Iraq Study Group Report

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 1:30 PM

The following are excerpts from the Iraq Study Group report released Dec. 6, 2006:

Facts on the Ground

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating . . . [the government] is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing basic security, or delivering essential services." (p. xiv)

"There is no guarantee for success in Iraq . . . There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive . . . the ability of the United States to influence events . . . is diminishing." (p.1)

"The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States. Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own future. Iraq's neighbors and much of the international community have not been persuaded to play an active and constructive role." (p.32)

"U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end." (p.12)

"A collapse of Iraq's government and economy would further cripple a country already unable to meet its people's needs. Iraq's security forces could split along sectarian lines. A humanitarian catastrophe could follow . . . Ethnic cleansing could escalate. The Iraqi people could be subjected to another strongman who flexes the political and military muscle required to impose order amid anarchy." (p.33)

"The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million are displaced within Iraq, and up to 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country." (p.4)

"Iraqis may become so sobered by the prospect of an unfolding civil war and intervention by their regional neighbors that they take the steps necessary to avert catastrophe. But at the moment, such a scenario seems implausible because the Iraqi people and their leaders have been slow to demonstrate the capacity or will to act." (p.36)

The Need for Diplomacy

"The United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. This support structure should include every country that has an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors--Iran and Syria among them. Despite the well-known differences between many of these countries, they all share an interest in avoiding the horrific consequences that would flow from a chaotic Iraq, particularly a humanitarian catastrophe and regional destabilization." (page 43)

"Iraq's neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own." (p. xiv)

The U.S. Role

"There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring about success in Iraq." (page 70)

"Because events in Iraq have been set in motion by American decisions and actions, the United States has both a national and a moral interest in doing what it can to give Iraqis an opportunity to avert anarchy." (p.2)

"The United States must not make an open ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq." (p.xvi)

"Many military units are under significant strain . . . many units do not have fully functional equipment for training when they redeploy to the United States." (p.7)

"The United States has appropriated a total of about $34 billion to support the reconstruction of Iraq . . . International support for Iraq reconstruction has been tepid. . . " (p.25-27)

"U.S. economic assistance should be increased to a level of $5 bilion per year rather than being permitted to decline." (page 87)

"Iraq is a major test of, and strain on, U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial capacities. Perceived failure there could diminish America's credibility and influence in a region that is the center of the Islamic world and vital to the world's energy supply." (p.35)

"The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army." (page 70)

"While it is clear that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is moderating the violence, there is little evidence that the longterm deployment of U.S. troops by itself has led or will lead to fundamental improvements in the security situation. . . . " (page 74)

" . . . adding more American troops could conceivably worsen those aspects of the security problem that are fed by the view that the U.S. presence is intended to be a long-term 'occupation.' . . . We also rejected the immediate withdrawal of our troops, because we believe so much is at stake." (page 73)

Iran and Syria

"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively . . . The issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany."(p.xv)

"Iran appears content for the U.S. military to be tied down in Iraq, a position that limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program ad allows Iran leverage over stability in Iraq." (p.28-29)

"The regional influence of Iran could rise at a time when that country is on a path to producing nuclear weapons." (p.33-34)

"Our limited contacts with Iran's government lead us to believe that its leaders are likely to say they will not participate in diplomatic efforts to support stability in Iraq . . . Nevertheless, as one of Iraq's neighbors Iran should be asked to assume its responsibility to participate in the Support Group." (page 52)

"[T]he Syrians look the other way as arms and foreign fighters flow across their border into Iraq, and former Baathist leaders find a safe haven within Syria." (p.29)

The Rest of the Region

"Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states . . . for the most part have been passive and disengaged. They have declined to provide debt relief or substantial economic assistance to the Iraqi government." (p. 29)

"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts . . . [including] direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel's right to exist), and Syria." (p.xv)

Iraq's Government

"The composition of the Iraqi government is basically sectarian, and key players within the government too often act in their sectarian interest." (p.12)

"The security situation cannot improve unless leaders act in support of national reconciliation. Shiite leaders must make the decision to demobilize militias. Sunni Arabs must make the decision to seek their aims through a peaceful political process, not through violent revolt. The Iraqi government and Sunni Arab tribes must aggressively pursue al Qaeda." (p.19)

"The Iraqi government is not effectively providing its people with basic services: electricity, drinking water, sewage, health care, and education. In many sectors, production is below or hovers around prewar levels. In Baghdad and other unstable areas, the situation is much worse." (p.20)

"The United States should work closely with Iraq's leaders to support the achievement of specific objectives--or milestones--on national reconciliation, security, and governance. Miracles cannot be expected, but the people of Iraq have the right to expect action and progress. The Iraqi government needs to show its own citizens--and the citizens of the United States and other countries--that it deserves continued support." (page 59)

"If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government." (page 61)

"The point is not for the United States to set timetables or deadlines for withdrawal, an approach that we oppose. The point is for the United States and Iraq to make clear their shared interest in the orderly departure of U.S. forces as Iraqi forces take on the security mission." (page 67)

Iraq's Military and Police

"The problems in the Iraqi police and criminal justice system are profound." (page 78)

"The Iraqi criminal justice system is weak, and the U.S. training mission has been hindered by a lack of clarity and capacity." (page 81)

"Significant questions remain about the ethnic composition and loyalties of some Iraqi units--specifically, whether they will carry out missions on behalf of national goals instead of a sectarian agenda . . . Units lack leadership . . . equipment. . . personnel . . . logistics and support." (p.8-9)

"The state of the Iraqi police is substantially worse than that of the Iraqi Army . . . Iraqi police cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians." (p.9-10)


"Terrorism could grow. As one Iraqi official told us, 'Al-Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald's.' " (p.34)

"Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq, but that includes some of the more spectacular acts . . . Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters--numbering an estimated 1,300--play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations." (p.4)

Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds

Shiite militias "are fragmenting, with an increasing breakdown in command structure . . . The prevalence of militias sends a powerful message: political leaders can preserve and expand their power only if backed by armed force. The Mahdi Army . . . may number as many as 60,000 fighters." (p.5)

"The Shia, the majority of Iraq's population, have gained power for the first time in more than 1,300 years." (p.13)

"Sunni Arabs feel displaced because of the loss of their traditional position of power in Iraq." (p.15)

"Iraqi Kurds have succeeded in presenting a united front of two main political blocs -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)." (p.16)

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