THE BLOG
12/19/2007 10:04 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 12/19/07

BAGHDAD IS SQUANDERING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR RECONCILIATION

Pentagon says "more needs to be done to foster national, 'top-down' reconciliation to sustain the gains." U.S. forces have achieved security advances in Iraq over the past three months, though national reconciliation -- key for an eventual US withdrawal -- remains elusive, according to the Pentagon report released on Tuesday. "National reconciliation is required for long-term stability but continues to be hindered by slow progress and competing interests." Key benchmarks Washington is using to measure progress are the adoption of a law regulating the oil and gas industry, and a law allowing former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party back into the government. "The key long term success will be the government of Iraq's ability to capitalize upon local gains, pass key legislations and promote national reconciliation," yet "sustained and durable progress [still depends] on further progress in attaining political and economic objectives," the report warns. [AP, 12/18/07]

SECTARIAN POLITICKING-- AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT--IS BLOCKING RECONCILIATION

Sunni tribal groups "may return to violence or form new militias" due to lack of integration and economic opportunities. Prime Minister Maliki's Shi'a government has long looked upon these groups with mistrust, despite the fact that the Sunni tribes have organized to combat Islamists. Shi'a and Sunni legislators recently clashed over the controversial de-Baathification measure, which is stalled in the Iraqi parliament. Corruption and sectarian strife within the Ministry of Interior -- in charge of Iraq's police -- remains a major problem, while corruption "at all levels of the oil industry remains a significant problem." The report notes that the Maliki administration has also failed to improve the supply of water and electricity. [AP, 12/18/07]

UN EXTENDS AUTHORIZATION OF FORCE THROUGH 2008

The U.N. Security Council voted to extend PM Maliki's "final request" for help. The unanimous vote will authorize the 160,000-strong multinational force until the end of 2008 because "the threat in Iraq continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security," according to the resolution. If the authorization was to be renewed for 2009, the Security Council would have to consider Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's request, in a letter on Dec. 7 to the Security Council's president, that "this is to be the final request... for the extension of the mandate" for the U.S.-led force. [AP, 12/18/07]

U.S. CLAIMING THEY DID NOT HELP TURKEY ATTACK NORTHERN IRAQ

U.S. commanders say they didn't know Turkey was preparing to attack northern Iraq. Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. But defense and diplomatic officials in Washington and Baghdad told The Associated Press that U.S. commanders in Iraq knew nothing about Sunday's attack until it was already under way. Defense and diplomatic officials said they were angered about being left in the dark about Turkey's actions. Their comments follow complaints by Iraqi leaders Monday that Turkey hadn't coordinated with Baghdad before sending bombers to strike PKK targets. [AP, 12/18/07]

POLL: IRAQI GROUPS BLAME U.S. INVASION FOR THEIR PROBLEMS

Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them. Iraqis also see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month. "The current strife in Iraq seems to have totally eclipsed any agonies or grievances many Iraqis would have incurred from the past regime, which lasted for nearly four decades -- as opposed to the current conflict, which has lasted for five years." Despite almost no mentions of Saddam Hussein as a cause of their problems, when asked to explain Iraq to a foreigner, "most would describe the negative elements of life in Iraq beginning with the 'U.S. occupation' in March 2003." A senior research manager said "In Iraq, I just don't hear statements that come from any of the Sunni, Shi'a or Kurdish groups that say 'We recognize that we need to share power with the others, that we can't truly dominate.'" [Washington Post, 12/19/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE

Bombings kill at least 23 wound dozens more. 11 people were killed and 18 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a popular cafe in Abbara village, about 45 miles north of Baghdad near the town of Baqouba. In central Baqouba, a suicide car bomb exploded at a police checkpoint, killing two and wounding 15 others, police said. In northern Iraq, insurgents attacked guards protecting an oil pipeline about 50 miles south of Mosul, killing six of the guards, police said. In Baghdad, a parked car-bomb targeting a police patrol killed four people and wounded seven, police said. [AP, 12/18/07]