Saturday, April 08, 2006

U.S. Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord

The NY Times reports that, despite a major effort to play up "good news" from Iraq -- of the missing variety -- recently, the situation remains pretty bleak, even by the US Embassy's own admission:

An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical. The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.

In 10 pages of briefing slides, the report, titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.

There are also alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power, and rival militias in the south. The authors also point to the Arab-Kurdish fault line in the north as a major concern, with the two ethnicities vying for power in Mosul, where violence is rampant, and Kirkuk, whose oil fields are critical for jump-starting economic growth in Iraq.
These details come across relatively clearly in the better coverage coming out of Iraq, but it's always welcome to have some documentation from the US government itself.

Hold this over for the next time you see Hugh Hewitt on CNN, Rumsfeld barking at the press, lamentations about "the schools!," etc.