The report is almost exactly the same as the last couple of Iraq reports. The Iraqi government is not making much progress ... of that we all agree. However, the citizens of Iraq continue to abandon their sectarian ways, and side with the coalition against terrorists. Violence of all kinds is decreasing in the country as it has done since last December. We are getting more participation from local tribal leaders to track down, and fight the terrorists. We continue to seize record amounts of caches. All of this ignored by the anti-war crowd, Democrats (except the ones who visit Iraq), and the MSM.
So, as I did with the Pentagon's report in June ... I will go over the National Intelligence Estimate with you today. You may download the whole report here.
The report issues an analytic caution before you start reading it to outline that this is only a short term analysis of the last six months, and is not a comprehensive report.
Analytic Caution: Driven largely by the accelerating pace of tribal engagement and the increasing tempo of Coalition operations, developments in Iraq are unfolding more rapidly and with greater complexity today than when we completed our January NIE. Regional variations in security and political circumstances are great and becoming increasingly more distinct––for example, intra-Shia violence in southern Iraq is very different from patterns of violence elsewhere. The intelligence assessments contained in this NIE largely focus on only a short period of the Iraqi conflict—the last six months—and in circumscribed areas—primarily the central provinces, which contain the center of gravity for Iraq’s security prospects and in which we have a greater Coalition presence and therefore more information. The unfolding pace and scope of security and political realities in Iraq, combined with our necessarily limited focus of analysis, contain risks: our uncertainties are greater, and our future projections subject to greater chances of error. These issues, combined with the challenges of acquiring accurate data on trends in violence and continued gaps in our information about levels of violence and political trends in areas of Iraq without a substantial Coalition presence and where Intelligence Community collectors have difficulty operating, heighten our caution. Nonetheless, we stand by these judgments as our best collective assessment of security and political conditions in Iraq today and as likely to unfold during the next six to12 months.
In the key judgments we learn that while violence in Iraq remains high, there is much improvement in reducing violence, and the economy is growing.
There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in January 2007. The steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al-Qa’ida in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied it grassroots support in some areas. However, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled;
Not glowing, but there is progress. The statements about al Qaeda are cause for optimism.
We assess, to the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust
counterinsurgency operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), that Iraq’s security will continue to improve modestly during the next six to 12 months but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance.
In other words ... we need to keep the pressure on the enemy, and we will see even more success.
Political and security trajectories in Iraq continue to be driven primarily by Shia insecurity about retaining political dominance, widespread Sunni unwillingness to accept a diminished political status, factional rivalries within the sectarian communities resulting in armed conflict, and the actions of extremists such as AQI and elements of the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia that try to fuel sectarian violence.
This is the paragraph that the MSM, and anti-war crowd have focussed on.
We must remember a very simple truth ... security brings a stable government. A stable government doesn't bring security.
As the Iraqi citizens continue to step up, tribal leaders continue to battle insurgents and terrorists, and the coalition continues to make progress ... Iraq will become safer, and more stable. This will allow the government to settle down, and make more progress.
We should all be prepared for this government to be dissolved in favor of a new one, and that would not be a failure at all. Anyone remember the Articles of Confederation? This is the Iraqis first attempt ever at governing themselves, and it should go without saying that there will be difficulty.
The report goes on to cite that Sunnis are turning against al Qaeda, but it is not universal. It also goes into details about the Shia groups fighting each other for power, and there is no leadership in the Sunni community.
Iraqi Security Forces involved in combined operations with Coalition forces have performed adequately, and some units have demonstrated increasing professional competence. However, we judge that the ISF have not improved enough to conduct major operations independent of the Coalition on a sustained basis in multiple locations and that the ISF remain reliant on the Coalition for important aspects of logistics and combat support.
This echoes the sentiments of the US military about their Iraqi counterparts. Our forces have been very impressed ... especially with the police. With a little time the Iraqis will continue to take the lead, but it will take time.
I encourage you to read the whole report, and properly inform yourself (it's only 10 pages). The whole report can summed up in three ways:
- The Iraqi government lacks the ability to unify Iraq at this point in time.
- There has been great progress in security for the Iraqi people, and this will continue to improve for the foreseeable future.
- While Iraqi forces have performed well ... they are not quite ready to do the job alone.
Once again we have a report that is positive, but not glowing. Yet the positive is completely ignored. Which is ironic given that the positives are the benchmarks that critics of the war have been calling for all along.