THE BLOG
12/04/2007 11:09 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/04/07

GAO REFUTES PENTAGON CLAIMS OF IRAQI SECURITY FORCES READINESS AND CAPABILITIES

Violence and corruption hampers Iraqi forces from operating effectively. The Government Accountability Office noted that "...persistent violence and sectarianism, along with immature ministerial capacity, continue to impede this progress." Iraqis have not made enough progress toward learning to manage their security forces because they have had to divert too much attention to continued violence and sectarianism, according to the GAO. For example, Iraqi recruits to the Army who were designated for training as logistics specialists have been diverted to combat roles, said the report by the Government Accountability Office. "While the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, with coalition assistance, made some progress since August 2006 in developing their respective logistics, command and control, and intelligence capabilities... persistent violence and sectarianism, along with immature ministerial capacity, continue to impede this progress," the report said. [USA Today, 12/4/07]

"As a result of DOD's lack of clarity, Congress and other decision makers may not obtain a clear picture of the progress" of the Iraqi forces in becoming independent of U.S. forces. The report also criticized the terminology the Pentagon uses for assessing the progress of Iraqi forces. While the Defense Department has, in multiple reports, stated that a certain number of (Iraqi) units are either "independent" or "fully independent," it is unclear how the military arrived at the determination, the report said. It noted that in a number of reports in which the Department of Defense has asserted that a certain number of Iraqi units are independent, it has appeared to contradict itself by adding qualifiers. For example, defense officials reported in June that a certain number of units were either "in the lead" or "fully independent" -- then added the forces "often do not get the support they require without substantial coalition assistance." Also, the report suggested that the Iraqi forces cannot be considered independent as long as neither of the ministries in charge of them have developed the abilities to logistically sustain their forces, effectively command and control their forces, and provide intelligence to their forces. [USA Today, 12/4/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE IN IRAQ

Iraqi official shot to death in Baghdad. Police say that Maj. Gen. Fawzi Mohammed Hussein, an advisor at the Information Ministry, was gunned down while driving in western Baghdad. The ministry oversees the police, which last month lost 46 officers to violence. The slaying was a sign of the ongoing threat facing state employees, seen as collaborators with the U.S.-backed government. [LA Times, 12/4/07]

School principal killed in Samarra. The principal was killed in Samarra, about 70 miles northwest of Baghdad. According to reports, two men opened fire on the unidentified school official's car. More than 300 educational employees have been killed since the start of the war. [LA Times, 12/4/07]

IRAQ CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE WITH SECTARIAN DIVISIONS

Debate continued on measure to reinstate Ba'athists. However, no action was taken on the bill, which would expand employment opportunities in government for people who were members of Saddam Hussein's ruling Ba'ath Party. The bill is the first of the "benchmarks" sought by the Bush Administration to prove Iraqi political progress to even reach parliament. When the bill was first debated last week, the session quickly dissolved. Iraqi lawmakers continue to show little sign that they can put aside sectarian differences in order to pass key legislation. [LA Times, 12/4/07]

Sunni Arab lawmakers have ended boycott of politics in Kirkuk.
The Arab lawmakers, who have boycotted politics in the city for the last year, ended the boycott after the Kurdish majority agreed to allot one-third of government jobs to Arabs and appoint an Arab as deputy governor. The measure is a way for Sunni Arabs in the region to gain more power despite holding only six of the council's 41 seats. The move comes just after it was announced a planned referendum on Kirkuk's status was delayed until next year. The vote will decide whether Kirkuk will join Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region to the north or continue to be governed by Baghdad. [AP, 12/4/07]

REFUGEE CRISIS CONTINUES

25,000 refugees have returned to Iraq since mid-September. However, that number represents a fraction of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqis who fled to Syria to escape violence in Iraq. Some improvements, the agency noted, drew the refugees back, though it added that visa restrictions and a lack of money were also forcing people back. The agency said many returnees found squatters in their homes and had had to seek sanctuary elsewhere, leading to a rise in the number of people displaced within Iraq. The Iraqi government has reported a much larger number of Iraqis were returning from Syria, placing the number at 60,000. [NY Times, 12/4/07]