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Iraq's Slippery Slope...to Peace?

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The Pentagon just released the latest Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq report. Here are some pull-outs from the Executive Summary. You can read the entire document HERE.

My question is how will the MSM portray this report and what negatives will they focus on? It will also be interesting to see if the major papers and networks ignore the update. We'll see...

...The overall security situation in Iraq has greatly improved this reporting period. Security incidents have remained at levels last seen in early 2004 for nearly three consecutive months, while civilian deaths across Iraq have declined to a level 77% lower than the same period in 2007. The surge in Coalition forces, the growth of more capable Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the contributions of the Sons of Iraq (SoI), the ability of forces to secure the population, operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other extremist elements, and the increased willingness of the people and the Government of Iraq (GoI) to confront extremists are important factors that have contributed to the improved security environment. Periodic high-profile car and suicide vest bombings have occurred, but the number of these attacks and the resulting casualties have decreased dramatically. Moreover, these attacks have not rekindled the self-perpetuating cycle of ethno-sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in late 2006 and the first half of 2007.

...The emergence of the SoI remains one of the major developments of the past 18 months; however, the integration and employment of SoI remain a significant challenge. The SoI provide significant security benefits to their local communities by protecting September 26, 2008 neighborhoods, securing key infrastructure and roads, and identifying malign activity.

...The slow pace of transition is a concern. Continued GoI commitment is required to ensure SoI are fully transitioned to permanent employment. Recent allegations of GoI targeting SoI leaders in Diyala Province are of concern if they are indicators of GoI reluctance to integrate SoI into the ISF or, more broadly, to reconcile a diverse province. Prime Minister Maliki has recently signed an order reflecting his commitment that stipulates the GoI will assume responsibility for SoI in Baghdad and its environs (over 50,000) beginning in October 2008, but Coalition forces continue to pay the salaries of SoI personnel. Prime Minister Malikis order would move more than half of the SoIs to the GoI payroll.

...Malign Iranian influence continues to pose the most significant threat to long-term stability in Iraq. Despite continued Iranian promises to the contrary, it appears clear that Iran continues to fund, train, arm, and direct SG intent on destabilizing the situation in Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly engaged Iranian leaders on this issue. The majority of SG leaders remain in Iran where they sought sanctuary following ISF operations in Basrah, Baghdad and Maysan Province.

...In summary, political, security, economic, and diplomatic trends in Iraq this past quarter continued to be positive; however, they remain fragile, reversible, and uneven. Progress towards durable security has been made even as Coalition forces have drawn down. Normalcy is increasingly returning to formerly violent parts of Iraq. The ISF continues to improve and is in the lead in maintaining security for the Iraqi people. Improved security has allowed for dialogue among Iraqs many groups and political entities. The reduced violence has provided time and space in which institutional development can occur. While security has improved dramatically, the fundamental character of the conflict in Iraq remains unchangeda communal struggle for power and resources. Concerns remain in the areas of political reconciliation, rule of law, and ministerial capacity. In order to achieve enduring stability and realize its full potential, the GoI must continue to build its legitimacy by clearly serving the Iraqi people while paying continued attention to the remaining challenges discussed above to help solidify and build on the progress achieved.

-- Christian

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