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Thread: An Iraq To-Do List

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    Default An Iraq To-Do List

    21 May edition of The Weekly Standard - An Iraq To-Do List by Max Boot.

    Since February, General David Petraeus and his team in Baghdad have been implementing classic counterinsurgency precepts that have worked wherever they have been tried in adequate strength over a sustained period of time--from the Philippines and South Africa in the early 1900s to Malaya in the 1950s, El Salvador in the 1980s, and Northern Ireland in the 1990s. They are surging more troops into troubled areas and pushing them off the remote fortress-like Forward Operating Bases and into neighborhoods where they conduct foot patrols, erect concrete barriers, and establish a street-level sense of security. The situation in Anbar province has improved substantially, and, while the areas around Baghdad remain deeply troubled, there are signs of progress in the capital itself. (Sectarian murders are down two-thirds since January, though deaths from spectacular suicide bombings remain high.)

    Where such strategies have worked, the results were achieved in years, not months. The same is likely true of Iraq, so patience remains the order of the day. But while Petraeus has the fundamentals right, there are still reforms that could be implemented to improve the odds of success. During a recent two-week visit with U.S. forces in Iraq, I saw a number of problems that need fixing, starting with the inadequate size of the Iraqi army...

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    Chatham House, May 07: Accepting Realities in Iraq
    Summary

    • Iraq has fractured into regional power bases. Political, security and economic power has devolved to local sectarian, ethnic or tribal political groupings. The Iraqi government is only one of several ‘state-like’ actors. The regionalization of Iraqi political life needs to be recognized as a defining feature of Iraq’s political structure.

    • There is not ‘a’ civil war in Iraq, but many civil wars and insurgencies involving a number of communities and organizations struggling for power. The surge is not curbing the high level of violence, and improvements in security cannot happen in a matter of months.

    • The conflicts have become internalized between Iraqis as the polarization of sectarian and ethnic identities reaches ever deeper into Iraqi society and causes the breakdown of social cohesion.

    • Critical destabilizing issues will come to the fore in 2007–8. Federalism, the control of oil and control of disputed territories need to be resolved.

    • Each of Iraq’s three major neighbouring states, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, has different reasons for seeing the instability there continue, and each uses different methods to influence developments.

    • These current harsh realities need to be accepted if new strategies are to have any chance of preventing the failure and collapse of Iraq. A political solution will require engagement with organizations possessing popular legitimacy and needs to be an Iraqi accommodation, rather than a regional or US-imposed approach.

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    Default Stephen Biddle - Why There is no Insurgency in Iraq

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...483396,00.html

    Two questions: Is Biddle right? (The Chatham House report tracks with his remarks)

    If so, what are the implications on the surge strategy?

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