Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Iraq Study Group (I)

The Iraq Study Group issued its report. In the opening section of the report titled 'Letter from the Co-Chairs' there is a good paragraph says:
"Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government has made, the United States has special obligations. Our country must address as best it can Iraq’s many problems. The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged."
I agree with the above. It is not right to quit unfinished job in Iraq with catastrophic consequences.

Speaking about Iraq's neighbors, it says:
"Yet Iraq’s neighbors are not doing enough to help Iraq achieve stability."
The report refers to Syria & Iran by:
"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."
And suggests a way to influence the behavior of both countries by using disincentives and incentives the United States has. It is obvious that using disincentives with both countries means confrontation with the US. Needless to say, Iraq will be the suitable field for such conflict.

It is much better for the US to make Iraq as a political buffer between Iran & Syria at one side and the US at the other. There are important issues in the Middle East represent vital interests for the US. Some of them, especially concerning Iran, could be tackled through the Iraqi ally. It could be a kind of continuous check of the Iraqi government loyalty. Moreover, it would help Iraq in regaining its regional political position.
"The Iraqi government needs to show its own citizens—and the citizens of the United States and other countries—that it deserves continued support."
The report says:
"By the end of 2006, the Multi-National Security Transition Command–Iraq under American leadership is expected to have trained and equipped a target number of approximately 326,000 Iraqi security services."
Still, there is lot of danger that might emerge from the Iraqi security units. The main threat is a military coup. A matter which is most of Iraqis, and Arabs, are obsessed by. Another issue is that they might make use of skill they gain through training to fight the Americans. It is important to emphasize that improving Iraqi collective mentality should be given much attention, so that training and equipments are used in the right way.

The report recounts several challenges confronted by the Iraqi army; units' lack of leadership; lack of equipment; lack of personnel; lack of logistics & support.
A good pool of Iraqi security personnel is available now (326,000), and choosing those who meet certain criteria is possible. So, constructing elite units is preferable.

Speaking about the Iraqi police, the report says:
"It has neither the training nor legal authority to conduct criminal investigations, nor the firepower to take on organized crime, insurgents, or militias."
Such deficiency makes the Iraqis do not resort to the police since there is no use of it. Collecting bodies from the streets is the only thing the policemen are good in. Moreover, Police personnel are:
"…participating in training in order to obtain a weapon, uniform, and ammunition for use in sectarian violence."
There is another force which guards the institutions of different ministries. The Facilities Protection Service (FPS) represents 145,000 uniformed armed Iraqis. The report describes them:
"These units have questionable loyalties and capabilities. In the ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Transportation controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr the Facilities Protection Service is a source of funding and jobs for the Mahdi Army."
The security situation in Baghdad is described:
"Perpetrators of violence leave neighborhoods in advance of security sweeps, only to filter back later."
"U.S. forces can “clear” any neighborhood, but there are neither enough U.S. troops present nor enough support from Iraqi security forces to “hold” neighborhoods so cleared."
A review of "politics" introduced in the report, under the section "Assessment of the Current Situation in Iraq", one can read:
"Yet many of Iraq’s most powerful and well-positioned leaders are not working toward a united Iraq."
That is because:
"Though Prime Minister Maliki has said he will address the problem of militias, he has taken little meaningful action to curb their influence. He owes his office in large part to Sadr and has shown little willingness to take on him or his Mahdi Army."
"Sunni Arabs have not made the strategic decision to abandon violent insurgency in favor of the political process. Sunni politicians within the government have a limited level of support and influence among their own population, and questionable influence over the insurgency."
The following is not fair:
"The government sometimes provides services on a sectarian basis. For example, in one Sunni neighborhood of Shia-governed Baghdad, there is less than two hours of electricity each day and trash piles are waist-high."
Servicemen do not guarantee their safety in many neighborhoods. As an example, garbage men have been brutally shot dead in one neighborhood, though the very same individuals had been serving the neighborhood for more than fifteen years. On the same rhythm, propane gas cylinder and kerosene distributors, postmen, official employees who deliver electricity and water consumption receipts, all of them are targeted by anonymous killers. As a result, no one is ready to collect garbage from such neighborhoods. The report introduces a justification for the lack of electricity in the very following paragraph:
For instance, electricity transmission towers are downed by explosives, and then sniper attacks prevent repairs from being made."

I'll try to continue…


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