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NSN Iraq Daily Update 1/9/08

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THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS DETACHED FROM REALITY

President Bush declared that in 2007 Iraq "has become incredibly successful beyond anybody's expectations." The President came to this conclusion after an hour-long session videoconference session involving three Provisional Reconstructive Team leaders. With al-Maliki's government achieving little progress on legislative reforms seen as key to tamping down sectarian violence, Bush and his team now are counting more on spurring changes in the provinces that would then force the central government to act. Many PRT leaders complain that efforts are being hampered by the government in Baghdad -- "the prime minister's office primarily," said one. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented that "It is a failure of leadership when our president calls 2007 incredibly successful beyond anybody's expectations when the Iraqi government has done so little to achieve stability and it has been the most lethal year yet for American troops," they said in a statement. [AP, 1/9/08]

CAREER STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES DISAGREE WITH IRAQ POLICY

U.S. diplomats are critical of Administration's policies. Nearly half of U.S. diplomats who do not want to serve in Iraq say a key reason is because they do not support the Bush administration's policies there, according to a union survey released on Tuesday. The survey by the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the diplomatic corps, not political appointees, also found that most U.S. diplomats were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of resources. As a result of recent events, many said they are not planning on finishing their careers with the Foreign Service. Diplomats say this discontent is growing, especially among the rank and file. [Reuters, 1/8/08]

THE U.S. STILL CANNOT TRUST THE IRAQ SECURITY FORCES

Despite secrecy, U.S. attack in Iraq is no surprise to insurgents. American troops began a major offensive Tuesday to drive Sunni insurgents from Diyala Province. Seven American battalions, accompanied by Iraqi Army units, pushed into the fertile Diyala River Valley, is part of a wider operation across northern Iraq to drive extremists from the region. Many of the extremists are thought to have fled here before an offensive around Baghdad and in Anbar Province last June. Thus, American planners deliberately kept most Iraqi units in the dark before this offensive, a tactic that suggests they cannot fully trust their Iraqi allies. Despite the secrecy, many insurgents still managed to flee the first villages the Americans entered. [NY Times, 1/9/08]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNABATED

Baghdad armed volunteers seized. Up to 10 members of a local volunteer security forced were kidnapped at a checkpoint in Shaab district of northeast Baghdad, when gunmen drew up in several cars and took them away. The attack marks the latest in a number of extremist attacks on the U.S.-backed armed volunteer forces, known as Awakening Councils. [BBC, 1/8/07]