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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: A Mixed Picture from Iraq

Council on Foreign Relations

July 12, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

The purpose of the U.S. military surge in Iraq was to provide breathing room for Iraqi leaders to forge compromises on essential political benchmarks. A July 12 progress report from the White House offers what one Bush administration describes as “a mixed bag” (NYT). At least half of the benchmarks have not been reached (US News). For example, the Iraqis have yet to pass an oil law, reverse de-Baathification legislation, or establish an electoral commission to hold provincial elections. One-third of Iraq’s parliament remains in absentia as part of a boycott orchestrated by Sunni Arabs and Kurds to protest the draft oil bill. As Iraqi Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie tells NPR, political progress requires more time than those in Washington, namely Congress, are willing to provide.

On the security side of the ledger, arguably more progress has been made. With the surge up to its full strength of 28,500 additional troops, sectarian killings in the capital dropped to three-hundred in June (there were 650 nationally, down from 2,100 in January). High-profile bombings such as multiple-fatality suicide attacks fell below ninety last month, compared to 180 such bombings in March. “ Iraq is a different place from what it was six months ago,” Kimberly Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War writes in the Wall Street Journal.

Yet despite some positive indicators, which are based on a few months of data, U.S. officials say it is too soon to assess the surge from a security standpoint. Military officials note that it took nearly nine months to pacify Ramadi, an ethnically homogenous (LAT) city that is much smaller than Baghdad.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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