A Conversation with Ahmed Ali

Last week, our executive director Erik sat down with Ahmed Ali to discuss the challenges facing Iraq’s education system, and the value of programs like PHOTOVOICE IRAQ: Picturing Change.  Ahmed is not only an Iraq analyst and scholar whose work has been published in Foreign Policy Magazine and the Arab Reform Bulletin and whose commentary is featured on international news, he also has the rare distinction of being a former EPIC staff member!  We’d like to share the conversation with you.

Read more

>The U.S. Needs To Save Iraq From Itself Says Analyst

>Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution has been one of the long-time American commentators on Iraq. He recently wrote a piece for The National Interest journal entitled “The Battle for Baghdad”. In it he argues that Iraqis, left to their own devices will destroy the gains made in Iraq since the Surge. He warns that the older political parties that took over after the 2003 invasion are still clinging to power, and are willing to bring down Iraqi democracy to maintain their positions. According to Pollack the only thing standing in the way of this happening is the United States. Even that is endangered because of the moves of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Like most of his think tank counterparts, Pollack is arguing for a long-term American diplomatic and military presence in Iraq to act as peacekeepers and mediators. Without them Pollack believes that Iraqis will only think about their own short-term interests to the detriment of the country.

Pollack begins with two conversations he had with Iraq politicians after the January 2009 provincial elections. The first was with a group that was opposed to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They started off assuring Pollack that they had enough supporters for a no confidence vote against the Prime Minister in parliament, but in the end they admitted that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council opposed this idea because it would go against the recent balloting that was in Maliki’s favor. The absence of Hakim’s support was considered a deal breaker. This represents one dynamic of the post sectarian war status quo in Iraq where many of the disputes are now political, and groups abide by the broad rules of the constitution and electoral system. On the other hand, Pollack met with a group of Dawa officials who were sure that Maliki would win in the 2010 parliamentary vote after his victory in 2009. They said the Prime Minister would run on services and security, and blame his opponents for any setbacks, something that’s actually happened recently. On the other hand when these politicians were asked about Maliki creating extra-judicial bodies and going outside standard procedures in the government they attempted to dodge the issues by saying that this was necessary because Iraq’s bureaucracy didn’t work and different political parties controlled the ministries and often didn’t listen to Maliki. This represented the other side of Iraq’s system where many believe that the Prime Minister is acting like leaders of the past and centralizing all authority around himself, which could intentionally or not lead to autocratic rule. To Pollack, this is the ying and the yang of Iraq. On the one hand democracy is taking root however precariously, on the other hand, there are plenty of forces in the country that threaten it.

There are two other issues that Pollack worries about. One is that Iraqi nationalism is making a comeback. This is helping to heal some of the wounds between Sunnis and Shiites created during the sectarian war. On the other hand, Iraqi nationalism is often interpreted as being solely Arab in character and anti-Kurdish. Maliki is playing on this by attempting to militarily confront the Kurds across the disputed territories in the north. There have been several times this has almost turned into shooting, only averted by the presence of U.S. forces. Pollack wonders if Maliki actually resents this outside interference, because he may want a confrontation with the Kurds so that he can rally the Arab public around him. Second, are the old Iraqi parties that have ruled Iraq since the 2005 elections. While he doesn’t name them, he is implying the Supreme Council, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Iraqi Accordance Front, all of which either controlled their own militia or had contacts with the insurgency, and used these armed factions to gain political power. Pollack believes that these groups are trying to cling to power, and will do whatever it takes to do so. In the 2010 election for example, they are pushing for a closed list voting system where the electorate only gets to pick from coalitions instead of individuals because this gives party bosses, rather than the public, control over the politicians and government. Pollack thinks both of these are threats to stability and democracy, because Maliki and the old guard parties are only thinking about their own personal gain rather than the future of the country.

Pollack’s solution to all of these problems is a long-term American presence in Iraq. According to him, the U.S. needs to stay to provide support to the government and mediate conflicts. Only the U.S. he writes can help solve the problems between Baghdad and Kurdistan over disputed areas like Kirkuk and federalism. The U.S. needs to make sure that Iraqi prisoners and the Sons of Iraq are treated well. The U.S. needs to push the government to protect minorities. The U.S. needs to pressure Baghdad to increase its capacity and improve the bureaucracy. The Americans need to make sure that party bosses don’t take over the elections, and push for a closed list voting system. The U.S. needs to deal with Maliki’s attempt to centralize power, and corruption. In a nutshell, Pollack believes the U.S. is the only party in Iraq that will think about Iraq. The main lever of influence the U.S. has to achieve this laundry list of items is aid. U.S. advisors still partner with Iraqi units, the security forces are dependent upon the Americans for maintenance and supply, the Iraqi government has U.S. advisors throughout, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams are essential parts of the rebuilding provinces out in the governorates, and the U.S. still provides a large amount of economic aid and advice. All of this assistance needs to be made conditional based upon Baghdad’s compliance with the long list of reforms listed above. This is something many other American think tank writers have argued for over the last few years.

There is one major impediment to overcome to actually achieving this according to Pollack, Prime Minister Maliki. The Prime Minister seems to have an inflated sense of the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces and is playing politics with the U.S. presence. Maliki thinks that the Iraqi forces are going to be ready sooner rather than later so he wants to cut many of the public ties with the U.S. like joint patrols with U.S. forces and the blast walls in Baghdad. More importantly he is pushing for a referendum on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to coincide with the 2010 parliamentary vote. This will give Maliki a powerful tool to run on so he can portray himself as the leader that got the Americans to leave Iraq. He can also use it against his opposition since many support a longer stay for U.S. forces to protect against Maliki’s excesses. If the Iraqi public votes down the SOFA, a definite possibility, than Pollack is afraid U.S. influence will end that election day. A main priority then should be Washington lobbying Maliki to move the referendum to some other time.

Therein lies a major problem with Pollack and others who take this line of argument for a long-term U.S. role in Iraq. There is no real reason for Maliki to change the referendum date because holding it the same time as national balloting will benefit him the most. He has already given up many forms of American military assistance since the June 30, 2009 withdrawal from Iraq’s cities, and that is the greatest piece of leverage the U.S. holds. Iraqi domestic politics is a much greater force now than U.S. influence. The White House therefore, could make all kinds of assistance conditional, and the Iraqis might still not listen. Iraq may turn out to be the prodigal son for the United States, but Pollack and others can’t seem to let go. Ultimately, they seem afraid of Iraqis running their own affairs. Pollack in “The Battle for Baghdad” just happens to be the most explicit in voicing this opinion.


Biddle, Stephen, “Reversal in Iraq,” Center for Preventative Action Council on Foreign Relations, May 2009

Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraq: A Time To Stay?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 7/30/09

DPA, “Al-Maliki courts Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders,” 8/11/09

Nagl, John and Burton, Brian, “After the Fire: Shaping the Future U.S. Relationship with Iraq,” Center for a New American Security, June 2009

Nordland, Rod, “Bombs Hurt Maliki Case That Iraq Can Guard Itself,” New York Times, 8/21/09

Pollack, Kenneth, “The Battle for Baghdad,” The National Interest, September/October 2009

Administration Needs to Prepare Congress and Public For A Long Stay In Iraq Says Iraq Analyst

As U.S. combat troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq’s cities, Anthony Cordesman, one of the top military analysts on Iraq from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that the administration needs to build up support for a long-term presence there. This is a position that he has consistently called for. Cordesman worries that too much emphasis is being put on withdrawal, when the goal should be institutionalizing support for Iraq so that it can become a strong U.S. ally in the region. This is especially important because Cordesman does not believe that the U.S. has won in Iraq, but rather will continue to face challenges there before Iraq becomes a stabile and independent state. Cordesman wrote about these issues in a memorandum to General Ray Odierno after a recent trip to Iraq.

The main problems America faces in Iraq today are not what they use to be. Violence is down, and the Iraqi security forces are better. The sectarian war is over, and he does not believe that the Sunnis and Shiites want to return to fighting each other. Rather the main divisions today are over politics. The two main ones are between Arabs and Kurds, and with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his critics. The ethnic divisions are now the most pressing issue in his opinion as tensions are rising between Arabs and Kurds, and the two sides are losing patience with each other. Politically, Iraq is still dealing with integrating the Sunnis, and they themselves still lack strong leadership. This struggle has now become entangled with the Prime Minister, as the Sunnis have become the major opponent of Maliki trying to assert power.

Iraq faces an additional problem developing its economy. Iraq is almost completely dependent upon oil for revenues. That industry and the rest are all underdeveloped. Iraq needs to diversify, and open up to foreign investment so that it can build up its infrastructure and provide better services. The Iraqi government has been incapable of doing either so far, even with better security. Cordesman believes that Baghdad lacks the knowledge of how to create effective business deals and legislation, and politicians are too caught up in either defending their country against the perceived threats of foreign corporations or thinking about the possible profits, rather than on how to make things better.

Cordesman believes that these two issues will require constant attention and mediation by the Americans. The main tool he believes in using is aid. First, the U.S. needs to maintain its level of financial assistance flowing to Iraq. This is especially hard now with most Americans focused upon getting out of Iraq and the economic crisis at home. The U.S. also needs to help with the country’s political and economic troubles. American aid and mediation for example, could help integrate the Kurdish peshmerga into the security forces, an idea that is now dead due to the political divisions. This could assure the Kurds of security, while allowing Baghdad to continue with its plans of expanding its military. On the economic side, the U.S. should provide business models for Iraq to improve their contacts with foreign companies. The Americans have been working to revive the State Owned Enterprises, which have the potential to add much needed jobs as well. The U.S. should also get the World Bank involved with development more because the U.S. presence will shrink with the withdrawal of combat forces. To accomplish this the U.S. needs to maintain both military and civilian advisers in Iraq past the 2011 deadline for withdrawal.

Cordesman found that some planning for this is already being done in Iraq. The military especially is trying to transition from a security operation to a rebuilding mode. He did not see as much evidence of that on the civilian side however. Too many political and economic plans he saw were focused upon finishing specific programs rather than looking at the bigger picture of what needs to be done in the future.

Overall, Cordesman argues that the U.S. will be remembered for what they leave behind in Iraq, rather than on how they got there. The U.S. military and diplomatic staff in Iraq is thinking this way, but he’s not sure Washington is. Too much emphasis is being put on short-term goals such as pulling out of the cities this summer, and the withdrawal in 2011. Cordesman, like many other American Iraq experts, believes that the U.S. should have a long-term presence in Iraq that may last as long as 2020 or further. Unless the administration begins setting the groundwork for this by telling the public and Congress of the sacrifices needed, and the journey ahead, no one will support it, and Cordesman worries that will mean all the blood and money spent in Iraq will go to waste.

This will ultimately come down to whether President Obama wants to make this kind of commitment. There will be a diplomatic presence in Iraq no matter what. His real task is deciding on whether he will maintain troops there or not. He has been very open to his military commanders, and they will assuredly ask for tens of thousands of American advisers to stay past 2011. Coming up with the money for a robust assistance package however after most combat troops are out will be much harder as the public and Congress have already lost interest in Iraq.

The main problem with Cordesman and other similar analysts is that they often overlook the system of dependence the Iraqis have built up upon the Americans, which a long-term presence will only continue. Cordesman mentions this once when discussing the opening of the oil sector to foreign investment. He writes that Baghdad has offered oil contracts, but then expects Washington to do the rest of the work, pushing international companies to sign them. This is true for a whole range of other issues as well. As reported earlier, the U.S. has spent millions trying to build up the maintenance and logistics capacity of the Iraqi Army, but they have refused responsibility for much of it, leading to the Americans to do most of the work instead. The Americans need to get the Iraqis to do more rather than hold their hands for the next ten years. That’s basically what Cordesman and others want the administration to do. They want every issue in Iraq to be dealt with before a full withdrawal. This will not be like the U.S. presence in South Korea either as President Bush once suggested, because Iraq is likely to see violence during that entire stay. The Obama White House needs to do a cost-benefit analysis of what its willing to expend on Iraq, and how much responsibility they want to have for it because Cordesman, other Iraq experts, and the U.S. military are asking for an open-ended commitment.


Cordesman, Anthony, “Observations From a Visit to Iraq,” 6/15/09

Gwertzman, Bernard, “U.S. ‘Winning’ Unpopular War in Iraq, but ‘Losing’ Popular War in Afghanistan,” Council on Foreign Relations, 9/8/08

Nagl, John and Burton, Brian, “After the Fire: Shaping the Future U.S. Relationship with Iraq,” Center for a New American Security, June 2009

>Center for a New American Security – Maintain The Status Quo In Iraq

>In June 2009 the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a position paper on what U.S. policy towards Iraq should be under the new administration entitled, “After the Fire: Shaping the Future U.S. Relationship with Iraq.” The two authors, John Nagl, a famous former Army officer, and Brian Burton argue that the U.S. should foster Iraq as a long-term ally in the Middle East. The problem is that the U.S. is pulling out, the American public has grown tired of the war, and there is a recession. The CNAS paper worries that short-term thinking will outweigh the long-term goal of the U.S. to have stability in the Middle East. Almost all of the paper’s recommendations however are already being implemented, so what it’s really about is asking for the status quo to be maintained in Iraq past the U.S. withdrawal.

The paper sees four major challenges for the U.S. in Iraq. First, is the increasing divide between Arabs and Kurds. As reported before, a recent journal piece in Middle East Policy argued that this dispute could lead to the fall of the government, become a new source of violence, and even break up the country. Second, is integration of the Sunnis, who still need to find their place in the new political order. Third, is whether Iraq will slide back to authoritarianism. As a paper by two United States Institute of Peace officials recently noted, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now at the center of Iraqi politics. His opponents are worried that he may become an autocrat. Finally, Iraq’s future is threatened by its over reliance upon oil, which provides almost all of its revenue. The economic downturn has affected Baghdad’s hopes for development, jobs, services, and maintaining the security forces to name just a few.

To meet these challenges and ensure that Iraq is a long-term ally, the CNAS paper suggests five strategies Washington should follow. To deal with the Arab-Kurd divide, the U.S. should act as mediators, and support the United Nations effort to resolve the disputed territories, especially Kirkuk. The U.S. is already trying to help talks between the two sides across northern Iraq, and has stepped in to stop military confrontations. The U.S. also backs the U.N.’s plans for the disputed territories. With regards to the integration of the Sunnis, the writers believe supporting elections is the best course of action. The U.S. has been largely unsuccessful pushing Baghdad to reconcile with the Sunnis, so backing free and open voting where Sunni parties can gain power is the best alternative. This is something Washington has done since 2005. The U.S. also needs to help Iraq diversify its economy. CNAS suggests agriculture should be cultivated. The last few Defense Department quarterly reports to Congress have said the same thing. The problem is that Iraq’s farm sector faces so many institutional barriers such as a lack of tariffs and government support, inadequate irrigation, etc. that it could take over a decade for it to recover. To prevent the return of an autocratic leader in Iraq, the two writers suggest supporting institutions and professionalism. The U.S. already has advisers throughout the Iraqi military and ministries. Washington should also emphasize that it stands behind the Iraqi government, and not just Maliki, something that the Obama administration has already done as well. Finally, to encourage Iraq as a long-term ally the U.S. needs to re-integrate it into the region, and foster more ties between Washington and Baghdad. Getting Iraq’s neighbors to accept the Shiite led government in Baghdad has proven more difficult than expected. Countries like Saudi Arabia have given Iraq a cold shoulder since the invasion. Turkey on the other hand has changed its policy and become much closer recently. Other steps could be bringing more Iraqi military officers and students for training and education in the United States. The authors also believe that the U.S. needs to keep both civilian and military advisers in Iraq past the 2011 deadline for a U.S. withdrawal of combat troops.

Almost everything that the CNAS paper advocates is already being done by the U.S. administration. It is working with the Iraqi government and military, it is trying to mediate internal disputes, it is helping with the economy, it is trying to bring its allies in the region to open up to Baghdad, etc. The only question is whether President Obama will be open to keeping up this support for Iraq after 2011. That’s what “After the Fire” is really about, trying to ensure that all of these programs are maintained into 2012 and beyond.


Anatolia News Agency, “Turkish general says MoU between Turkey and Iraq to contribute to peace,” Today’s Zaman, 6/12/09

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” March 2009
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” September 2008
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” December 2008

Al-Hayat, “US ambassador to Iraq offers to mediate between Kurds, Arabs in Mosul – paper,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, 6/4/09

International Crisis Group, “Oil For Soil: Toward A Grand Bargain On Iraq And The Kurds,” 10/28/08

Kazimi, Nibras, “Iraq: Trouble for Maliki,” Hudson New York, 4/24/09

Nagl, John and Burton, Brian, “After the Fire: Shaping the Future U.S. Relationship with Iraq,” Center for a New American Security, June 2009

Serwer, Daniel and Parker, Sam, “Maliki’s Iraq between Two Elections,” United States Institute of Peace, May 2009

Stansfield, Gareth Anderson, Liam, “Kurds in Iraq: the struggle between Baghdad and Erbil,” Middle East Policy, Spring 2009

Williams, Timothy and al-Salhy, Saudad, “Allotting of Iraqi Oil Rights May Stoke Hostility,” New York Times, 5/29/09

>What If Iraq Goes Bad? Position Paper by Stephen Biddle, Council On Foreign Relations

>Stephen Biddle is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been one of the leading writers on Iraq, and was a consultant to General David Petraeus while he was commander in Iraq. This month, May 2009, he released a new report, “Reversal In Iraq.” In it he goes through four scenarios that might reverse course in Iraq, and then finishes off by saying that the U.S. needs to extend its deployment to make sure the gains made are maintained, and Iraq moves towards stability.

Biddle begins his paper by warning that the advances made in Iraq are fragile. This is something that the U.S. military command in the country has repeatedly said. Biddle believes that Iraq is in the beginning of a negotiated settlement to a civil war. In the 23 cases of similar conflicts that Biddle studied from 1940 to 1992, 10 failed within five years of a cease-fire. That is one reason why Biddle calls for caution. The added difficulty in Iraq is that the peace deals made there were all haphazard. Biddle counts over 200 separate negotiations that involved the U.S. and insurgents, tribes, and militias. In none of them was the Iraqi government involved. Now the country is dealing with the aftermath as most sides still distrust each other, and are trying to feel their way forward. This is by nature an unstable situation, made the more so by the bitterness left over by the sectarian war that raged from 2006-2007. Biddle believes that one little flare up could have unintended consequences and renew the fighting. Fortunately, conditions still favor cease-fires in Iraq.

The first situation that threatens this new status quo is the possible emergence of a strong man. That comes in the form of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has been amassing power in his office, and over the central government and security forces. He has also been taking on his opponents. One are the largely Sunni Sons of Iraq (SOI) units put together by the U.S. that are at the heart of many of the cease-fires in the country. Because each neighborhood has its own SOI leader Maliki has been able to pick off selected ones individually. By starting off with the ones that actually had bad backgrounds or committed crimes he has been able to avoid criticism from the United States. That was the case with the beginning of the government’s latest crackdown that began in March 2009 with the arrest of Adel Mashadani, the head of the SOI in the Fadhil area of Baghdad. U.S. forces backed up the Iraqis in the raid and ensuing firefight. The Americans later said that the arrest was legitimate, and repeated the Iraqi charges against him. The U.S. has said little about the subsequent arrests. Biddle is unsure whether Maliki really wants to be an autocrat or whether he is simply an opportunist trying to grab power when a situation presents itself. The problem Biddle sees is that the Prime Minister may overstep himself and lead to renewed fighting. Then again, with the multitude of unorganized Sunni units, Maliki may be able to manage the situation while eliminating the SOI piece by piece.

The most dangerous threat to long-term stability in Iraq is the Kurdish-Arab divide. In disputed areas like Kirkuk there is oil, a history of abuse under the former regime, competing claims for property rights, and a complete unwillingness to budge on any issue. Mosul is a similar situation. This conflict has allowed Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups to find sanctuary in the north, while they have largely been forced out of the rest of the country by portraying themselves as the protectors of the Arabs against the Kurds. As reported several times before, Prime Minister Maliki is involved in this dispute as well, trying to align himself with the Sunni Arabs of the north to pressure the Kurds.

Another issue that might lead to renewed conflict in Iraq is a possible spillover from an Israeli attack on Iran. If Israel were to bomb Tehran’s nuclear facilities, that could lead to Shiite militia attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq since the Americans will be blamed for Israel’s actions. This seems the most unlikely of Biddle’s scenarios.

Fourth, a precipitous U.S. withdrawal might undermine all of the advances made in Iraq. Biddle believes that in many civil wars foreign peacekeepers are crucial to maintaining cease-fires. Many U.S. forces are no longer directly involved in combat operations and are now acting just like peacekeepers trying to mediate conflicts, help with reconstruction, providing basic services, etc. Biddle argues that if the U.S. were to leave too soon before real stability is achieved, the new status quo might deteriorate. That could bring in Iraq’s neighbors and bring down the entire region. A problem with this is that Iraq has already gone through a sectarian civil war where foreign countries were supporting different sides, and the conflict did not spread outside of Iraq.

Biddle concludes by calling for a longer stay for U.S. forces in Iraq. Looking at the American experience in Bosnia and Kosovo, he says that 50,000-70,000 American troops should remain in Iraq past the 2011 deadline set by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). He even suggests that the U.S. might renegotiate the deal to allow for this. In the meantime he says that the U.S. should use all of its remaining influence to moderate the actions of Prime Minister Maliki. The U.S. still has sway with financial institutions, international organizations, and offers military assistance to the Iraqis. The problem is U.S. sway in Iraq is diminishing as the Obama administration is committed to withdrawal and Maliki is feeling more independent by the day.

Stephen Biddle has often made this argument. He and many other analysts from American think tanks are worried about what will happen after the U.S. leaves, so therefore they err on the side of caution. This is a view shared by the American commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno and General David Petraeus, the head of the Central Command that has responsibility for the Middle East as well. They originally argued for a 23-month timeline for pulling out U.S. troops. Not being discussed publicly now, but Biddle and his compatriots may get their way. The Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadis Jasim said in 2008 that his forces will not be fully independent and capable of defending Iraq’s borders until 2020. The country is still in the process of buying heavy military equipment. The Air Force for example has no jet fighters, the army no artillery. In April 2009, the head of the Iraqi Air Force said they want to buy 96 F-16 fighters from the U.S. Baghdad has no money for such purchases right now however because of its budget problems. That could push back the 2020 date even further. Since either side can amend the SOFA, it’s very likely that Baghdad will ask a sizeable contingent of Americans to stay in the country past December 2011 until it’s ready to protect its own territory from both internal and external threats. The problem with Biddle’s paper is that there is no telling whether a longer stay will have any affect upon Iraq’s internal politics. Can Maliki be moderated? Can the Arab-Kurdish dispute be resolved? The U.S. hasn’t stopped Maliki’s crackdown on the SOI, and is deferring to the United Nations to resolve disputed territories in the north, and this is with over 100,000 troops in the country. Biddle and others may be misled into thinking that the U.S. has more influence within Iraq that it actually does.

For other reports by Iraq experts see:

Norwegian Institute’s Policy Paper On The Way Forward In Iraq

Kenneth Pollack: Too Soon To Wave Victory Flag

Reidar Visser On Obama’s Options In Iraq

Withdrawal Instead of Patience As Center of U.S. Strategy In Iraq

Iraq Needs Real Governance Center for Strategic and International Studies Report Says

Cordesman Interview: U.S. Needs To Stay For The Long Haul In Iraq

Council on Foreign Relations-Brookings’ Experts Call for Patience In Iraq

Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Report on Iraqi Forces

Council on Foreign Relations and Brookings Institution Experts Voice Their Opinions After Recent Trip To Iraq

Is Iraq Going To End Up Like Eastern Europe?


Alsumaria, “Iraq to purchase F-16 fighters this year,” 4/1/09

Biddle, Stephen, “Reversal in Iraq,” Center for Preventative Action Council on Foreign Relations, May 2009

C-Span Video, “Stephen Biddle, Military Consultant To Gen. David Petraeus,” 9/10/07

Carter, Chelsea, “Falling oil prices stymie Iraq’s security spending,” Associated Press, 3/1/09

Gray, Andrew, “U.S. commanders favor slower Iraq pullout,” Reuters, 2/7/09

Londono, Ernesto, “Plunging Oil Prices Force Iraq to Cut Security Jobs,” Washington Post, 5/18/09

Missing Links Blog, “Iraqi forces to be ready by the year 2020, according to plan,” 8/11/08

Nordland, Rod, “Rebellious Sunni Council Disarmed After Clashes, Officials in Baghdad Say,” New York Times, 3/31/09

Reid, Robert, “ANALYSIS: Weekend uprising shows Iraqi tensions,” Associated Press, 3/31/09

Rubin, Alissa and Nordland, Rod, “Troops Arrest an Awakening Council Leader in Iraq, Setting Off Fighting,” New York Times, 3/29/09