December 19th, 2006 11:46 EST
Pentagon Report Sees Progress in Iraq Despite Spike in Violence
Washington – A Pentagon report released December 18 identifies “incremental progress” in the capabilities of the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) over a recent three-month period despite a sharp increase in violence.
“The period covered in this report (August 12, 2006-November 10, 2006) saw incremental progress in the government of Iraq’s willingness and ability to take over responsibility, to build institutions, and to deliver essential services,” says the congressionally mandated report titled Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq. “This progress is notable given the escalating violence in some of Iraq’s more populous regions and the tragic loss of civilian life at the hands of terrorists and other extremists.”
The report states that Iraqi Security Forces “have assumed more leadership in counter-insurgency and law enforcement operations” and adds that coalition forces are nearing their goals for training and equipping Iraqi forces.
Iraq’s Council of Representatives has adopted key legislation in the areas of constitutional review, foreign investment and federal region formation, the report observes, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s national reconciliation project, which the report identifies as a key to long-term political stability, has shown “little progress.”
The period from July to October saw sharp erosion in public confidence in the Iraqi government’s ability to improve the situation, according to State Department surveys discussed in the report. The Iraqi government must focus on key domestic issues such as enactment of a hydrocarbons law, reform of the de-Ba’athification process, demobilization of militias and a reduction in unemployment to regain the public’s confidence, the report says.
Oil production and electricity generation have risen over the past three months, though they still fall short of program goals, the report says. Daily power availability now averages 11 hours nationwide, although Baghdad, Iraq, receives electricity an average of only six hours per day. The report states that water projects have increased the nation’s supply of potable water by 35 percent over the past six months.
Although attacks on infrastructure have declined, the report says the cumulative effect of past attacks and the difficult environment for making repairs continue to impair the government’s ability to deliver basic services.
Security remains a key concern in Iraq. The report says the total number of attacks has risen 22 percent over the past three months, but it attributes part of that increase to a seasonal spike in violence during the Muslim holy month Ramadan. It says the majority of attacks are aimed at coalition forces and that most civilian violence remains localized in neighborhoods with mixed Sunni and Shiite populations. More than three-quarters of all attacks are taking place in only four provinces: al-Anbar, Baghdad, Salah ad-Din and Diyala. According to the report, more than 90 percent of Iraqis outside the Sunni Triangle say they feel “very safe” in their neighborhoods.
The report notes that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense assumed command and control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC) in September. It anticipates that the IGFC will take full control of all 10 divisions of the Iraqi army by June 2007. The report says the most significant challenges on the security front are addressing the ISF’s shortcomings in logistics management and reforming the Ministry of Interior’s police force to eliminate militia infiltration.
The full text of the report (PDF, 53 pages) is available on the Department of Defense Web site.
For additional information, see Iraq Update.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
By David Shelby
USINFO Staff Writer