THE BLOG
01/16/2008 10:38 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 1/16/08

GAO: FAULTY DATA USED BY BUSH ADMINISTRATION IN "BENCHMARK" REPORT

The Bush administration claims Baghdad spent 24% of their capital projects budget, but the GAO says that Iraq's official expenditure reports only 4.4% was spent. The study released Tuesday by the GAO focused specifically on whether Iraqis were spending their capital budget (money spent on Iraq's infrastructure). Capital projects make up 90% of the Iraq's investment budget. The new GAO report said the administration number in the September assessment greatly exaggerated capital project spending partly because it had included money from 2006 as well as money that the Iraqis had committed themselves to spending but had not yet spent. "We do not believe these data should be used to draw firm conclusions about whether the Iraqi government is making progress in executing its capital projects budget," the GAO said of the administration's figures. Shown a draft of the study, U.S. Treasury Department and State Department officials said the GAO's much lower figure had not counted capital spending put in other parts of the Iraqi budget. But they could not provide any documentation to verify that, GAO said. [AP, 1/15/08]

MORTARS HIT GREEN ZONE FOR FIRST TIME IN MONTHS

Mortars again targeting Baghdad's Green Zone. After several months of relative quiet, fighters believed allied with Iran have resumed mortar and rocket attacks, with several big blasts heard shortly after dawn on Wednesday as well as a few more later in the morning. On Tuesday night, at least five mortars crashed into the fortified Green Zone, site of the American Embassy and Iraqi government, not long after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a news conference after making an unannounced visit. Two Mahdi Army commanders have told The Associated Press the uptick in mortar and rocket attacks is not the work of their organization, which continues its cease-fire. Instead, they said the attacks are the work of a new organization with ties to Iran. The group, called Italat, which means "intelligence" in Farsi, was formerly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's liaison to the Mahdi Army and its rogue factions, the commanders said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to advertise their jobs to the U.S. military. [AP, 1/15/08]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNABATED

Female suicide bomber kills 8 in Diyala Province, just north of Baghdad. A woman wearing a vest lined with explosives blew herself up near a popular market and Shi'a mosque in turbulent Diyala province Wednesday, killing eight civilians -- the latest in a growing number of female suicide attacks. Seven people were wounded in the bombing in Khan Bani Saad, a town nine miles south of Baqouba, Diyala's provincial capital. Wednesday's bombing was the fourth female suicide attack in Iraq in three months, and all have taken place in Diyala province. In other attacks Wednesday, a roadside bomb exploded at 8 a.m. in the commercial Bab al-Muadham district of Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding four. The blast appeared to target a passing police car but instead hit a civilian car, a police officer said. About the same time, another roadside bomb went off southeast of Baghdad at an intersection where U.S. and Iraqi troops often pass, police said. The attack killed one civilian and wounded four others. In northern Iraq, police said a suicide bomber blew up his car in an attack against a U.S. convoy in the al-Maliya district east of the city of Mosul. [AP, 1/15/08]

UN: IRAQ LACKS SPIRIT OF RECONCILIATION

U.N. says Iraq lacks spirit of reconciliation. The United Nations' Baghdad envoy said on Wednesday that Iraq lacks any true spirit of reconciliation. Staffan de Mistura maintains that there is still no trust between the Shi'a dominated cabinet and Sunni Muslims, warning that Iraq was running out of time. He said that Iraq had six months to make political progress. "After that, the former insurgents may be tempted to return to violence and we must absolutely avoid that. We see a light at the end of the tunnel but we have to move quickly," he said. [Reuters, 1/16/08]

IRAQI HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN DISARRAY

Iraq healthcare in disarray, report says. Iraq's healthcare is in disarray with doctors and nurses fleeing abroad and child death rates soaring, according to a report by health organization Medact. Up to 75 percent of Iraq's doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated. "The health system is in disarray, not only because of the underlying security, but owing to the lack of an institutional framework, huge staff shortages, intermittent electricity, unsafe water supply and frequent violations of medical neutrality," the report said. [Reuters, 1/16/08]