (SVBIEDs) more difficult.
Regional Security Assessments
Since the last reporting period, the average number of attacks executed daily has decreased in all provinces except Baghdad and Basrah. The four provinces with the highest number of attacks have approximately half of the population but account for 87% of executed attacks. Daily attacks in Baghdad and Basrah provinces increased 54% and 6%, respectively, due to ISF-led operations in both provinces. In 11 of 18 provinces, executed attacks averaged less than one per day.
Assessment of the Security Environment— Baghdad
Despite the significant upturns in violence in late March 2008, security incident levels in Baghdad returned to those seen in the period from November 2007 through mid-March 2008 in mid-May. The increase in incidents in the Baghdad Security Districts in late March and April 2008 resulted from attacks by JAM and SGs against Coalition and Iraqi forces. The number of indirect fire and EFP attacks increased sharply in late March and April 2008 when JAM and SG elements fired hundreds of Iranian-supplied rockets against targets in Baghdad. Many of the targets were concentrated on the International Zone and other Coalition fixed sites. These same groups used EFPs to restrict security force freedom of movement around Sadr City and other JAMcontrolled neighborhoods. The use of Iranian rockets and EFPs highlighted the degree of Iranian support provided to extremist groups in Iraq.
Iraqi and Coalition forces responded to JAM and SG attacks by extending control over key neighborhoods within Sadr City where JAM and SGs operated. Because of this pressure, on May 11, 2008, the Sadrists reached a cease-fire agreement with the GoI regarding resistance to ISF operations and access to Sadr City. Entering the city under this agreement, the ISF began clearing and humanitarian operations in Sadr City on May 20, 2008. Since the ISF continued its advance into the remainder of Sadr City, incident levels have decreased.
Deaths related to ethno-sectarian violence increased slightly in Baghdad in February and March 2008, but generated very little disruption in a downward trend that has persisted since last year. During the last two full weeks of May 2008, there were no confirmed ethnosectarian deaths in Baghdad. In April and May 2008, there were 17 and 11 deaths, respectively, in the Baghdad Security Districts. This is the lowest level on record, and a remarkable improvement when compared to the over 1,600 ethno-sectarian deaths in December 2006. The number of IED attacks in Baghdad from late March through mid-May 2008 increased significantly before returning to pre-March levels in the third week of May. More than one-fifth of the IED attacks in 2008 were in the form of EFP strikes on Coalition and Iraqi forces. AQI continues to adapt its tactics to counter local security operations in Baghdad Province. Recently, AQI increased its use of PBIEDs over vehicle bombs because security measures and attitudes toward AQI by the populace have made the use of vehicle bombs more difficult.
Assessment of the Security Environment— Western Iraq
Security in Anbar Province continued to improve this reporting period. Periodic increases in HPAs over the past few months are likely the result of AQI attempting to distract Coalition and ISF attention away from Mosul and to exacerbate intra-Sunni tensions in the province. In March 2008, AQI favored using PBIEDs over SVBIEDs in attacks owing to effective population security measures that limited the group’s ability to employ VBIEDs, including a significant disruption of their VBIED production network. In Anbar, the average number of security incidents remained at five incidents per day over a 90-day period, accounting for less than 4% of the attacks in all of Iraq. This represents a ten-fold reduction compared to the summer of 2006 and is half of the rate of the last few months of 2007. The combined efforts of SoIs and Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to hinder AQI’s ability to obtain resources or operate effectively in population centers, forcing AQI to operate and conduct attacks from remote locations in the province. Despite these setbacks, AQI continues efforts to regain footholds in the Euphrates River Valley.
The Iraqi Army has handed over security responsibilities in most of Anbar’s population centers to the Iraqi Police, allowing the Army to concentrate its efforts on driving AQI from hideouts in remote locations. The Sahawa al- Iraq (SAI) tribal movement has survived AQI attacks against its key leaders, and instead is successfully using the attacks to embolden local tribes and strengthen its own influence.8 SAI recently registered as a political party and intends to compete in the upcoming fall provincial elections and the subsequent nation elections, although the GoI has yet to act on SAIs request to become a national political party. The movement continues to position itself as an alternative to existing provincial political leaders, deriving much of its credibility from its fight against AQI and the resulting security gains. For several months, SAI leaders have reached out to prominent Shi’a figures in other provinces to promote reconciliation and unity under the theme of “One Iraq.”
Assessment of the Security Environment— Central/Northern Iraq
Overall violence indicators in northern Iraq remain high, but recently registered the lowest levels since March 2006. Nevertheless, with continued fighting between Coalition and Iraqi forces and AQI, the North remains the main effort as northern Iraq registers roughly half of all security incidents. AQI continues to concentrate its forces and operations in the city of Mosul and surrounding areas. Mosul is significant to AQI because it is a major population center connecting AQI sub-networks of foreign-trained fighters throughout the country. The increase of SVBIEDs in March 2008 reflects AQI’s ability to regenerate VBIED cells and maintain foreign fighter flows, as well as the importance it places on the high-profile nature of such attacks as a means for disrupting the population’s sense of security and dissuading local support of Coalition and Iraqi forces. Mosul is also a major line of communication along the Tigris River valley to Baghdad. As Coalition and Iraqi forces pushed AQI into this area from western and central Iraq over the last few months, the number of engagements between Coalition and Iraqi forces and AQI in this region has increased steadily. Increased Coalition and Iraqi forces operations have led to greater support and assistance by the local populace and a corresponding disruption of AQI activities.
In January, Coalition and Iraqi conventional and special operations forces from the Ninewa Operations Command conducted the initial phase of a deliberate counterinsurgency campaign in Mosul and Ninewa Province that incorporated lessons learned in 2007 during the execution of the Baghdad Security Plan. The initial phase of the campaign continued through April 2008 and consisted of the construction of a berm and checkpoints outside the city to control access, the extension of security forces presence in the city of Mosul through the establishment of joint security stations and combat outposts and the development of intelligence against AQI and insurgent networks. These same forces, assisted by Coalition intelligence, operated between the Syrian border and Mosul in western Ninewa Province and the Jazeera Desert to disrupt the foreign fighter and terrorist networks that enable the transit of foreign fighters into Iraq and to deny safe havens to extremist groups.
Prime Minister Maliki directed the next phase of the campaign to commence on May 10, 2008. During this phase, the ISF-led clearing operations in Mosul and the surrounding areas have resulted in greater support and assistance from the local populace and to a corresponding disruption of AQI and Sunni insurgent activities in Ninewa Province.
Assessment of the Security Environment— Southern Iraq
Security incidents in the southern provinces during this reporting period accounted for less than 3% of incidents nationwide. In late March 2008, the combination of political power struggles in Baghdad and increasing challenges to government control in Basrah made Basrah City the focal point of a broader intra-Shi’a power struggle between Shi’a aligned with the GoI and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and those aligned with the Sadrist movement. On March 25, 2008, Prime Minister Maliki launched Operation Saulat al-Fursan to assert GoI control of Basrah City. Iraqis planned and led the operation, directing the mobilization and movement of nearly a division’s worth of Iraqi Army units, Special Operations Forces, National Police and Police to the Basrah area.
OMS/JAM perceived this operation as an ISCIbacked political maneuver designed to damage the Sadrist Trend’s credibility in the period leading up to the provincial elections later this year. The operation also threatened many groups engaged in criminal activities. OMS/JAM aligned with SGs to fight the ISF in the streets of Basrah. After five days of combat, Muqtada al-Sadr issued a nine-point statement on March 30, 2008, that ordered a cease-fire and ended the overt phase of the Basrah conflict. Coalition enablers played a crucial role in support of the ISF in Basrah. On April 12, 2008, Prime Minister Maliki ordered discreet follow-on operations to secure the rest of the city using house-to-house weapons searches aimed at stopping the flow of arms and fighters back into the city. These operations proved highly successful. They brought stability to most of the city and uncovered large weapons caches, including many weapons provided by Iran over the previous few months, some of which were produced in Iran in early 2008. In this period, both Iraqi and Coalition forces increased humanitarian support to this area. Currently, efforts are underway to facilitate short-term job programs and to create a new National Police brigade in Basrah. Although tension in the area remains high, Iraqi forces appear to be garnering local support as they restore order, facilitate aid and restore basic services to the people of Basrah.
While the Basrah operations appear to have returned control of Basrah to the Iraqi Government, the operations did not eliminate the militias. Many JAM and SG leaders appear to have fled from Basrah and Baghdad to Maysan Province and Iran. As the conflict in Basrah evolves, the potential remains for more clashes between Iraqi forces and JAM in the South. Iraqi forces have demonstrated a mixed ability to contain JAM in some provinces, while in others, such as Wassit and Maysan, JAM is more entrenched. A sustained security presence in Basrah, combined with supporting efforts to foster reconstruction and employment, will be critical in retaining recent security gains over the longer term.
Assessment of the Security Environment— Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Area
The KRG region continues to be the least violent part of Iraq. The provinces of Irbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah remain stable with only four reported attacks since the last reporting period. However, Kurdish terrorists in the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) remain a regional security concern.
Following a period of increased tension during January and February 2008, Turkey in late February 2008 conducted an eight-day ground incursion against PKK targets in northern Iraq. This included multiple air and artillery strikes in the far northern border areas of Iraq punctuated by air strikes deeper into Iraq along the Iranian border. Diplomatic initiatives brought GoI representatives and Turkish Government officials together for discussions concerning the PKK and other border issues. The talks could lead to a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the issue. Overall, tensions in the KRG controlled area have eased due to fewer counter-PKK operations during this reporting period. While periodic air and artillery strikes continue, Turkey has generally reduced the scale of their military operations.
Public Perceptions of Security
Nationwide polls show that Iraqis believe the security situation is better locally than nationally. Polls conducted in April 2008 reveal that Iraq’s southern provinces have a stronger sense of security than the central and northern provinces. When asked, 63% of Iraqis described the security situation in their neighborhoods as calm, a two-percentage-point increase from November 2007.9 When asked the same question about their province and Iraq as a whole, 42% said the situation was calm in their province10, and 15% of Iraqis said the situation was calm nationwide.11 There has been an eight-percentage point decrease in confidence at the national level during the same time period. Dahuk and Maysan Provinces had the largest disparity between perception of local and national levels of calmness: 99%12 and 98% respectively.13
Nationwide polling in April 2008 indicates that 73% (a two-percentage point decrease from November 2007) of Iraqis feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods and that 37% feel safe traveling outside of their neighborhoods.14 Since November 2007, there has been a sevenpercentage point decrease (from 45% to 38%) for those who feel safe traveling outside of their neighborhoods. While feelings of safety and security at the local level have remained steady since November 2007, those same feelings at the national level have decreased moderately.
When asked about perceptions of the Iraqi Security Forces, 63% of Iraqis said they feel secure when they see the Iraqi Army in their neighborhoods15 and 50% said they feel secure when they see the Iraqi Police in their neighborhoods.16 This is a 12-percentage-point
increase in the trust in the Iraqi Army, and a three-percentage-point decrease in the trust of the Iraqi Police since November 2007. Nationwide perceptions of the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police are within 13 percentage points of each other.
When asked in April 2008 if they believed the GoI was effective or ineffective at maintaining security, 33% of Iraqis said the GoI was effective at maintaining security.17 When asked to rate the level of peace and stability of the country, 26% of Iraqis said Iraq was stable.18 This is a two-percentage point decrease when compared to November 2007 results.
Nationwide polls in April 2008 indicate that 58% of Iraqis believe that the Iraqi Army is winning the battle against terrorists19 and that 49% of Iraqis believe the Iraqi Police is winning the battle against crime.20 This is a six-percentage point increase for the Iraqi Army and a one-percentage point decrease in perception for the Iraqi Police since November 2007. When asked if they had confidence in specific groups to improve the overall security situation in Iraq, Iraqis placed their highest confidence in the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police; 79% had confidence in the Iraqi Army and 75% had confidence in the Iraqi Police as of April 2008.21
When comparing levels of government, Iraqis had the most confidence in provincial governments to improve security (66%); 61% of Iraqis had confidence in their local government to improve security and 57% of Iraqis had confidence in the national government to improve security.22 This represents a confidence drop of 12 percentage points, 18 percentage points and 11 percentage points, respectively since November 2007. Multi-National Forces (26%), armed groups (21%) and militias (19%) rated the lowest Iraqi confidence to improve security, representing a 12-percentage-point drop for the Multi- National Forces, an eight-percentage-point drop for armed groups, and a three-percentage-point increase for militias since November 2007.23
When asked who was most responsible for providing security in their neighborhoods, Iraqis responded that the Iraqi Army (35%) and the Iraqi Police (34%) are most responsible for providing security in their neighborhoods.24 Relatively few Iraqis said the Sons of Iraq (8%), people from their tribe (5%), neighbors (4%), militias (4%), religious leaders (3%) or Multi-National Forces (3%) were most responsible for providing security. Trends in perception of who provides neighbors, militias, religious leaders, people from their tribe and Multi-National Forces providing security in neighborhoods have remained steady since November 2007. The exceptions to this trend are the Iraqi Police with perception of responsibility decreasing by nine percentage points, the Iraqi Army with perception increasing by 12 percentage points and the Sons of Iraq with perception increasing by six percentage points.
When asked in April 2008 if they had confidence in specific groups to protect them and their families from threats, Iraqis had the highest confidence in the Iraqi Army (78%).25 For other groups, 73% of Iraqis had confidence in the Iraqi Police, 65% had confidence in their provincial government, 61% had confidence in their local government, and 56% had confidence in the National government. Confidence in the Multi-National Forces, armed groups and militias was much lower at 25%, 20% and 20%, respectively. In a continuation of trends from November 2007, Iraqis place their highest trust and confidence in the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police and the GoI (from the local to the national level) to protect them and to provide security.
Despite a spike of activity in late March and April 2008 in Basrah and Sadr City, overall violence levels have dropped to mid-to late- 2005 levels. These improvements coincide with the growing willingness of Sunni and Shi’a tribal leaders to cooperate with the Coalition in an effort to reduce violence in their neighborhoods and provinces. Although the progress is encouraging, the overall security situation in Iraq is still reversible. The situation in parts of Ninewa, Diyala, Salah ad Din, Basrah and Baghdad remains challenging. For many Iraqi families, the effects and threats of continued violence continue to be a daily concern. To prevent a reversal in this tenable security environment and to help the Iraqi people enjoy livable communities throughout their country, the GoI must continue to work toward local and national reconciliation to solidify the hard-fought security gains.
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