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Old 09-07-2008   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Transferring Provinces to Iraqi Control

CSIS, 2 Sep 08: Transferring Provinces to Iraqi Control: The Reality and the Risks
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Key Issues and Tensions

It should be stressed that passing laws does not mean implementing them – either fairly or at all -- and that only sustained government action will produce real political accommodation. Iraq needs time and aid to properly function as a central government and reach the necessary level of political accommodation to support national stability and security.

It is easy to blame the Prime Minister’s office, but much of the problem is the widespread tension between Arab Shi’ite, Arab Sunni, and Kurd, and the fact that key political compromises have not yet been reached between them. The unity and effectiveness of Iraqi security forces cannot be separated from progress in political accommodation at the national, governorate, and local level. Military forces can ―win,‖ but ―build‖ and ―hold‖ require unified and effective governance, and this is still very much a work in progress.

There are still grave questions about what will happen if Iraq does not hold fair and open local/provincial elections. The same questions arise as to what will happen if Iraq does not resolve the issues affecting the development of the oil sector and oil revenues, or does not show it can spend its national budget in ways that share the money properly between sectarian and ethnic factions. The success and national character of the ISF will be critically dependent on how well the top levels of Iraq’s government and political leadership deal with these and the other crucial aspects of political accommodation.

Critical security issues jeopardize Iraqi force development in many ways. It is all very well, for example, to talk about disarming militias, but Iraq is now a country whose citizens are heavily armed, where many factions still have hidden significant numbers of weapons, and where Article 117 of the constitution allows each ―region‖ to organize internal security forces, a provision which already legalizes the Kurds’ Peshmerga militia.ii

The Arab-Kurd-Turcoman-minority issue goes far beyond Kirkuk. It affects every part of the ―ethnic fault line‖ from the area around Mosul to the Iranian border. The Arab-Kurd-Turcoman-minority issue is also an issue where US negotiators and the US presence in Iraq do provide a considerable stabilizing influence. Iraqi talks and the UN negotiating effort may well resolve this issue without Iraqi violence, but it is a key ―conditions-based‖ factor that should influence the pace of US withdrawals.

There are still serious Arab Shi’ite-Arab Sunni tensions at both the top of the government and throughout mixed areas in Iraq. They also affect day-to-day military, National Police, and police operations. Baghdad is still secured in part by the divisions put in place by US forces during the surge. Shi’ite-Sunni tensions still are high in mixed areas like Mosul and Diyala, and the US presence has a major stabilizing impact. Once again, Iraqi progress may well remove the need for such US efforts, but the timing of such progress is far from clear......
Complete 20 page report at the link.
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Old 01-27-2009   #2
Jedburgh
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ICG, 27 Jan 09: Iraq's Provincial Elections: The Stakes
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On 31 January, Iraqis will head to the polls in fourteen of eighteen governorates to elect new provincial councils. The stakes are considerable. Whereas the January 2005 elections helped put Iraq on the path to all-out civil war, these polls could represent another, far more peaceful turning point. They will serve several important objectives: refreshing local governance; testing the strength of various parties; and serving as a bellwether for nationwide political trends. In several governorates, new parties or parties that failed to run four years ago may oust, or at least reduce the dominance of, a handful of dominant parties whose rule has been marred by pervasive mismanagement and corruption. This in itself would be a positive change with far-reaching consequences as the nation braces for parliamentary elections later in 2009......
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