Intelligence Agency Report: Iraq Strategy Is Failing

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Bush and his supporters keep saying the "surge" is working, and that if we just wait for the reports from General Patreus and Ambassador Crocker next month (which the White House will write), then we’ll see that everything is okay.

But of course, we don’t have to wait until next month.

The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, intelligence analysts conclude in a new National Intelligence Estimate.

Despite uneven improvements, the analysts concluded that the level of overall violence is high, Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled, and al-Qaida in Iraq is still able to conduct its highly visible attacks.

"Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," the 10-page document concludes.

The PDF is here, although the official release is at 2:30 pm.  Key excerpts:

"Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation Elusive." Here are some key excerpts…

— "There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last NIE on Iraq in January 2007… However, the level of violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) retains the ability of conduct high-profile attack; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions."

— "We assess, 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 6 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."

— "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 the elements of the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia that try to fuel sectarian violence."

— "The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months because of criticism by other member of the major Shia coalition (the Unified Iraqi Alliance, UIA), Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and other Sunni and Kurdish parties."

— "We assess that changing the mission of Coalition forces from primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operation to prevent AQI from establishing a safehaven would erode security gains achieved thus far."

So there you have it.  Slight uneven military improvements, but a political disaster.  And the military pluses aren’t enough to outweigh the political negatives.

Just so you know, the National Intelligence Estimate isn’t some document created by one low-level guy at some low-level government agency, nor is it something emanating from a Democratic thinktank.  It is:

the collaborative judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organization of each military service.

You read that right.  The intelligence branches of the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Army, Navy Air Force, Marines — they agree that things are not going well in Iraq.

Remember that when the Patreus Report (did I mention that the White House will author it?) comes out next month telling us how rosy Iraq is.