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>Importance Of The Upcoming Provincial Elections

>The December 2008 issue of the Arab Reform Bulletin had an article by Michael Knights on the importance of the upcoming Iraqi provincial elections. Knights is a Middle East specialist from England that works for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Knights’ main argument was that while the elections will not be perfect, they are an important sign of progress for Iraq’s political system. They will give a sense of how popular Iraq’s parties are, show that the government is committed to democracy, but Knights’ point may be undermined by the fact that actual governance might not improve.

Iraq’s elections are due at the end of January 2009. They will occur in fourteen of the country’s eighteen provinces. The Kurdish Regional Government will decide when the three Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniyah will hold their vote. Tamim, home of the disputed city of Kirkuk, will have its polling delayed as well until a committee can come up with a power sharing agreement, and a separate election law is drafted for it. The committee is supposed to finish their work by March 31, 2009. Even with these exceptions around 75% of the Iraqi public will still be voting.

The election law this time is more open than 2005, but still has limits. The new voting system is an open list, proportional one. In 2005 Iraq had a closed list vote. People picked from coalitions of parties, and then those parties decided what politicians would fill the provincial council seats. Many of these people were unqualified as the parties relied upon cronies, family ties, and patronage to dole out the seats. The new system will allow Iraqis to pick from individuals, parties or coalitions. The votes will be tallied to see how much each individual or party gets across the entire province, and then positions on the council will be given by the percentage each received. The top vote getters for each list will receive the actual seats, meaning the parties will not get to pick them as happened in 2005. This method favors the large parties that are better organized, funded, and already control the councils because they can operate across the entire province, which is necessary to win seats. There are also no campaign financing rules, which will allow rich individuals and foreign countries to also play a role in influencing the outcome. In November for example, an Iranian agent was arrested in Wasit hiding in a fuel truck carrying forged Iraqi IDs. An Iraqi source believed the Iranian was planning to use them in the elections to fake votes. The election law also sets aside a quota for women candidates with the top vote getting women getting every 3rd seat on the councils. The councils in turn pick the governors of each province and the provincial police chiefs. They also get to control the provincial budgets and local reconstruction projects.

The January elections will also be different from the 2005 one because of who’s running and how. In the 2005 provincial elections, the major Shiite parties the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Dawa ran together as part of the United Iraqi Alliance. This time they will be running against each other. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already made his move to improve his situation vis-a-vis the much larger SIIC that already controls most of the southern provinces by creating Tribal Support Councils aimed at gathering votes from sheikhs and their followers in rural areas. The Sunnis and Sadrists also largely boycotted the first 2005 elections. On the Sunni side, only the Iraqi Islamic Party ran, which now controls Anbar, while the Sadrists only really competed in Maysan, which they have sway over. The tribal Awakening forces in Anbar are hoping to unseat the Islamic Party, while the larger Iraqi Accordance Front coalition is looking to gain seats in central and northern Iraq. The Sadrists on the other hand, are handicapped by the series of government crackdowns that began in March 2008. Sadr said his followers would run with smaller parties. As reported earlier, this probably means they will not do well. Dozens of independents and individuals are going to run as well, even though their chances of victory are slim due to the voting system. The head of Iraq’s Election Commission announced that there were 14,800 individuals, 36 coalitions, and 366 political parties running for office this time.

In the end, Knights believes that the elections will only shuffle the seats between the current ruling parties. He predicts that the Shiite south will be evenly divided between the Dawa and SIIC after the election, with independents being the swing votes as to who is named governors. The Anbar tribes will split the vote with the Islamic Party, and the Accordance Front could take Salahaddin, which is currently ruled by the Kurds. The Sunnis might also gain seats in Diyala and Baghdad, while the Kurds could retain control of Ninewa, which has the disputed city of Mosul. Knights warns that violence and fraud might also influence the vote, both real and imagined. There have already been several reports of an uptake in assassinations and the use of sticky bombs to kill officials that could be linked to the elections.

When the election is over, the new councils may face opportunities and difficulties as well. The new governors could have more power as the provincial powers act gives them wide ranging authority. They could also be severely limited by two factors as well. First, the change in ruling parties could also hamper the local government as bureaucrats are likely to be replaced with a brand new set of family members and cronies that have little to no experience running anything. Second, Baghdad is planning on slashing the provincial budgets in half because of the drop in oil prices. Much of Iraq lives in poverty, and many citizens are cynical about the political system that has failed to improve their lot even as violence has declined in the last year. Because of these experiences and financial constraints, the new provincial governments may be no better than their predecessors in delivering on any of their election promises.

Despite all of these faults, Knights still believes that the elections are important. Iraq is still formulating its political system after years of dictatorial rule. The same parties may end up in power, just with different positions vis-à-vis each other, and they may not be able to improve the provinces’ lot much, but Knights argues the vote will be significant symbolically. He thinks that Baghdad needs to instill in the public the fact that there will be regular elections, and the people will have a say in who rules the country. Of course, if it leads to the same type of incompetent and corrupt governance couldn’t that corrode the populace’s belief in democracy just as much? There are plenty of developing countries that have regular votes, but little changes. Ultimately, simply carrying out balloting is not enough to transform a nation. Elections need to be more than symbolic victories. They need to lead to real substantive changes as well.

For more on the upcoming provincial elections see:

Controversy Could Be Growing Over Ban On Using Religious Symbols During Provincial Elections

Iraqi Al-Amal Association and Baghdad University’s Public Opinion Poll On Poverty In Iraq

Maliki’s Tribal Support Councils Appear To Be Paying Off

Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies’ Survey Of Iraqis

Maliki Responds To His Critics On Tribal Support Councils

Disputes Over Tribal Support Councils

Iraq’s Displaced Not Excitied About Election

Iraq’s New Voting System

Election Law Passed, Now To Get People To Vote

SOURCES

Aswat al-Iraq, “Iranian with forged Iraqi IDs arrested in Wassit,” 11/22/08
- “Next year elections made by Iraqis – IHEC,” 12/4/08
- “No decrease in salaries because of oil prices – planning minister,” 12/19/08

Fadel, Leila, “Assassinations replacing car bombs in Iraq,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/9/08

Goode, Erica, “Iraq Passes Provincial Elections Law,” New York Times, 9/25/08

Institute for the Study of War, “Fact Sheet on Iraq’s Major Shi’a Political Parties and Militia Groups,” April 2008

Knights, Michael, “Significance of the Provincial Elections,” Arab Reform Bulletin, December, 2008

Middle East Reference.org, “Governorate elections held in Iraq on 31 January 2005”

Parker, Sam, “not so open,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 9/25/08

>Iraq Cuts Budget

>Iraq’s High Economic Committee met on December 16 and cut Iraq’s 2009 budget in the face of sinking oil prices. The committee consists of the ministers of Finance, Oil, Planning, Electricity, Industry, and Trade, along with advisors to Maliki, and experts from the ministries. The new budget is for $58 billion. That is $12 billion less than the 2008 budget. The government is planning on cutting spending for the provinces, reconstruction, ministries, and perhaps the food ration system as a result. More reductions could happen in the future.

Iraq’s new budget cuts billions of dollars from the original estimates. When Iraq’s 2009 budget was first announced it was $78.8 billion, and based upon an $80 a barrel oil price. Petroleum accounted for 94% of the government’s expected 2009 revenue according to the Finance Ministry. At the time this was a conservative estimate as oil prices peaked at $147 a barrel in July, but they quickly plummeted with the growing economic crisis. In mid-December crude prices stand at around $45. In November, Iraq’s cabinet made their first revision to the budget, reducing it to $67 billion, based upon a $62 a barrel price. The newest budget cuts another $9 billion, and is based upon $50 a barrel. The budget may be adjusted again before it is sent to parliament for final approve if oil continues to drop in value.

In order to achieve these cuts Iraq will face a series of austerity measures. First, the government promised pay increases for all government workers and the security forces. This is now off. Instead, the ministries will be asked to reduce their operational budgets, the only money they have proven to be able to spend, while the provinces’ spending will be trimmed by about 50%. The country’s $5 billion food ration system may also be reduced. There are also plans to slow the pace of reconstruction projects. Even after these moves, Iraq is still likely to run a deficit. It may even be forced to ask for international aid to make up for the difference.

These budget cuts are only the most recent problems to face Iraq’s economy. There is no real tax system and tariffs are low to non-existent. To add to the difficulties, an oil expert estimated that exports could drop 13% in 2009 because of deteriorating infrastructure. That’s why it’s likely that Iraq’s budget will face deficits and more cuts in the coming years until oil prices stabilize, and the recession ends. Iraq’s public will feel the effects as the government still dominates the economy. Reconstruction might come to a stand still as Iraq is now almost completely responsible for it. Iraq will probably take years to recover, when it still hasn’t even gotten over the decade of sanctions, the destruction from the U.S. invasion, and the mismanagement of the Americans.

SOURCES

Abedzair, Kareem, “Oil price drop forces government to tighten belt,” Azzaman, 12/14/08

Associated Press, “Iraq plans to cut 2009 budget by $13 billion,” 10/31/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “No decrease in salaries because of oil prices – planning minister” 12/19/08

Karouny, Mariam, “Iraq reviews 2009 budget due to falling oil price,” Reuters, 10/23/08

Mawloodi, Aiyob, “Iraq may ask for foreign economic assistance,” Kurdish Globe, 12/19/08

Michaels, Jim, “Declining oil prices threaten Iraqi stability,” USA Today, 12/16/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/08

Swartz, Spencer, “Iraqi Oil Exports Could Fall Amid Maintenance Problems,” Wall Street Journal, 12/2/08

United States Government Accountability Office, “Iraqi Revenues, Expenditures, and Surplus,” August 2008

>Sadr’s Predicament

>

Sadr’s call for weekly protests against the Status of Forces Agreement failed in both rallying more support and in blocking the deal from passing

Recently the U.S. and Iraq signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which sets the future relations between the two countries. The followers of Moqtada al-Sadr were some of the fiercest opponents of the pact. Sadr called for weekly demonstrations against it, while his parliamentarians tried to block it in the legislature. Its passage was a major setback for Sadr who has been struggling to re-define his movement.

After the government’s crackdown on the Mahdi Army in early 2008, Sadr began to reorganize. In June he said he was disbanding his militia, and creating a new group, the Mumahidun, Those Who Are Paving The Way. This new organization was to focus upon social programs and religious training. At the same time, Sadr has been in Qom, Iran undergoing religious training. Many think he is aiming to become an ayatollah, which would give him greater standing amongst Shiites, and would allow him to issue fatwas. It was also a way for him to escape being targeted by Iraqi and American forces for his militia. Some believe he is trying to join the mainstream, and shed his image as a militia leader.

Sadr’s opposition to the SOFA was part of this new image making. By standing against the agreement, he hoped to rekindle his nationalist stance, and regain followers. Beginning in May 2008, he called for weekly demonstrations against the SOFA. The Sadr bloc in parliament said they were against any agreement with the U.S., which they saw as an occupier. They were one of the few groups that completely rejected the deal. The problem was that they didn’t propose any alternatives they just called for an immediate withdrawal of American forces. That meant his parliamentarians could not make bargains, and got nothing from their stance when the SOFA was passed. The agreement was also a victory for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who used it to undermine Sadr. Maliki claimed that he was the one that got the U.S. to agree to pull out of Iraq, something Sadr has always said he stood for.

Up next for the Sadrists are the provincial elections in January 2009. Sadr said that he would not have his followers run under his name. Instead they will join independents and smaller political parties. Again, this was a way to avoid persecution by the government who threatened to ban any party with a militia. Since the new election law favors the larger, well-organized parties, the Sadrists will probably not do well in the upcoming vote following this strategy.

These all point to the huge gamble that Sadr is taking. He is trying to transform his group into a more institutionalized social and political one. The Mahdi has always been an ad hoc street movement. Local commanders raised their own money, obtained weapons, and carried out their own operations. Protection rackets and other illegal activities were common ways for them to raise funds. Sadr only has a nominal hold over a lot of them, and is more of a symbolic leader. Many of his followers reject the political system and the major parties, especially the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is a long time rival, and the Dawa Party because of Maliki’s moves against them. Some were upset with his decision to run in the 2005 parliamentary elections and join Maliki’s government. As a result, the Mahdi Army has increasingly fractured over the last several years. More and more have found outside support from Iran in the myriad local militias known as Special Groups.

As a sign of these growing divisions, there have been several deaths of moderate Sadrists. As reported before, Riadh al-Nouri was killed in April 2008, followed by parliamentarian Saleh al-Auqaeili in October. Factions of the Mahdi Army are suspected of carrying out the assassinations.

Sadr might also be on the outs with Iran. After the U.S. invasion Tehran began moving towards Sadr because of his anti-American stance. The Iranians came to see him as a loose canon however as he had his own agenda, and would escalate situations and start violence with no way to end them. Iran started arming the groups that broke away from his movement because they were easier to control by regulating the amount of weapons shipped to them. There were also reports that Sadr might have been under a form of house arrest in 2008. Iran also came to support the SOFA after Maliki was able to get the U.S. to agree to a 2011 withdrawal date, directly contradicting Sadr’s stance on the deal.

Sadr appears in a very weakened position now. In 2007 he withdrew his ministers from Maliki’s cabinet, giving him no say in the federal government. His bloc in parliament has achieved very few things, as the opposition overall is very fragmented. Sadrists control Maysan province, which is one of the poorest in the country. He lacks a national party to run in the upcoming elections, and might have lost standing with Iran. More importantly, Sadr’s power has always come from his standing on the street, and his ability to threaten violence. He is now trying to move away from armed conflict, while the Special Groups have grown, tainting his name in the process. Many of his remaining followers also seem uncertain of what direction the movement is going in. Adding to that is the fact that Sadr himself has not been seen in public for over a year, and is currently living outside the country in Qom, Iran, which means he does not have a role in the day to day operation of his movement. His recent moves to reconfigure his group are as much an attempt to escape more arrests by the government, as to gain legitimacy. The problem as always has been that the more Sadr moves towards the mainstream, the less support he has amongst his traditional followers.

For more on the Sadrists see:

Combating Terrorism Center’s Report On Iran’s Role In Iraq

Combating Terrorism Center Report On Iranian Training of Shiite Militants

SOFA Passes

Government Moves Against Squatters In Hurriyah, Baghdad

Iraq Center for Research & Strategic Studies’ Survey Of Iraqis

Shiite Rivalries Increasing As Provincial Elections Near

How The Failure To Deal With Iraq’s Militias Caused The Breakdown Of The Country

Another Sadrist Assassinated

Dispute Over Tribal Support Councils

Sadrist Cleric Assassinated In Basra

Maliki Hits The Campaign Trail

Sadr Struggles To Remain Relevant

Sadr’s Leadership Or Lack Thereof

Iraq Gains Control of Diwaniyah Province

Hezbollah’s Role In Iraq

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update II

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update I

Vali Nasr: Iranian Policy In Iraq At A Crossroad

Operation Promise Of Peace In Maysan Province

SOURCES

Abbas, Mohammed, “Iraq’s Mehdi Army at crossroads as U.S. scales down,” Reuters, 9/22/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “Mahdi Army weaker in Sadr City-U.S. commander,” 11/17/08

Bennett, Brian, “Underestimating al-Sadr – Again,” Time, 2/12/08

Chon, Gina, “Radical Iraq Cleric in Retreat,” Wall Street Journal, 8/5/08

Cordesman, Anthony, and Ramos, Jose, “Sadr and the Mahdi Army: Evoluation, Capabilities, and a New Direction,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8/4/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Graff, Peter, “Influence wanes for followers of Iraq’s Sadr,” Reuters, 11/24/08

Oppel, Richard and Farrell, Stephen, “Growing Opposition to Iraq Security Pact,” New York Times, 5/31/08

Parker, Ned, “In Iraq, Muqtada Sadr’s followers struggle for relevance,” Los Angeles Times, 11/10/08

Parker, Sam, “not so open,” Abu Muqawama Blog, 9/25/08

Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Sadr Movement Seeks Is Way As Others Gain Power in Iraq,” Washington Post, 12/5/08

Rahimi, Babak, “The Mumahidun: Muqtada Al-Sadr’s New Militia,” Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, 9/4/08

Robertson, Campbell and Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Cleric Calls for Resistance to U.S. Presence in Iraq,” New York Times, 11/15/08

Sheridan, Mary Beth, “Sadr Followers Rally Against U.S. Accord,” Washington Post, 11/22/08

Susman, Tina, “U.S.-Iraqi accord shows Muqtada Sadr’s diminished clout,” Los Angeles Times, 12/2/08

World Food Programme, “Comprehensive Food Security And Vulnerability Analysis In Iraq,” November 2008

Yates, Dean, “ANALYSIS – Iraq’s Sadr avoiding fight with government,” Reuters, 6/16/08

Zahra, Hassan Abdul, “Iraq’s Sadr plans new armed group to fight US forces,” Agence France Presse, 6/13/08

>Drought Leads To Food And Grain Imports

>As reported before, Iraq is facing one of the worst droughts in decades. Rainfall in 2007 was down 40% according to Baghdad. Central and northern Iraq have been hit the hardest in places like Diyala, Ninewa, Dohuk, and Irbil. The Ministry of Agriculture noted that this was exacerbating the shrinking amount of arable land in the country, which is dropping 5% per year. Some of Iraq’s main crops have been devastated by this turn of events. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report called the situation a “disaster.” To deal with the problem, the government has announced plans to import thousands of tons of food and grain.

Baghdad declared that it would buy foreign foodstuffs to make up for the drop in domestic agriculture. That would have to account for wheat production that is down 27%, and a 60% reduction in barley. In the north, wheat farming has fallen 80-98%. To make up the difference, the government plans on spending $132 million on food imports. It will be buying 2.8 million tons of wheat for example, a 40% increase from last year.

Iraqi authorities have claimed they are providing aid to beleaguered farmers as well. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised $200 million to help with the drought. The Agriculture Ministry has been offering loans and fertilizer. A farming consultant that works for the U.S. however, claimed that this policy was a joke. He said that farmers usually can’t qualify for the loans, and needed to bribe officials if they really wanted one. He went on to say that the government was useless in this situation. The lack of electricity and fuel, which are necessary for irrigation pumps, and deteriorating infrastructure has also hampered Baghdad’s response.

To add to the difficulties, the severity of the drought is leading to some displacement. Agriculture is one of the largest employers in the country, and there are reports that farmers, especially, in the north, have begun leaving their land for towns and cities looking for employment. As an example, in July, when Iraqi forces launched an offensive in Diyala, U.S. and Iraqi forces came across the Fatamia village, which only had 3-4 families out of 30-40 still there. The military claimed the villagers had fled insurgents, but a resident said they had left because of the drought.

Because of these myriad problems, it’s not known when Iraq will recover from this drought. Farms have been devastated, the country is importing food, people are leaving rural areas, and the government as usual is not competent enough to really help. This comes on top of the financial problems Baghdad is running into with the huge drop in oil prices. The budget will probably run a deficit soon, which could imperial the import plan. The one bright spot is that in October there was rain. Whether this was a significant amount is not known. Until then Iraq will still be in this predicament.

For more on Iraq’s drought see:

United Nations Humanitarian Report On Iraq

More On Iraq’s Drought

Drought Update II

Drought Update

Iraq’s Drought

SOURCES

Haynes, Deborah, “Iraqis hunt for insurgents in Diyala unearths only ghost towns and drought,” Times of London, 7/29/08

Iraq Directory, “Iraq is Submitting a Tender to Buy 50 Thousand Tons of Wheat,” 11/25/08

Latif, Nizar, “Iraq in midst of ‘agricultural disaster,’” The National, 12/11/08

Rasheed, Ahmed and Ryan, Missy, “Iraq’s farm sector crumbling as drought bites,” Reuters, 10/24/08

Shatab, Ali, “Iraq to increase grain imports due to drop in local produce,” Azzaman, 5/16/08

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq Humanitarian Update,” October 2008

>Kenneth Pollack: Too Soon To Wave Victory Flag

>Kenneth Pollack is an Iraq analyst and senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. At the beginning of December 2008 he was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman from the Council on Foreign Relations. Pollack voiced his concerns over the future of Iraq, and U.S. policy. With a financial crisis hitting the United States and violence down in Iraq, he was afraid that the American government and public would forget about Iraq, and walk away when there was still much work to be done.

Pollack started his conversation with Gwertzman by expressing his concerns about America’s wherewithal in Iraq. Pollack said he was worried that the American public and its leaders thought the U.S. had achieved victory in Iraq. He believes that the country is still not stable, and that there are still major problems to be overcome. Some of these have the potential to bring Iraq back to the brink. This was happening at a time when the U.S. was reducing its role in the country, and has agreed to a 2011 deadline for combat troops to be out of the country under the Status of Forces Agreement. America has also been hit by a growing recession that will distract the public’s attention away from foreign affairs to domestic ones. It will also mean there are less resources available for Iraq. All together, Pollack was worried that the result would be America forgetting about what they started in the country.

In Iraq, the major problem that Pollack focused upon was the development of its political system. He warned that its government, parties, and institutions are still immature, and that there is an on-going struggle for power within the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for example, is centralizing authority in his office. Pollack doesn’t believe he has the ability to become a dictator, but his moves are worrying his partners, the Kurds and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. This has the potential to topple the government if one decides to have a no confidence vote in Maliki.

Another potential threat to stability is the growing strength of the Iraqi security forces. The Army is growing in capabilities and self-assuredness. With weak politicians, they could launch a military coup. Pollack first mentioned this possibility after a trip to Iraq back in May 2008. This may or may not have just happened with the arrests of several officers in the Interior Ministry recently.

The third problem Pollack mentioned is the continued division and marginalization of the country’s Sunnis. The Sunnis as a group are still not unified. The Sunni Accordance Front is the largest Sunni coalition, but they are widely unpopular, and one of its members, the Iraqi Islamic Party of Vice President Tariq Hashemi will probably loseWeight Exercise power in Anbar to the Awakening movement. Many tribes have also joined the Sons of Iraq program and hope to capitalize on that to run in the upcoming provincial elections. The problem is that they are not political parties or politicians who are organized to run campaigns, garner votes, or work the system. That means many may not be successful in the polling. More importantly, the state of disarray amongst them means that the Shiites and Kurds continue to exclude them from power.

Pollack finished his interview by urging America to stay focused and working on Iraq. He said that the U.S. needed to keep pressure on the Iraqi government, so that it makes the necessary compromises for national reconciliation. This is a paradox however, because the U.S.’s influence is declining, when it needs it to ensure a stable Iraq. Pollack has expressed similar opinions before in journal pieces, and is part of a larger group of Iraq analysts that believe America needs to stay in Iraq for the long haul until the country has overcome most of its problems.

Pollack is right, Iraq still has many issues that need to be resolved, but Americans probably won’t fix them. One major issue with Pollack’s argument is that the ruling parties may not want the same thing as Pollack and other Americans. For example, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said on several occasions that there has already been reconciliation in Iraq. The Accordance Front is part of the government, the parliament has passed the Amnesty Act and the Accountability and Justice Law to replace the old Debaathification process, as well as agreed to pay for and integrate the Sons of Iraq. Maliki therefore doesn’t see any reason to make any more compromises with the Sunnis. Not only that, but with the Sunnis divided, and their political parties weak, that gives more opportunities for the Shiites to gain power in central and northern Iraq. Lastly, why would Maliki give up centralizing authority around him? What kind of pressure could the Americans bring to bear, that would stop him? While he doesn’t have the ability to become a dictator, he could very well become more autocratic. His moves have upset his coalition so much, that there are already rumors that they may force him out of office. That leads to the last criticism. Pollack is calling for an open-ended commitment to Iraq, a country that may never turn out how he or other Americans want. If recent events point to anything, it’s that Iraqis will determine their own future, not the U.S.

SOURCES

Aswat al-Iraq, “National reconciliation behind security improvement – PM,” 12/4/08

Biddle, Stephen, Nasr, Vali, Nash, William, “Political and Security Developments in Iraq and the Region,” Council on Foreign Relations, 6/12/08

Biddle, Stephen, O’Hanlon, Michael, and Pollack, Kenneth, “How to Leave a Stable Iraq, Building on Progress in Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2008

Gwertzman, Bernard, “Despite Security Improvements, Iraq Remains ‘Very Troubled Country,’” Council on Foreign Relations, 12/10/08

Robertson, Campbell and Maher, Tareq, “An Inquiry in Baghdad Is Clouded by Politics,” New York Times, 12/18/08

Salman, Raheem and Parker, Ned, “Iraq detains police officials, including Interior Ministry generals,” Los Angeles Times, 12/18/08