Sunday, January 31, 2010

Was Iraq An Imminent Threat To The West?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair testified to the Chilcot Inquiry that is investigating England’s involvement in the Iraq war on January 29, 2010 that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world security. Blair told the inquiry, “I think that he [Saddam] was a monster, I believe he threatened not just the region but the world. In the circumstances we faced then, but even if we look back now, it was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office. I do genuinely believe the world is safer as a result.” Blair went on to say, “But I genuinely believe that if we had left Saddam in power, even with what we know now, we would still have had to have dealt with him, possibly in circumstances where the threat was worse and possibly in circumstances where it was hard to mobilize any support for dealing with that threat.” Iraq as a threat to the world was a common theme amongst war supporters. Back in January 1998 the Project for the New American Century, a leading conservative and neoconservative group, sent a letter to President Bill Clinton calling for regime change in Iraq, saying that Iraq posed a challenge to the Middle East as great as the Cold War. They wrote, “It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction … the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.” These views of Iraq were all shaped by Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, which turned Iraq from a bulwark against an Islamic Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, to a threat to the Middle East and its oil. The problem with this view was that it completely missed Saddam’s foreign policy goals. His focus wasn’t on the West, the Gulf states, or even Israel, but rather Iran.

Iraq’s focus upon Tehran was revealed in two post-war reports on the former regime’s leadership. After the 2003 invasion, the U.S. interviewed hundreds of Iraqi officials, including Saddam himself, and went through thousands of documents to try to decipher Iraq’s intentions, especially about its WMD and nuclear programs. These findings were published in the final report of the Iraq Survey Group tasked with discovering Iraq’s weapons programs, and the Iraqi Perspectives Project’s paper “A View of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam’s Senior Leadership,” released by the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Both showed that Saddam considered Tehran as an existential threat to Iraq. Iran and Iraq were historical rivals going back centuries, and Saddam believed that not only was Tehran stoking internal unrest because of its ideology of Shiite Islamist rule, but wanted to annex southern Iraq. In talks with Iraq’s top leadership, Saddam believed that the next war would be with Iran, not the U.S. or even Israel. The latter was seen as a rival in the region and a threat to Arab countries, but Saddam believed that if there was ever a conflict between the two, Israel would only launch air or missile strikes. Iran on the other hand could invade Iraqi territory and was supporting the country’s Shiites, so it was considered a more pressing opponent.

Even as the U.S. was building a coalition to go to war with Iraq, Saddam still thought of Iran as his greatest enemy. In 2002 for example, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) that was created, supported, and based in Iran was the largest internal threat to the government because it was stirring up Shiites in the south. As late as January 2003, at a Ministry of Defense conference Iran’s WMD program was singled out as a looming threat to Iraq and the region.

In comparison, Saddam did not think of the U.S. as a real enemy. Saddam believed that after the Gulf War the United States had achieved its goals in the region by establishing military bases there. He actually thought that Baghdad and Washington could reconcile sometime in the future, and sent dozens of messages to the U.S. through the United Nations weapons inspectors that were always ignored. Even if there was a conflict with America, he believed that it would only lead to missile or air strikes, and he never considered a U.S. invasion likely even when the Bush administration was clearly heading in that direction. As the war drew closer he thought that international pressure would stop Washington short of Baghdad.

In Blair’s testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry he said that 9/11 changed Washington and London’s perspective of Iraq. Afterward, both felt that Saddam could not stay in power with WMD because it would threaten the Middle East and the West. This view was based upon the Gulf War, and completely missed Iraq’s focus upon Iran. As national security professor at the U.S. Naval War College Michael Mazarr noted in an article for the journal Foreign Policy Analysis, when the September 11 attacks happened, the Bush administration turned to what they knew, Iraq, rather than what they didn’t, Al Qaeda. The same could be said for the Blair government. That meant after the Afghanistan invasion, the U.S. and England became focused upon Saddam, and diverted all of its attention and resources to getting rid of his regime. The Baathist government was undoubtedly a threat to its own people. It had brutally suppressed the Kurds, Shiites, and anyone else that threatened its power. Saddam had launched two misguided wars against Iran and Kuwait thinking that they would be easy victories, and was intent on restarting his nuclear and WMD programs when and if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Even then, Saddam’s main priority was to assure that the Baathists stayed in power, and that Iraq could deter Iran. In fact, Saddam’s emphasis upon WMD was based upon his belief that they could be used to put down internal uprisings and were an essential defense against Tehran’s larger military and population. He also never fully cooperated with U.N. inspectors because he feared that if Iraq were exposed as having no WMD, it would weaken the country vis a vis Iran. Blair said that even after what he knows now he would still invade Iraq, but that just points to officials continued emphasis upon their previous views of Saddam, rather than anything that has been learned since Saddam’s overthrow from copious research into the former regime’s thinking and priorities. Perceptions are reality however, and they are hard to shake, so the image of Saddam as an imminent threat to the Middle East and the West will likely persist with many into the future.

SOURCES

Iraq Survey Group, “Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD,” 9/30/04

Mazarr, Michael, “The Iraq War and Agenda Setting,” Foreign Policy Analysis, January 2007

Norton-Taylor, Richard and Watt, Nicholas, “The Blair defence: September 11 changed the ‘calculs of risk,’” Guardian, 1/29/10

Project for the New American Century, “The Honorable William J. Clinton,” 1/26/98

Woods, Keven with Pease, Michael, Stout, Mark, Murray, Williamson, and Lacey, James, “A View of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Saddam’s Senior Leadership,” Iraqi Perspectives Project, 3/24/06

Friday, January 29, 2010

Talk Of Renewed Kurdish Oil Exports

From June to October 2009, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was allowed to export oil from its Tawke and Taq Taq fields. The KRG began exporting between 40,000-60,000 barrels of petroleum a day in what was hailed as a breakthrough between the Kurds and the central government that had argued over the legitimacy of the region’s oil contracts. The problem was that while the profits from the sales were deposited in accounts in Baghdad, the government did not agree to pay the companies. By October, the businesses announced that they would stop their work since they were not receiving any compensation. Baghdad emerged with all of the profits and no costs, while the KRG came out with nothing.

Afterward the KRG went back to its usual war of words with the central government over the petroleum industry. In November 2009 for example, KRG President Massoud Barzani claimed that because the Oil Ministry had failed to develop the energy resources of Iraq, the KRG didn’t have to follow its rules, and that the Kurds would keep any money they earned from their oil. In December, the KRG Natural Resource Minister criticized the second bidding round on oil fields before they began that month, and demanded that the Kurds be included in any negotiations over energy deposits in disputed territories.

In January 2010 the rhetoric suddenly became conciliatory. That began when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement on January 3 that the two sides should talk about oil contracts. He said that he had discussed the deals with KRG Prime Minister Barham Saleh. On January 18 the KRG said that it would be willing to meet with Baghdad to resolve their outstanding issues over the energy sector. As a concession the Kurds said that they would publish the deals they made with foreign companies that exported oil in 2009, which Baghdad has always complained were not transparent and lacked details on. In return, the KRG Natural Resource Minister wanted to resume exports. As before, the sticking point was how to pay the companies exporting in Kurdistan. The Resource Minister said that Baghdad should pay the companies to cover their costs, and promised a large increase in export revenue, which the central government could share in as their return. Those profits would be deposited in Baghdad again as during 2009.

There is no guarantee that this issue will go beyond talk. The new oil deals that Baghdad signed in December 2009 offer much larger exports and profits for the Oil Ministry, which lessons the need for Kurdish exports that the government has protested. The statements by the two sides could also be part of election year politicking as the Kurds will be an important bloc in parliament to form any new government. Any substantial moves over Kurdish exports then, will likely not occur until late in the year after the March elections and a new ruling coalition is put together.

SOURCES

AK News, “Iraq’s oil and gas assets are shared: Barzani,” 11/11/09

Hafidh, Hassan, “DNO Shares Rise As Iraq Kurds Aim To End Oil Row With Baghdad,” Dow Jones, 1/18/10

Al-Hindawi, Fawzi, “Iraqi Kurds accept most government conditions for exporting their oil,” Azzaman, 1/19/10

Ryan, Missy, “Iraq’s Maliki calls for end to Kurd oil deal row,” Reuters, 1/3/10

Ward, Andrew and MacNamara, William, “Kurdish minister pushes for Iraqi oil deal,” Financial Times, 1/18/10

Yackley, Ayla Jean, “UPDATE 2-Kurds say Iraqi oilfield auction is being rushed,” Reuters, 12/10/09

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Iranian Ambassador To Iraq Confirmed As Revolutionary Guards Member

As reported before, on January 14, 2009 Al-Zaman newspaper reported that the new Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danafar, was from the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force. Danafar is currently the chairman of Iran’s Headquarters for Renovation of Iraq’s Holy Shrines, but other reports say that he was deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s navy. On January 26, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that Danafar is indeed a member of the Revolutionary Guards. Tehran’s justification is that Iraq is in a state of war.

This appointment comes at a time of tension between Iraq and Iran. In December 2009, Iranian forces occupied Well Number 4 at the Faqui oil field in Maysan province, and did not leave the area until January 27, claiming that it was in their territory. This month’s banning of candidates from the March 2010 election also has many pointing fingers at Iran as the two leaders of the Accountability and Justice Commission are known to have strong ties with Tehran. The most notable was the U.S. commander of the Central Command General David Petraeus, who told the Times of London on January 25 that the Qods Force may be behind the Commission’s actions.

Iran is intent on maintaining and expanding its influence in post-Saddam Iraq. It is already one of Iraq’s largest trade partners, is the largest source of tourism, and provides support to both political and militant Shiite groups. Right now it is focusing upon the 2010 elections to try to ensure continued Shiite rule, because that would provide the best relations between the two countries. Danafar’s appointment is just another sign that Tehran will use both overt and covert means to achieve these goals.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iranian troops leave Iraqi oil field: governor,” 1/27/10

AK News, “Controversy over Iran’s new ambassador to Iraq,” 1/23/10

Bruno, Greg, “Avoiding Crisis in Iraq’s Political Minefield,” Council on Foreign Relations, 1/25/10

Haynes, Deborah, “General David Petraeus: full transcript of interview with The Times,” 1/25/10

ILNA, Al-Jarida, “Iranian ForMin: Our Ambassador To Baghdad Is IRGC Official,” MEMRI Blog, 1/26/10

2010 Iraq Budget Passed

After a few delays Iraq’s parliament passed its 2010 budget on January 26, 2010. It’s for $72.4 billion, a substantial increase over the previous $58.6 billion one. It is also the largest amount authorized since Iraq got its sovereignty back in 2005. As usual, around 70% of the spending will be on operational costs, which go towards salaries, pensions, the food ration system, etc., while 30% will be for investing in infrastructure, development projects, and the like in the capital budget. It also puts a freeze on appointing new bureaucrats until the next parliament is seated, probably to prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other ministers who represent various political parties, from using jobs as patronage to gain votes in the coming March 2010 elections. In an interesting turn, the budget also cuts top officials’ salaries by 20% and medium ranked officials’ pay by 10%, and that money will go towards the provinces’ capital spending. High ranking politicians, such as Iraq’s president for example gets a monthly salary of $8,000 and a $45,000 allowance for spending. The last major change is that southern and northern provinces such as Tamim and Basra that produce oil and natural gas will be paid $1 per barrel or 150 cubic meters of gas produced. Local officials say that this money will go towards job creation and development projects. There is no word yet whether the amounts that the governorates will get is an increase over the first draft of the budget, which many provinces complained about would not be enough for their needs earlier in the year. 

The new budget calls for 2.15 million barrels a day in oil exports, at $62.50 a barrel, as petroleum accounts for the vast majority of the government’s revenue. While Iraqi crude sold for $73.39 a barrel in December 2009, it only exported an average of 1.59 million barrels a day in 2009, and has never exported more than 2.08 million barrels a day for a month.

As a result, the 2010 budget has an expected $19.6 billion deficit. That will be in addition to the current $16 billion deficit. Parliament said that they would cover the difference by asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank for up to $6.5 billion in loans, domestic barrowing, and using past surpluses. There are major problems with that however. First, when the legislature was drafting the 2009 budget they said the exact same thing, and the funds never materialized. The Central Bank refused to allow the surplus to be used or treasury bonds to be sold to cover the budget. International institutions have also been unwilling to give Iraq large loans. In 2009 the country was only able to get a $5.5 billion loan from the IMF, which was to go to the 2010 budget. In previous years, Iraq was only allowed to borrow $2 billion from the IMF in two separate loans.

This reveals the unwillingness of Iraqi politicians to face up to their country’s financial difficulties. The 2010 parliamentary elections are just two months away so the legislature wants a large budget to increase spending to their constituents whether the government can afford it or not. Lawmakers also act like the deficit will be taken care of, even though Iraq has not been able to borrow large sums of money in the past. Last, after the 2003 invasion, the U.S. made a concerted effort to reduce Iraq’s large Saddam era debt so that it would have more money for reconstruction. Now Iraq seems intent on building its debt right back up.

Iraq’s Budgets 2005-2010
2005 $24.4 bil 
2006 $34 bil
2007 $41 bil
2008 $71.2 bil (includes supplemental budget)
2009 $58.6 bil
2010 $72.4 bil

SOURCES

Abbas, Mohammed and Ibrahim, Waleed, “Iraq fears budget crisis, urges oil export boost,” Reuters, 12/3/08

AK News, “Iraq’s 2010 budget passed by unanimous vote,” 1/26/10

Alsumaria News, “Kirkuk welcomes the allocation of every barrel of oil provinces,” 1/26/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraq’s oil revenues up by $300m in Dec. 2009,” 1/23/10

Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” December 2008
- “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” June 2009

Ibrahim, Waleed, “Iraqi parliament approves $72.4 bln 2010 budget,” Reuters, 1/26/10

Reuters, “Iraq PM Says Cannot Cut Public Pay To Suit IMF,” 10/7/09
- “Iraq sets expected 2010 oil exports at 2.15 mln bpd,” 1/27/10

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/09

UR News, “Iraqi President, Two Deputies Earn $2 Million Annually,” MEMRI Blog, 11/12/09

Visser, Reidar, “Decentralisation Bonanza in the Iraqi Budget,” Historiae.org, 1/27/10

Zawya, “Iraq Central Bank Opposes Issuing Treasury Bills To Finance Projects,” 9/27/09

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Iraqi Study Finds High Levels Of Contamination Throughout Country

A January 2010 study by the Iraqi Ministries of the Environment, Health, and Science found that there were 42 sites in the country that are contaminated with high levels of radiation and dioxins. These places are found in Ninewa, Sulaymaniya, Anbar, Baghdad, Najaf, Maysan, Dhi Qar, Muthanna, and Basra.

10 of the sites are irradiated according to Iraq’s nuclear decommission agency. Three of them are around the former Tuwaitha nuclear facility just outside of Baghdad. Others are former research centers around the capital. All of these places were either bombed during the Gulf War or the 2003 U.S. invasion, or dismantled by United Nations’ inspectors. The head of the decommission agency said that even with the best help those sites wouldn’t be cleaned before 2020. Other areas, such as scrap yards are also contaminated by radiation, thought to come from the use of depleted uranium munitions by the United States in the two wars. There are also fears that the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province are similarly affected.

Southern Iraq is facing poisoning from dioxins. In Basra for example, the soil is being contaminated from the oil pipelines. The Environment Minister warned that this is leading to the deterioration of farmland in the governorate. 

So far the government has focused upon areas that have been affected by the two wars, but there are plans to check the entire country. Some of these areas are also facing high rates of cancer and birth defects, but there is no direct correlation yet between that and the contamination. This is another troubling report for Iraq that already suffers from poor health conditions.

SOURCES

Chulov, Martin, “Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds,” Guardian, 1/22/10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is The U.S. Negotiating With Baathists?

In early January 2011 the Paris based Intelligence Online site said that the CIA was meeting with Baathists in Yemen and Syria to try to work out a cease-fire with them to re-integrate them into the new Iraq. After the overthrow of Saddam many Baathists fled to Syria where they set up offices, and helped fund the insurgency. The President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh also recruited many former Iraqi army and intelligence officers that had lost their job when the U.S. invaded 2003 into his own forces. Intelligence Online claimed that these talks began in the summer of 2009 with the help of Jordanian intelligence. The strategy is to try to reach out to these former regime elements, and get them involved with Iraqi politics before the U.S. withdraws. For their part, the Baathists and army officers want jobs in the government and military, and an end to the constitutional ban on the Baath party. This was just the latest evidence that the U.S. has been negotiating with insurgents and former regime elements to try to bring about reconciliation in Iraq, but ironically, none of these efforts have included the Iraqi government.

In 2009 there were scattered stories about the U.S. talking with militants. In February 2009, a Saudi newspaper said that an American delegation met with former army officers in Jordan, hoping to convince them to return to Iraq. In April, Newsweek reported that the U.S. had tried to talk with Baathists, and was pushing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to offer them a fig leaf. On August 29, The National paper from Abu Dhabi ran a story that said that the U.S. had met with insurgents in Turkey at the beginning of 2009, and that a U.S. military delegation to Syria in August had also talked with Baathists there. Finally, on January 5, 2010 Azzaman claimed that Baathists and insurgents inside Iraq were having discussions with the U.S.

These American overtures have led to a mix response by Baghdad. In April 2009, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that he would welcome back Baathists if they accepted the new political order in the country. However, later in the year he rejected any U.S. brokered talks with them. In August 2009 after the bombing of government buildings in Baghdad, Maliki began a concerted campaign to blame Syrian Baathists to defer blame away from himself for the security failure. In December, the Prime Minister noted that if Washington were to meet with Baathists in the future, that would be a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries. With Maliki focusing the public on the threat of Baathist terrorist acts and the recent banning of candidates in the March 2010 elections due to their alleged Baathist sympathies, the negative reaction by Maliki to the U.S. talking with former regime members could be expected.

In the middle of all the Baathist baiting going on in Iraq, it was ironic to read on January 21 a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that members of the Iraqi government were carrying out their own secret negotiations with Baathists. A spokesman for the cabinet’s reconciliation committee was quoted as saying that the Ministry of National Dialogue held talks with insurgents in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria recently. He went on to say that the reconciliation committee’s chairman had met with Baathists in Syria who were willing to renounce violence and try politics.

Reconciliation in Iraq has gone in spurts and spats, and the U.S. has led much of this effort with mixed results. The Anbar Awakening that was made up of former tribes and militants who had cooperated with Al Qaeda in Iraq was largely accepted by Baghdad because of their indigenous origins, and residence in a Sunni dominated province. The Sons of Iraq, which was a successful attempt by the Americans to divide and conquer the insurgency on the other hand, has met plenty of opposition by Iraqi officials since it was a U.S. creation. Their integration into the government has been dragged along as a result. U.S. attempts at working out deals with Baathists and insurgents would probably create a similar reaction as the Iraqi government is not involved in the policy at all. The willingness of Iraqi officials to accept militants back into Iraq is also divided. The boogey man of a Baathist return is still quite useful amongst Shiite political parties for example, as is currently playing out in the 2010 elections. Reconciliation would deprive them of this tool. When Iraqi politicians will be mature and secure enough in their positions to accept the return of Baathists exiles that are really no threat to the new Iraq is unknown, but probably won’t happen anytime soon. That means the U.S. has plenty of time to talk with them, or their work may be futile.

SOURCES

Azzaman, “US talking to former Baathists in Iraq,” 1/5/10

Dawlat Al-Qanon Network, “Al-Maliki Answers Reporters’ Questions Online,” MEMRI Blog, 12/8/09

Kaplow, Larry, “The Return of the Baathists,” Newsweek, 4/6/09

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraqi Officials Confirm Talks Held Abroad With Ba’athists, Insurgents,” 1/21/10

Roads To Iraq Blog, “American delegation met with former Iraqi army officers,” 2/20/09

Sands, Phil, “A safe haven in Damascus,” The National, 8/29/09

UPI, “CIA ‘seeks truce with Iraqi Baathists,’” 1/11/10

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Sons of Iraq Integrated While Others Walk Off The Job In Diyala

In January 2010 there were two reports of a dramatic increase in the number of Sons of Iraq (SOI) that were given jobs by the government, followed by a story that all of the SOI in Diyala walked off the job to protest a crackdown by authorities.

First, on January 11 Alsumaria TV interviewed an American general who said that 10,000 SOI had gotten jobs in the Iraqi security forces, and 30,000 found employment in other ministries. That left 78,000 SOI still manning posts throughout the country that are getting monthly checks from Baghdad, and waiting to be integrated. On January 19, Reuters talked with the head of the Implementation and Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation who claimed that 15,000 SOI were now employed by the security forces, and 33,000 in other government positions. He went on to say that all of the SOI would be integrated by mid-2010, and that money had been set-aside in the proposed 2010 budget to continue paying them until that happened. If those two reports are true, that would be a dramatic increase from the last numbers of SOI integration released by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) in October 2009. The last SIGIR study reported only 9,500 SOI in the security forces, 6,800 in other ministries, and 8,800 who had found employment elsewhere. The SIGIR said that 16,300 SOI had been integrated out of 89,000 or 18.3%. The Alsumaria story increased that to 40,000 or 44.9% of the total, while the Implementation and Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation claimed 48,000 or 53.9%. The U.S. now says that the remaining SOI will be given jobs by mid-2010.

In the middle of this good news Aswat al-Iraq ran a story on January 23 that all of the SOI in Diyala have been ordered to abandon their posts by their leaders due to a government crackdown. An SOI sheikh said that there were 13,000 SOI in the province, and claimed that 425 fighters and 25 senior leaders had recently been arrested. He told Aswat al-Iraq that that the arrests were based upon false reports by Al Qaeda members attempting to undermine the SOI.

The Diyala SOI has had one of the most contentious relationships with Baghdad. The Sons of Iraq there were first formed in 2007 when members of the 1920s Revolution Brigades, other insurgent groups, and the Karki and Shimouri tribes turned on their former allies Al Qaeda in Iraq. They were eventually co-opted by the Iraqi Islamic Party in a successful attempt to expand their grassroots support within the province. This caught the attention of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who quickly tried to divide the SOI by offering them jobs through the Diyala Support Council in mid-2007. This raised the attention of the U.S. who complained to Maliki that his actions were destabilizing the situation. In January 2008 the Prime Minister continued with his divide and conquer strategy by forming the Diyala Tribal Support Council to break away more SOI fighters from their leaders and the Islamic Party. Operation Omens of Prosperity followed in July that arrested both insurgents and SOI and Islamic Party members. Again, the U.S. attempted to intervene by getting some of the SOI leaders released from detention and out of trouble with the authorities. In September Baghdad offered another carrot when it promised to hire more SOI into the security forces in Diyala than the percentage offered to SOI in the rest of the country, while still using the stick of further arrests.

All of these stories represent the conflicted stance the Iraqi government has towards the Sons of Iraq. Baghdad and its ruling Shiite parties have always considered the SOI an American creation, full of former insurgents who are not to be trusted. Despite this they did agree to integrate 20% into the security forces, and give the other 80% jobs in the rest of the government. This was to be accomplished by the end of 2009 however, a deadline that has now been extended to mid-2010 until after the parliamentary elections. Due to Baghdad’s reluctance only around 40-50% of the SOI have been given employment so far. At the same time, they continue to arrest SOI members around the country. This is part of a carrot and stick approach that Maliki has taken since 2007, offering them the chance for a steady job, while at the same time reminding them that the government is in complete control of their fate, and that they can be detained at any time.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, “40,000 Sahwa members into Iraqi institutions,” 1/11/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Diala sahwa fighters quit checkpoints,” 1/23/10

Loney, Jim, “Iraq says 50,000 former insurgents in govt jobs,” 1/19/10

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/09

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sadr Vs Hakim, Split In The Iraqi National Alliance

On January 18, 2010 the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) Ammar al-Hakim traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to meet with some of that country’s leaders. During an interview with Lebanon’s New TV Channel Hakim was asked why he didn’t fight the U.S. occupation. He replied, that unlike Lebanon or Israel there was no clear resistance, and those who fought in Iraq killed innocent civilians. The Sadrist representative in Lebanon took issue with this and asked Moqtada al-Sadr for a response. He said that Hakim’s comments were “illogical and unacceptable,” saying that Hakim didn’t recognize the resistance because he wanted the U.S. to stay in Iraq. The SIIC and Sadrists are long time rivals that often fought each other throughout southern Iraq after the U.S. invasion. Despite that, and the fact that they disagree upon almost everything from a southern Shiite federal region to the demands of the Kurds to the role of the central government, the two parties joined together to form the Iraqi National Alliance in August 2009, with ample help from Iran. The internal tensions are still there however, as expressed in this latest spate between Hakim and Sadr. It’s still an open question whether this alliance of convenience will last past the March 2010 vote.

SOURCES

Aswat al-Iraq, “Sadr says Hakim wants “occupation” forces to stay,” 1/22/10
- “SIIC chief arrives n Beirut,” 1/18/10

International Crisis Group, “Iraq’s Civil War, The Sadrists And The Surge,” 2/7/08

Roads To Iraq, “Sadr vs Hakim again,” 1/22/10

Sullivan, Marisa Cochrane, “Iraq’s Parliamentary Election,” Institute for the Study of War, 10/21/09

Joint Iraqi-Peshmerga-U.S. Patrols Begin In Disputed Territories

On January 13, 2010 checkpoints manned by the Iraqi army, Kurdish peshmerga, and U.S. soldiers were set up in Diyala. Similar checkpoints will be created in Ninewa and Tamim later in the month. They are being created in what the U.S. calls the Combined Security Area where Iraqi and peshmerga forces meet, but do not cooperate. These joint operations are meant to help ease tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan, as well as improve security.

In August 2009 commander of U.S. forces in Iraq General Ray Odierno proposed joint patrols in disputed territories. To Odierno, the patrols would address two important issues. First, the arguments between the Kurds and Arabs in northern Iraq created security gaps that were exploited by insurgents to carry out attacks. Joint patrols were meant to counter this. Second, the Americans have pointed to the Arab-Kurd dispute as the main source of instability in Iraq’s future, and it was hoped that cooperation on the ground would alleviate this problem. While the Kurds immediately embraced the concept, many Arabs and Turkmen rejected it just as fast.

Shortly after Odierno proposed his plan, Arabs and Turkmen began voicing their opposition. On August 23, 2009 for example, the Ninewa provincial council, which is controlled by the Arab led al-Hadbaa party, said they rejected the idea. On September 1, Arabs and Turkmen in the Kirkuk city council also complained. That same month Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi questioned the idea during a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden while he was visiting Iraq, and a few days later 100 Arabs protested against the patrols in Mosul.

Today, Arabs and Turkmen are just as opposed. A Turkmen member of the Tamim provincial council, members of the Arab Group in that province, as well as the al-Hadbaa List in Ninewa all said they were still against the joint patrols in January 2010. Their negative opinion is based upon two issues. First, they want the Iraqi army and police to secure their provinces rather than a mix of U.S., Iraqi, and peshmerga forces. Second, they believe that joint patrols will give legitimacy to the peshmerga being in disputed areas, which many Arabs and Turkmen of the region see as being illegal and a step towards annexation into Kurdistan.

The peshmerga presence and disputed territories in northern Iraq were created as a result of the overthrow of Saddam. In 2003 the peshmerga swept south out of Kurdistan as part of the U.S. invasion. They set up de facto control of areas in Ninewa, Diyala, and Tamim provinces that they claimed were historically Kurdish, and that they wished to annex. When the insurgency began to take off, the U.S. military also asked the Kurds to help with security. The Kurdish forces have been in these areas ever since, and administered them as parts of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with little to no coordination with Baghdad or Iraqi forces. In 2008, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attempted to assert control of these areas by moving Iraqi forces into Ninewa and Diyala that caused a crisis with the Kurds. This brought the Arab-Kurd dispute to the attention of the U.S. military and policy makers, and led to the joint patrols plan.

Joint patrols will definitely help with security, but the political affects are much more questionable. Northern Iraq is the most violent part of the country, and insurgents have carried out massive bombings and other attacks there to try to play on the differences between Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other minorities that live there. There are swaths of territory in the region that have little military presence because of the disputes between Arabs and Kurds. Joint patrols and checkpoints will hopefully fill these gaps. Since so many local Arabs and Turkmen are opposed to the idea however, the political repercussions may be negligible. They are all afraid that the joint patrols will legitimize Kurdish control of the areas, and in turn allow for their annexation. While they would like better security, they believe the Iraqi security forces should be responsible instead. Joint patrols are likely to be a stopgap measure then, which will help with fighting insurgents, but maintain the political status quo.

SOURCES

AK News, “Arab and Turcomans seek to dissolve joint forces in parliament,” 1/20/10
- “Iraqi MP: Deploying Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk aims to keep it safe,” 1/18/10
- “Joint forces will be deployed in Mosul in coming days,” 1/14/10
- “Kurds accept, Arabs and Turkmen refuse deployment of common forces in Disputed cities,” 1/14/10
- “Kurds welcome Americans Kirkuk proposal,” 8/20/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Hashemi voices reservations about joint forces presence in Kirkuk, Ninewa,” 9/16/09
- “Peaceful demonstration in Ninewa against joint forces presence,” 9/28/09

Fontaine, Scott, “Milestone: Arab-Kurdish-American checkpoints,” Tribune News, 1/22/10

Knights, Michael, “National Implications of the Kurdish Elections,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 2009

Visser, Reidar, “Maliki’s Northern Headache, and How General Odierno Is Compounding It,” Iraq And Gulf Analysis, 9/9/09

Zuber, Zach, “Three Forces Come Together for Checkpoints,” DVIDS, 1/22/10

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Politics Behind Iraq's Second Parliamentary Election

I just wrote this article on Iraq's upcoming elections for the Jamestown Foundation.

Iraqis will head to the polls on March 7 in the second parliamentary election since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraqi politics are in a state of flux that is reflected in the run-up to the vote. The election law was held up over longstanding issues like Kirkuk. At the same time, the ethno-sectarian parties that dominated the 2005 polls are being challenged by a new wave of nationalist parties. This has created challenges to forming a state ruled by law, given tensions between the new parties and the old lists that are attempting to hold onto power. Read the rest here.

Iraq’s Oil Output Down In 2009 Compared To 2008

In 2009 Iraq finished with averages of 2.02 million barrels a day in production, and 1.59 million barrels a day in exports. For December it produced 2.40 million barrels a day, while exporting 1.91 million barrels a day. Overall, both production and exports averages for 2009 were down from the previous year when Iraq pumped 2.41 million barrels a day and exported 1.84 million barrels. In fact, 2009 broke a four-year trend of yearly increases in production and exports that began in 2005.

This was a disappointing finish for a number of reasons. First, the Oil Ministry set a goal of 2.50 million barrels a day in production, which was only achieved in September and October 2009. Second, the Iraqi budget called for 2.00 million barrels a day in exports, which only happened one month, July. This is especially important because the government relies upon petroleum for almost all of its revenue, and is currently running a $16 billion deficit. Third, one of the major reasons for the inconsistent oil exports were three attacks upon the northern pipeline that goes to Turkey. The line was damaged in September, October, and December, each time leading to it being shut down for a number of weeks. This happened despite greatly enhanced security measures that have led to a dramatic reduction in the number of incidents involving the country’s oil industry. Even with the overall decline in attacks however, the oil industry has not significantly improved its production. Finally it shows the continued problems Iraq faces with poor infrastructure, lack of capacity amongst its bureaucracy, and corruption that has plagued the country for years. Iraq is hoping that the new round of oil deals it signed in 2009 will finally bring in the foreign investment and know how it needs to alleviate these issues, but there are still big questions about whether this is achievable. Until then Iraq’s economy will rely almost completely upon oil, while suffering inconsistent production and exports.

Iraq Yearly Oil Production/Export Averages (Millions of Barrels Per Day)
2003 1.44 mbd/0.795 mbd
2004 2.25 mbd/1.47 mbd
2005 2.07 mbd/1.36 mbd
2006 2.11 mbd/1.50 mbd
2007 2.11 mbd/1.66 mbd
2008 2.41 mbd/1.84 mbd
2009 2.02 mbd/1.59 mbd

SOURCES

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “Iraq Status Report,” U.S. Department of State, 1/13/10

Hafidh, Hassan, “Iraq Dec Oil Exports Up 4% On Month At 1.977 Million B/D,” Dow Jones, 1/4/10

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/09

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Return Of Sectarian Politics To Iraq

Campaigning for the March 2010 parliamentary elections is underway in Iraq and the leading issue is not the economy, services, or improving security, but Baathists. This marks the return of sectarian politics that had been in the decline until now.

The January 2009 provincial elections represented a large step forward for Iraqi politics. Nationalist and secular parties did much better than those that tried to run on identity and sect. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) for example, lost control of Baghdad and southern Iraq as a result of stressing religion. Afterward, the biggest winner, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law List also attempted to form cross-sectarian ruling coalitions in many provinces. Sunnis also turned out in high numbers after boycotting the 2005 elections. This was seen as an important turn for Iraq as many of the exile groups that came to power on the coattails of the Americans were beginning to show signs of being superseded by new indigenous ones that stressed issues over ethnosectarianism.

It was hoped that the 2010 elections would be more of the same, but instead Baathists have become the major issue. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was trying to run on improved security, a strong central government, and Iraqi nationalism, actually played a large role in changing the discourse running up to the vote. After the massive bombings of government offices that began in August 2009, the Prime Minister turned to blaming Baathists in Syria for the attacks. The government than released a series of taped confessions of alleged bombers who pointed the finger at former regime elements living across the border in Damascus. He followed that up by giving speeches in which he warned about the growing Baathist threat to the government, such as an address in Karbala in September 2009. Maliki and the Foreign Minister even demanded that the United Nations look into Syrian Baathists, and their role in terrorist attacks within the country. By November, the Prime Minister talked about Baathists using the elections to return to power, which he promised would never happen under his watch. After the December Baghdad bombings, Maliki claimed there was a Baathist plot hatched in Syria to try to overthrow the government. The Iraqi press stirred the pot by making reports about Baathists secretly organizing to take part in the 2010 balloting, and interviewing leading Sunnis such as parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq and Sheikh Ahmad Abu Risha of Anbar who said that Baathists could get 1-6 million votes. Since improved security was one of Maliki’s main campaign messages, he needed to defer attention away from himself for the lapses that allowed for the bombings. He chose to blame a far away and ethereal threat, Baathists in Syria, which still plays with many Shiites in the country. It also made the attacks a foreign problem, rather than an internal one.

By January 2010 the Baathist campaign had spread from the national to the local level with provincial officials making similar statements to Maliki. On January 13 the deputy provincial council head in Karbala said that Baathists were trying to destabilize the country, and that security officials in the province were on alert against attacks by former regime members. That same day a lawmaker said that Baathists in neighboring countries and hidden ones within parliament itself were plotting to disrupt the 2010 elections. On January 14, the head of the legal committee in Qadisiyah, and a member of the National Alliance, the State of Law’s main rival, said that his coalition was committed to preventing the return of Baathists to power. Later that day a bomb went off in Najaf, leading the provincial council, which is controlled by the State of Law, to blame Baathists. On January 16, there was a demonstration in Diwaniyah, Qadisiyah calling for all Baathists to be expelled from the government, which brought the governor and provincial council members who are from the State of Law to pledge that they were working against Saddam’s followers. Two days later the Najaf provincial council issued a warning that Baathists had 24 hours to leave the governorate.

Of course, the most famous act of sectarian politics this year occurred in early January when the Accountability and Justice Commission announced that they were banning 511 candidates and parties from running in 2010 due to their alleged ties to Baathists. Ahmad Chalabi and Ali al-Lami of the Iraqi National Congress head the commission, and both are running as part of the National Alliance this year. While more Shiites were banned than Sunnis, the real target of their action were the new nationalist and secular parties that pose the greatest threat to the power of sectarian parties that make up the leadership of the National Alliance.

All of these actions together have made the 2010 elections not about any real issues that will improve the lives of Iraqis, but rather a chimera, the return of Baathists. Even before the first Baghdad bombing in August 2009 the various Shiite parties were banding around charges about Baathists, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made it a pressing national issue when he blamed all of the massive bombings in the capital on Syrian Baathists, aired confessions on TV, withdrew the Iraqi ambassador from Syria, and demanded that the United Nations investigate. State of Law members at the local level throughout southern Iraq than took up the campaign. Not to be undone, Maliki’s main rival, the National Alliance focused the entire 2010 campaign upon whether alleged Baathists should be able to participate by banning 511 candidates and several political parties in January. Maliki was motivated by the fact that the bombings in Baghdad undermined his claim to have restored security to the country, one of his main selling points. The National Alliance was driven by the fact that they couldn’t sell their coalition on anything else, since the various members don’t agree on policy, and only have their Shiite identity, support from Iran, and opposition to Maliki to unite them; not points that would gain them many votes outside of their current followers. 2010 has thus become a repeat of the 2005 elections when sectarianism was the major issue. The victims will be the Iraqi people, who are likely to come out in lower numbers than the 2009 vote if this continues, since all of this rhetoric about Baathists doesn’t address any of the issues they feel are most pressing such as jobs or financial security, or even improving security to prevent more large bombings from happening again. This is just the latest example of the soap opera that is Iraqi politics. 

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraqi province gives Saddam loyalists 24 hours to leave,” 1/18/10

AK News, “Karbala Council: Baathists destabilize the situations in Iraq,” 1/13/10
- “Najaf Council: Baath Party responsible for Thursday bombings,” 1/15/10
- “National coalition fighting to prevent return of Baathists,” 1/14/10

Alsumaria, “Iraq MP: Baathists plan to shake elections,” 1/13/10
- “Zebari accuses Syria of implication in Iraq attacks,” 10/30/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Baathist-takfirist alliance to destroy political process – PM,” 9/5/09
- “Demonstrators in Diwaniya call for closing Mutlak’s office,” 1/16/10
- “PM warns of Baathists’ infiltration through election,” 11/15/09

Chulov, Martin, “Baghdad car bombs blamed on Syria and Islamists by Iraqi government,” Guardian, 12/9/09

Roads To Iraq, “Ba’ath Party and the election – 2,” 11/27/09

Sands, Phil, “A safe haven in Damascus,” The National, 8/29/09

Sly, Liz, “Iraqi election crisis poses a test for U.S.,” Los Angeles Times, 1/20/10

Visser, Reidar, “The 511 De-Baathification Cases: Sectarianism or Despotism?” Historiae, 1/20/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Economy Surpasses Security In New Iraqi Opinion Poll

From December 22-30, 2009 the English based YouGov internet research firm conducted an opinion poll of 1,561 Iraqis from all of the country’s eighteen provinces that found that economic issues surpassed security as the main concern of those questioned. 21% said unemployment was the most important issue in Iraq currently, followed by 16% who said it was security, and 15% who said it was financial insecurity. The lack of jobs, services, and opportunities has long been an issue in Iraq even before the invasion as wars and the U.N. sanctions crippled the Iraqi economy. During the run-up to the 2005 and 2009 elections the same concerns were voiced, but security was a more important issue since Iraq was still in the throngs of an insurgency then. In a February 2009 poll done by ABC, NHK, and the BBC for example, lack of security and terrorist attacks were rated as the two biggest problems facing the country, while economic problems was tied for third. When asked what were the main issues the public faced personally however, high prices and lack of jobs were the top two responses.

Another question on how Iraq was doing overall found respondents almost evenly divided between pessimists and optimists. 46% said that Iraq was going in the wrong direction, while 44% said it was doing the opposite. In the ABC/NHK/BBC poll from February 2009 58% said that Iraq was doing good, while 40% said it was doing bad. The new results might reflect the lack of economic development and political progress in Iraq despite the improvement in security and the January 2009 provincial elections, along with the return of large-scale bombings in Baghdad that began in August 2009.

It should be noted that YouGov is limited to those with internet access, so that might skew the results towards middle to upper class Iraqis.

SOURCES

BBC, ABC, NHK, “Iraq Poll February 2009,” 3/16/09

Al-Wazzan, Saleem, “basra’s dominant parties expect to maintain power,” Niqash, 12/15/08

Zawya, “More Iraqis fear unemployment than security issues, YouGov Siraj research report reveals,” 1/12/10

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kurds And Supreme Council Re-Affirm Alliance Before 2010 Iraqi Elections

On January 12, 2010 the head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Iraqi National Alliance Ammar al-Hakim traveled to Kurdistan. Hakim first went to Irbil where he met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Barham Salah. The next day Hakim traveled to Sulaymaniya where he met with Iraqi President and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) chief Jalal Talabani. These talks coincided with a conference between the political bureaus of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and PUK in Irbil. The purpose of Hakim’s visit was to solidify the alliance between the SIIC, KDP, and PUK before the March 2010 elections.

The result of the trip was an announcement by Hakim of plans to form a national coalition to rule the country after the voting this year. Hakim said that no party could run Iraq with just 51% of the seats in parliament, and that a broad based collection of lists would be needed instead. This is an attempt to replay 2005 and 2006 when the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance led by the SIIC joined with the KDP-PUK’s Kurdish Alliance to form the backbone of both Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s governments.

The SIIC and Kurds have had a long-standing relationship since the 1980s. That was when all three parties fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq War. After the fall of Saddam they took leadership positions in the U.S. created Iraqi Governing Council in 2003, and then the interim Iraqi government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in 2004. In the January and December 2005 national balloting, the SIIC led United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance walked away with the lions share of the votes. In parliament they continued to work together to push through the 2005 constitution that included policies they advocated such as federalism and an article on Kirkuk, and a federal regions law in October 2006. They also worked actively to defeat or hold up legislation they were against like a new oil law, the provincial powers law, and the 2009 and 2010 provincial election laws.

Heading into the 2010 vote the two sides are hoping to maintain their relationship. Besides their advocacy for federalism, opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also unites them. Any broad coalition they might attempt to form after the elections will likely be aimed at keeping Maliki out of a second term, and naming one of their own as the new prime minister of Iraq.

SOURCES

AK News, “MP: Ammar al-Hakim’s visit Kurdistan, confers with President Barzani,” 1/13/10

Associated Press, “A Look at Iraq’s New Interim Government,” 6/1/04

Aswat al-Iraq, “Barzani, Ammar al-Hakim discuss forming ‘wide national bloc’ in Iraq,” 1/12/10
- “Al-Hakim calls to resort to constitution to tackle problems between Arbil, Baghdad,” 1/13/10
- “Political bureaus of KDP, PUK meet in Arbil,” 1/13/10
- “President Talabani to meet SIIC chief in Sulaimaniya,” 1/13/10
- “PUK, KDP agree to form national bloc – al-Hakim,” 1/14/10

BBC, “Guide to Iraqi political parties,” 1/20/06

Burns, John and Glanz, James, “Iraqi Shiites Win, but Margin Is less Than Projection,” New York Times, 2/14/05

International Crisis Group, “Iraq After The Surge II: The Need for a New Political Strategy,” 4/30/88
- “Shiite Politics In Iraq: The Role Of The Supreme Council,” 11/15/07

Tyler, Patrick, “Iraq pieces together its first postwar governing council,” San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13/03

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Iranian Ambassador To Iraq Is From Revolutionary Guards

Iraqi paper al-Zaman reported that Tehran has appointed a new ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danafar. Like the outgoing ambassador, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, Danafar is from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force. Kazemi-Qomi was exposed as a member of the Revolutionary Guards in October 2007 by then commander of U.S. forces in Iraq General David Petraeus as part of an effort to counter Tehran’s support for militants. Earlier in his career Qomi helped organize Hezbollah in Lebanon. Danafar on the other hand, was the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards' navy.

The Qods Force is the main way Iran exerts influence in Iraq. It was created in 1990 as the foreign policy arm of the Revolutionary Guards. It has extensive ties with leading Iraqi parties such as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Dawa, the Sadrists, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party that it all fostered while Saddam was in power. It also funds some of these parties, has trained and equipped Shiite militias, provides economic aid to Iraq, and is charge of the crossings points in between the two countries used for trade.

Danafar’s appointment, like that of Kazemi-Qomi, shows that Iran does not want to have normal relations with Iraq. It would rather maintain a mix of overt and covert ties with Iraq’s parties and militias as it has since the 2003 invasion. This is to achieve its main goals of making sure Shiites stay in power in the 2010 elections so that Iraq never becomes a rival again, and increasing economic and cultural relations.

SOURCES

Dreyfuss, Robert, “Is Iran Winning the War in Iraq?” The Nation, 2/26/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Yates, Dean, “Petraeus says Iran stoking Iraq violence,” Reuters, 10/7/07

Al-Zaman, “Iran Appoints IRGC Commander As Ambassador to Iraq,” MEMRI Blog, 1/14/10

The Continuing Saga Of The Candidate Banning In Iraq

The story of the Iraqi Accountability and Justice and Election Commissions’ banning of 500 candidates from the March 2010 voting for alleged Baathist ties has taken a few new turns. First, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has finally come out in favor of the ban. He said that the decision of the Accountability and Justice Commission should be adhered to. He also commented that the process should not be politicized, which ignores the fact that the Commission members have used it as a partisan tool since its inception in 2003, and that its head, Ali al-Lami, is running as a candidate for the Iraqi National Alliance. Second, the Election Commission is debating whether just the 400 politicians are barred from participating in the balloting or all their parties as well. As Reidar Visser of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs points out, there is no legal basis in the constitution or election law that mentions blocking entire parties from running. Of course, the Accountability and Justice Commission’s members haven’t even been appointed by parliament, but everyone is going along with their decisions, so legality may not matter in this situation. Third, a document has emerged that allegedly shows that Saleh al-Mutlaq, the head of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front and the most prominent politician banned, had contact with Iraqi intelligence in 2002. This was supposedly used in the Accountability and Justice Commission’s ruling against him. There is no reporting on whether the document is real or not, and again, given the circumstances, may not matter. Fourth, Mutlaq and all those banned can appeal their cases to a 7-member board of judges that was just created a few days ago. There is a concern that they may not be able to go through all the cases before the March 2010 balloting however, which may exclude candidates even if they are ultimately found innocent. Finally, there is news that the Accountability and Justice Commission may not be finished and could demand that a total of 1,200 candidates be blocked from running.

It was hoped that the 2010 parliamentary vote would be a continuation of the 2009 provincial elections where nationalist parties did much better than ethnosectarian ones, and Sunnis came out in high numbers. This in turn, would usher in a new wave of politicians to replace a group of lawmakers that have achieved very little in their four years in office, and are very unpopular as a result. The decisions of the Accountability and Justice and Election Commissions however have not only marked a return to sectarian politics, but also threatened to undermine the legitimacy of the 2010 balloting, along with bringing into question the legality of the entire Iraqi political process. Unless some institution challenges the chicanery going on, this fiasco will only continue, and could get worse.

SOURCES

AK News, “Electoral commission discusses the issue of excluded entities and candidates,” 1/17/10

Roads To Iraq, “Three Sunni candidates for the presidency, Zebari to the Vice-President,” 1/17/10

Sly, Liz, “Iraqi prime minister backs ban on 500 election candidates,” Los Angeles, 1/17/10

Visser, Reidar, “The Bloc That Has No De-Baathification Worries,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 1/17/10
- “Constitutional Disintegration (Part III): The IHEC Is Making Up the Law,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 1/15/10

Friday, January 15, 2010

Iraq's Election Commission Okays Ban On Mutlaq And Others From 2010 Vote

On January 14, 2010, the Iraqi Election Commission approved the Accountability and Justice Commission’s ban on parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq and 500 other candidates from participating in the March 2010 national vote for alleged Baathist connections. That was an increase from earlier reports that mentioned only 400 candidates as being singled out. The Election Commission said that Accountability and Justice had asked for 11 more political lists and their candidates to be banned as well. All of the parties can appeal the decision although whether that process will work or is legal is up in the air. This latest turn of events points to the continuing instability in Iraq's electoral and legal systems. 

The Accountability and Justice Act was passed by parliament in January 2008, and approved the following month. It was never enacted however, so the old members of the DeBaathification Commission simply slid over to the new Accountability and Justice Commission without parliamentary approval. Even with this lack of legal standing the Election Commission still decided to go with the Accountability and Justice Commission on Mutlaq and the others. Now the accused are supposed to be able to go to a seven-judge appeals court that was appointed just a few days ago. Some lawmakers have accused three of the judges of being Baathists as well, adding to the drama of Iraqi politics.

If the appeals court approves the Accountability and Justice ban it would not only be a setback for the 2010 vote, but a dangerous precedent for Iraq’s developing political system. Sunnis have been struggling to rejoin Iraq’s political process since 2005 when they boycotted elections. In 2009 Sunni areas had the highest increase in voter turnout during the provincial balloting. Banning Mutlaq could lesson their enthusiasm to participate by making them feel like their votes and voice don’t matter since their leaders can be removed at any time. Just as important, it would show that any official who was involved with the former regime in any capacity could be excluded at the whim of the Accountability and Justice Commission that has a questionable legal standing and a clear sectarian history, showing that Iraq is not really a country ruled by law. As a Shiite member of the Accountability and Justice committee in parliament told McClatchy Newspapers, “The political climate cannot tolerate what this shady commission is doing. It’s not because it’s going after candidates with Baathist connections that I criticize it, but because it has a filthy sectarian agenda and is manipulating the rules and regulations to attain its goals;" those being eliminating its political opponents, playing on sectarian tensions, and staying in power.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, "500 Iraq candidates banned from elections," 1/15/10

Aswat al-Iraq “IHEC excludes 500 candidates from election,” 1/14/10

BBC, "Iraqi election commission bans 500 candidates," 1/15/10

Mahdi, Osama, “Discrimination decisions of the judges are threatened with de-Baathification deracination,” Elaph, 1/12/10

Shadid, Anthony, "Iraqi Commission Bars Nearly 500 Candidates," New York Times, 1/15/10

Visser, Reidar, “More De-Baathification Antics in the Iraqi Parliament,” 1/10/10
- “System Failure: The Ban on Mutlak,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 1/14/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Voter Dissatisfaction Growing In Anbar?

There are a few scattered reports that could bode ill for the March 2010 elections in Anbar. They all involve growing discontent amongst the public about their politicians, and their inability to improve the standard of living or maintain security in the province. Those issues could lead to lower voter turnout this year.

The on-line magazine Niqash talked with the director of the Election Commission in the province who said that there is less enthusiasm this year to vote than in 2009. He said that in last year’s provincial elections candidates promised better services and jobs, but have not delivered. In response, he is launching an outreach program with local sheikhs and community leaders to talk to their constituents about voting.

A recent series of headline grabbing attacks have also lessened enthusiasm about politicians. On December 30, 2009 two suicide bombers attacked the provincial council building killing a council member, three senior security officials, and 26 others, and injuring 100 including Governor Qassim al-Fahdawi. On January 7, five bombs targeted police and other officials in Hit, wounding ten and killing eight. Conflicts between the various parties and tribes in the province have been blamed. The sheikhs in the Anbar Awakening for one have broken up into several rival factions that ran against each other in 2009 and are expected to do the same in 2010. They are endlessly accusing each other of nefarious deeds, and these differences are allowing space for insurgents to operate. These issues have garnered little confidence that the local government will be able to deal with future security incidents.

The security forces are also engrossed in controversy. The former police chief General Tariq al-Assal, who was just recently replaced after the December 30 bombings, complained that officials didn’t listen to his advice about security, that they refused to have their cars or men be searched, and that council members interfered with his work. The security forces in turn, have been criticized because almost all of them are tribal fighters with no experience or training. The recent attacks even led to 400 people demonstrating in Ramadi in early January 2010 calling for better security and to end corruption.

All of these factors together could lead to fewer voters turning out in March. In the January 2009 elections, 40% of the voting public in Anbar participated, compared to just 2% in January 2005 when there was a Sunni boycott. Now that might be threatened by the new local officials inability to deliver on their campaign promises or to prevent attacks. An even larger problem could occur if this sentiment happens across the country, as not much has changed in daily life in Iraq since the 2009 election. Last year saw a drop in voter participation already with 51% casting ballots, compared to 58% in 2005. Every province in southern Iraq saw a decrease except for Muthanna that had the same percentage as 2005, which offset the large increases in Sunni areas. Less people voting would be a blow to Iraq’s attempt to develop a democracy. Popular dissatisfaction with their politicians, can translate into less support for the government, and a return to a strong man or other forms of authoritarianism that promise to get things working at the expense of people’s freedom.

SOURCES

Arraf, Jane, “Ramadi struggles to instill a rule of law,” Christian Science Monitor, 8/21/09

Dagher, Sam, “In Anbar Province, New Leadership, but Old Problems Persist,” New York Times, 9/13/09

Fadel, Leila and Hastings, Michael, “Deadly blasts underscore tenuous security in Iraq’s Anbar province,” Washington Post, 1/8/10

Lawrence, Quil, “Violence Returns To Anbar As U.S. Steps Back,” NPR, 1/11/10

Al-Mukhtar, Uthman, “Fear Grips Anbar After Bombings,” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 1/5/10

Niqash, “anbar voters more phlegmatic this time round,” 1/11/10

Shadid, Anthony, “In Anbar, U.S.-Allied Tribal Chiefs Feel Deep Sense of Abandonment,” Washington Post, 10/3/09

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Provinces Complain About 2010 Budget

Five of Iraq’s eighteen provinces have complained about the proposed 2010 budget, and several others have rejected it outright. Anbar was the first, when the head of its provincial council said on December 12, 2009 that the budget would not set aside enough for its needs. It called for the central government to appropriate more funds. Then on December 15, Baghdad’s governor said that the budget would threaten several development plans including new hospitals. On December 19, Wasit’s provincial council said they rejected the budget, and called on other provinces to do the same. A council member said they would only get $87 million next year, compared to $91 million they got this year. Later, on December 29 the governor of Maysan said the central government should give the provinces more money for development, and warned of a rejection as well. On December 31, a conference of southern and central provincial councils held in Najaf called on Baghdad to allocate 25% of the 2010 budget to the provinces. They claimed the proposed budget only appropriates 6% to provincial councils, which they said would not be enough for further reconstruction. Some of those same provinces later announced that they too were rejecting the new budget. That was followed by reporters being told by Basra's deputy governor on January 4 that the next budget would leave his province with a 30% deficit. The same day, the governor of the province said that they deserved more money due to Basra's size and importance. He called for  the central government to either allow Basra to charge fees on its oil and trade, or set aside 20% of the ministries' spending to development efforts. Finally, on January 6 Tamim's governor sent an official letter to protest its proposed allocation.

Iraq’s 2009 budget was for $58.6 billion. The 2010 budget is for $67 billion, and has been approved by the cabinet, but is still in parliament for debate. A spokesman said $17.83 billion of the budget would be for development, 26.6% of the total, and the rest would be for operational costs that go towards salaries, pensions, the food ration system, etc. That would be an increase from the 2009 budget, where approximately $11.72 billion, 20%, was for investment. The provinces however, have seen a large cut in their funding since 2008 after oil prices dropped, which is the major source of revenue for the government. From 2008 to 2009 for example, Iraq’s eighteen governorates faced a $1.748.2 million decrease.

It’s unlikely that these local demands will be met. Iraq is currently running a $16 billion deficit, and the 2010 budget is projected to be short $15.3 billion. The major reason is that Iraq has not been able to meet the oil export mark set in the budget. The provincial councils also signed a large number of projects in 2008, which they are still paying for. Iraq’s provinces then, will have to suffer like the rest of Iraq’s government.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, "Iraq central and southern provinces reject 2010 allocations," 1/4/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Anbar official says 2010 budget for province insufficient,” 12/12/09
- “Baghdad’s governor presses for higher budget,” 12/15/09
- "Basra faces 30 percent deficit in budget," 1/4/10
- “Missan governor demands higher budget for provincial development projects,” 12/29/09
- “Najaf conf. wants 25% of budget to provinces,” 12/31/09
- “Wassit council rejects 2010 provincial budget,” 12/19/09

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Iraq Cabinet approves $67 billion budget for 2010,” Associated Press, 10/14/09

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 10/30/09

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 Review Of Iraqi Violence

2009 was characterized by the lowest levels of violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. This was due to the majority of Sunnis rejecting violence and turning to politics, which began with the Anbar Awakening and Sons of Iraq movements, followed by high voter turnout by them in the January 2009 provincial elections. The Shiite militias were also dispersed and disbanded during 2008 due to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s offensives. Iran also has a history of reducing its support for militants before important political events, which were the 2009 and upcoming 2010 balloting. The result is that large scale fighting is over in the country, and there are hardly any reports of gunmen even attacking U.S. or Iraqi forces head on. Instead, most attacks are drive by shootings, grenades, assassinations, car bombs, rocket and mortar fire, IEDs, magnetic bombs, and suicide bombers with a few mass casualty bombings thrown in. All together that led to almost a 50% drop in deaths from 2008. Iraq’s ministries for instance, reported 6,772 deaths in 2008, compared to 3,492 in 2009.

Monthly deaths followed an up and down pattern throughout the year. All five major organizations that cover casualties, the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index, Iraq Body Count, icasualties, Iraq’s ministries, and the Associated Press showed deaths declining in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the last quarter of 2008. Then they went up in the second quarter, down in the third, and then down for the last half of the year. Iraq’s ministries for example, recorded an average of 324.6 deaths in the fourth quarter of 2008, 233.6 deaths in the first quarter of 2009, 319.3 deaths in the second quarter, 311.3 deaths in the third, and 299.6 deaths in the last. In the second half of the year, the major cause for the increase in deaths every other month was large-scale bombings in Baghdad of government buildings beginning in August. According to Iraq Body Count, there were actually more large bombings that resulted in 50 or more deaths in 2009, than the previous year. In 2008 there were nine such attacks leading to 534 deaths, and in 2009 there were eight resulting in 750 deaths. In total, there were 226 mass casualty bombings with ten or more casualties last year, resulting in 1,933 reported deaths, and 6,945 wounded.

Despite these large decreases Iraq has more casualties from terrorist attacks than any other country in the world. Iraq Body Count recorded an average of 8.3 deaths per day from suicide attacks or car bombs, and 4.3 killed by gunfire or executions per day last year. Violence also still occurs in all parts of the country. In December 2009 there were attacks in thirteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, and in November in fourteen governorates. Baghdad, Ninewa, Anbar, Tamim, Diyala, Salahaddin, and Babil had the most attacks showing that governorates that had mixed populations were the most violent. Baghdad has the most security incidents and casualties overall, but on a per capita basis Mosul in northern Ninewa had more. Mosul, with a population of about 1.8 million people had 735 deaths recorded by Iraq Body Count in 2008, compared to 1,488 deaths in Baghdad with a population of approximately 6.5 million. Mosul also had more violent incidents that resulted in deaths at 538 compared to 277 in Baghdad.

2010 will likely be more of the same. Deaths have hit a relative plateau, and settled into an up and down monthly pattern. Al Qaeda in Iraq is still set at destabilizing the government by carrying out a mix of sectarian and spectacular terrorist attacks on institutions, while actual fighting has all but ceased. Large victories by Sunni parties in central and northern Iraq in the next election could lead to a slight reduction in attacks there as happened in Mosul after the al-Hadbaa party took power in 2009. Otherwise Iraq will face increasing stability, but a large terrorist threat at the same time.


Iraqi Deaths

Brookings Institution
Iraq Body Count
icasualties
Iraqi Ministries
Associated Press
2008





July
500
584
419
465
510
Aug.
450
592
311
431
475
Sep.
400
535
366
440
503
Oct.
350
528
288
318
446
Nov.
270
473
317
340
360
Dec.
350
522
320
316
393
TOTALS
6,360
9,226
5,929
6,772
7,496
2009





Jan.
270
276
187
191
242
Feb.
230
343
202
258
288
March
260
416
278
252
335
April
340
484
347
355
371
May
240
333
188
165
225
June
320
488
367
438
447
July
220
395
240
275
309
Aug.
300
593
439
456
425
Sep.
200
299
158
203
238
Oct.
280
410
320
410
364
Nov.
150
205
106
122
93
Dec.
N/A
442
287
367
383
TOTALS
N/A
4,684
3,119
3,492
3,720
Averages





3rd Qtr. 2008
450.0
570.3
365.3
446.3
496.0
4th Qtr.

2008
323.3
507.6
308.3
324.6
379.6
1st Qtr.

2009
253.3
345.0
222.3
233.6
288.3
2nd Qtr. 2009
300.0
435.0
300.6
319.3
347.6
3rd Qtr. 2009
240.0
429.0
279.0
311.3
324.0
4th Qtr. 2009
N/A
352.3
237.6
299.6
280.0
Last 6 months of 2008
386.6
539.0
336.8
385.0
447.8
First 6 months of 2009
276.6
389.8
261.5
276.5
318.0
Last 6 months of 2009
N/A
390.6
258.3
305.5
302.0



Mass Casualty Bombings 2009

Months
Bombings
Deaths
Wounded
Jan.
10
104
185
Feb.
8
52
143
Mar.
15
155
297
Apr.
21
198
497
May
9
111
262
Jun.
14
174
517
Jul.
35
180
655
Aug.
44
359
2,252
Sep.
13
70
263
Oct.
22
241
887
Nov.
10
43
136
Dec.
25
246
851
TOTALS:
226
1,933
6,945
Avg.
18.8
161.0
578.7


Attacks and Casualties By Province December 2009


Baghdad
Attacks: 95
Dead: 217
Wounded: 831 + 3 Americans

Ninewa
Attacks: 73
Dead: 58
Wounded: 134

Anbar
Attacks: 30
Dead: 39
Wounded: 71

Tamim
Attacks: 33
Dead: 21
Wounded: 56

Diyala
Attacks: 19
Dead: 17
Wounded: 30

Salahaddin
Attacks: 9
Dead: 15
Wounded: 25

Southern Iraq: 18
Babil: 5
Karbala: 5
Basra: 3
Wasit: 2
Maysan: 1
Najaf: 1
Qadisiyah: 1
Dead: 31
Wounded: 158+

Likely Special Groups Attacks In Southern Iraq

Rocket attack on U.S. base in Basra, 12/5/09
IED attack on U.S. patrol in Karbala 12/17/09
Katyusha attack on U.S. base in Wasit 12/26/09

Kurdistan:
Attacks: 2
Dead: 2
Wounded: 0

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq death toll in 2009 lowest since the invasion,” 1/1/10
- “Iraq Hails Lowest Monthly Death Toll in Three Years,” 1/2/09
- “Six anti-Qaeda fighters gunned down in Iraq: police,” 12/7/09

Associated Press, “Iraq: Key figures since the war began,” 12/1/09
- “Iraq: Key figures since the war began,” 1/4/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “2 Baghdad blasts wound 4 civilians,” 12/21/09
- “2 bodyguards died of wounds in Ninewa,” 12/25/09
- “2 civilians gunned down in Mosul,” 12/28/09
- “2 civilians killed, 3 wounded in fresh attack in Baghdad,” 12/9/09
- “2 civilians wounded in Baghdad blast,” 12/22/09
- “2 cops wounded in Kirkuk blast,” 12/6/09
- “2 cops wounded in Mosul bombing,” 12/30/09
- “2 gunmen arrested in Najaf,” 12/14/09
- “2 gunmen killed, detained in western Mosul,” 12/28/09
- “2 IEDs wound civilians, cops in Baghdad,” 12/21/09
- “2 Iraqi soldiers killed in Ninewa attack,” 12/3/09
- “2 persons killed in tribal clash near Amara,” 12/26/09
- “2 pilgrims killed, 11 wounded in Baghdad blasts,” 12/26/09
- “2nd attack on Shiite mourners leaves 2 dead, 7 wounded,” 12/23/09
- “2nd Falluja bombing injures civilian,” 12/20/09
- “2nd Talafar resident killed by gunmen,” 12/19/09
- “3 car bombs kill 4, wound 14 in Baghdad,” 12/15/09
- “3 civilians injured in southwest of Kirkuk,” 12/15/09
- “3 civilians wounded in downtown Baghdad blast,” 12/14/09
- “3 civilians wounded in mortar attack in Baghdad,” 12/23/09
- “3 cops wounded in Diala blast,” 12/5/09
- “3 cops wounded in IED blast in Ramadi,” 12/16/09
- “3 mortar shells land on former public security building,” 12/15/09
- “3 rockets fired at Delta base,” 12/26/09
- “3 rockets land in Baghdad’s Green Zone,” 12/12/09
- “3 students wounded in Falluja blast,” 12/20/09
- “3rd Falluja blast leaves no casualties,” 12/13/09
- “4 civilians wounded in Baghdad blast,” 12/29/09
- “4 cops killed in western Baghdad,” 12/23/09
- “5 wounded as IED blast rips through Mosul,” 12/10/09
- “5 civilians wounded in Baghdad blast,” 12/4/09
- “5 civilians wounded in market blast in Baghdad,” 12/23/09
- “5 wounded in blast in Baghdad,” 12/26/09
- “6 cops wounded in Kirkuk bombing,” 12/27/09
- “6 killed, wounded in market blast,” 12/6/09
- “8 injured in Babel blast,” 12/19/09
- “9 killed, wounded in two blasts south of Baghdad – BOC,” 12/11/09
- “10 men nabbed, girl found dead in Basra,” 12/30/09
- “13 killed, wounded as Baghdad attacks continue,” 12/9/09
- “22 pilgrims killed or wounded in Karabala,” 12/24/09
- “31 pilgrims killed, wounded in Baghdad blast,” 12/23/09
- “Anbar council member survives assassination attempt,” 12/23/09
- “Anbar council’s member dies, governor lost left hand,” 12/31/09
- “Anbar emergency police chief escapes assassination attempt in Falluja,” 12/25/09
- “AQI assassinated Talafar council chief – source,” 12/22/09
- “Army patrol hit by IED in Mosul,” 12/14/09
- “Army recruit killed, 19 injured in Mosul bombing,” 12/13/09
- “Asayesh member killed by IED near Kirkuk,” 12/30/09
- “Attack on Shiite procession leaves 3 killed, 7 wounded in Baghdad,” 12/25/09
- “Baghdad’s local council member survives IED blast,” 12/25/09
- “Basra airport comes under Katyusha attack,” 12/5/09
- “Blast in Baghdad leaves 4 injuries,” 12/14/09
- “Blast kills 3 Peshmerga forces, injures 10 in Sinjar,” 12/25/09
- “Blast near Mosul church kills 4, wounds 40,” 12/15/09
- “Bodies of 2 civilians found in Kirkuk,” 12/19/09
- “Body of merchant found hours after kidnapping west of Mosul,” 12/13/09
- “Body of young girl salvaged from river in Kut,” 12/18/09
- “Bomb explodes in Falluja without casualties,” 12/1/09
- “Bomb hits police patrol in Kirkuk,” 12/13/09
- “Bomb kills 2 and wounds 3 civilians in Babel,” 12/22/09
- “Bomb kills 3, wounds 8 in Baghdad,” 12/9/09
- “Bomb targets motorcade of lawmaker in Talafar,” 12/26/09
- “Bomb wounds 2 civilians in Mosul,” 12/1/09
- “Bomb wounds civilian in village near Kirkuk,” 12/13/09
- “Bus blast kills 2, wounds 5 in Baghdad,” 12/16/09
- “Casualties from mourning tent blast reaches 6,” 12/23/09
- “Child wounded in IED blast in Mosul,” 12/3/09
- “Child wounded in thermal bomb attack in Mosul,” 12/17/09
- “Christian killed in eastern Mosul,” 12/24/09
- “Christian killed in Mosul,” 12/17/09
- “Civilian gunned down in Baghdad,” 12/2/09
- “Civilian injured, 2 al-Naqshabandiya group gunmen arrested in Diala,” 12/21/09
- “Civilian killed, 3 wounded as sticky bomb explodes in Baghdad,” 12/23/09
- “Civilian killed, 4 injured in Baghdad blast,” 12/27/09
- “Civilian killed, 4 wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad,” 12/25/09
- “Civilian killed, another found dead in Khanaqin,” 12/16/09
- “Civilian killed, body found in Mosul,” 12/25/09
- “Civilian killed by gunmen in Arbil,” 12/8/09
- “Civilian killed, child injured in Mosul,” 12/29/09
- “Civilian killed in Falluja blast,” 12/23/09
- “Civilian killed in Falluja blast,” 12/26/09
- “Civilian wounded in central Kirkuk blast,” 12/20/09
- “Civilian wounded in north Hilla blast,” 12/11/09
- “Civilian killed in northern Mosul,” 12/15/09
- “Civilian killed in western Mosul,” 12/21/09
- “Civilian killed inside own store in Mosul,” 12/17/09
- “Civilian wounded in eastern Mosul,” 12/10/09
- “Cop critically injured in Baghdad shooting,” 12/5/09
- “Cop gunned down in Mosul,” 12/19/09
- “Cop killed, 2 wounded in Mosul blast,” 12/8/09
- “Cop killed, civilian wounded in 2 incidents in Mosul,” 12/19/09
- “Cop killed during arrest operation,” 12/16/09
- “Cop wounded by gunmen fire in Mosul,” 12/9/09
- “Corpses of 2 Sahwa fighters found in Kirkuk,” 12/7/09
- “Driver kidnapped, 4 suspects arrested in Salah al-Din,” 12/3/09
- “ED explodes inside restaurant in Karbala,” 12/24/09
- “Emergency policeman killed in armed attack in Kirkuk” 12/21/09
- “Ex-cop gunned down in Mosul,” 12/5/09
- “Ex-MP survives attempt on life,” 12/19/09
- “Falluja blast kills civilian, wounds 3,” 12/8/09
- “Falluja mosque preacher survives attempt,” 12/17/09
- “Fresh Baghdad blast leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded,” 12/24/09
- “Girl wounded by gunmen in Kirkuk,” 12/21/09
- “Government vehicle attacked in Talafar,” 12/12/09
- “Gunman arrested after attacking government vehicle,” 12/15/09
- “Gunmen detonate policeman’s house in Falluja,” 12/23/09
- “Gunmen kidnap son of traffic police chief,” 12/19/09
- “Gunman killed, another wounded in Ninewa blast,” 12/4/09
- “Gunman kills policeman in Falluja,” 12/14/09
- “Gunmen kill 3 employees in Mosul,” 12/25/09
- “Gunmen kill 4 cops in Baghdad,” 12/6/09
- “Gunmen kill civilian in Kirkuk,” 12/24/09
- “Gunmen kill cop in Mosul,” 12/21/09
- “Gunmen kill soldier in Baghdad,” 12/2/09
- “Gunmen slay prominent figure in Jalawlaa,” 12/24/09
- “Gunmen wound Christian in western Mosul,” 12/30/09
- “Hand grenade injures 3 people in Mosul,” 12/29/09
- “Hilla bombings kill 25, wound 105 – source,” 12/25/09
- “IED blast in Baghdad’s Karrada, no casualties,” 12/17/09
- “IED blast in Sadr City leaves 27 casualties,” 12/24/09
- “IED blast near Kirkuk leaves 4 wounded,” 12/26/09
- “IED blast near police HQ in Mosul,” 12/6/09
- “IED explodes near church in Mosul; no casualties,” 12/15/09
- “IED injures 2 in Baghdad,” 12/14/09
- “IED injures 3 civilians in Falluja,” 12/16/09
- “IED kills 6, wounds 10 in Diala,” 12/30/09
- “IED kills civilian, injures 6 in Baghdad,” 12/3/09
- “IED targeting Shiite procession leaves 10 casualties,” 12/26/09
- “IED targets US vehicle in eastern Karbala,” 12/17/09
- “IED wounds 2 civilians, 5 wanted men arrested in Diala,” 12/8/09
- “IED wounds 3 servicemen in Diala,” 12/30/09
- “IED wounds civilian in Falluja,” 12/22/09
- “Iranian envoy says embassy blast caused no casualties, damage,” 12/15/09
- “Iraqi soldier killed, brother wounded in Mosul,” 12/22/09
- “Iraqi soldier killed in armed attack in Kirkuk,” 12/6/09
- “Iraqi soldier killed in eastern Mosul,” 12/15/09
- “Iraqi servicemen wound civilian in Mosul,” 12/14/09
- “Iraqi soldier wounded by gunmen bullets in Kirkuk,” 12/11/09
- “Iraq soldier wounded in Mosul blast,” 12/12/09
- “Judge injured in armed attack in Kirkuk,” 12/29/09
- “Judicial council member survives assassination attempt,” 12/22/09
- “Karbala blast wounds 9 people,” 12/24/09
- “Laborer found dead in Mosul,” 12/16/09
- “MNF patrol attacked in Kirkuk,” 12/8/09
- “Mosul attack’s casualties up to 7,” 12/23/09
- “Mosul mayor escapes assassination attempt,” 12/24/09
- “Municipal council chief survives attempt on life,” 12/15/09
- “Officer gunned down in central Baghdad,” 12/26/09
- “Officer survives attempt on life in Kirkuk,” 12/21/09
- “Old man injured in armed attack in Mosul,” 12/28/09
- “Police chief survives attempt on life in Kirkuk,” 12/22/09
- “Police kill armed man in Mosul,” 12/28/09
- “Police kill gunman in Mosul,” 12/30/09
- “Police officer dies of wounds in Kirkuk,” 12/21/09
- “Police officer survives assassination attempt in Baiji,” 12/16/09
- “Police officer, woman wounded by thermal bomb in Mosul,” 12/15/09
- “Police officer wounded by sticky bomb in Baghdad,” 12/16/09
- “Police officer wounded in Falluja,” 12/8/09
- “Policeman dies of wounds in Kirkuk,” 12/12/09
- “Policeman wounded by gunmen fire in Mosul,” 12/3/09
- “Policeman wounded in attack on his patrol in Mosul,” 12/6/09
- “Policeman wounded in Mosul blast,” 12/12/09
- “Ramadi 2nd blast injures five,” 12/30/09
- “Ramadi bombings casualties rise to 57,” 12/30/09
- “Retired army officer gunned down in Mosul,” 12/23/09
- “Roadside bomb wounds 2 Iraqi soldiers in Ninewa,” 12/10/09
- “Sahwa council member killed in Kirkuk,” 12/27/09
- “Sahwa fighter killed, 3 wounded near Kirkuk,” 12/6/09
- “Sahwa fighter wounded by gunmen fire near Kirkuk,” 12/13/09
- “Sahwa leader killed as bomb explodes in Baghdad,” 12/16/09
- “Senior officer survives assassination attempt in Mosul,” 12/10/09
- “Serviceman wounded in Kirkuk attack,” 12/1/09
- “Soldier killed, medic injured in shooting in Mosul,” 12/22/09
- “Six civilians killed, injured in Baghdad,” 12/7/09
- “Sticky bomb explodes in eastern Falluja,” 12/25/09
- “Sticky bomb injures army officer in Kirkuk,” 12/23/09
- “Sticky bomb kills, injures 2 civilians in Baghdad,” 12/1/09
- “Sticky bomb wounds 2 in Baghdad,” 12/16/09
- “Sticky explosive charge wound civilian in Baghdad,” 12/6/09
- “Stockpile of bombs caused Sadr City blast – spokesman,” 12/7/09
- “Student kidnapped in southern Kirkuk,” 12/30/09
- “Thermal bomb wounds 2 soldiers in Mosul,” 12/21/09
- “Tikrit suicide blast casualties up to 18,” 12/3/09
- “TV channel worker found dead in Basra,” 12/23/09
- “U.S. patrol hit by blast in Baghdad,” 12/5/09
- “U.S. vehicle hit by IED near Kirkuk,” 12/29/09
- “Uni. professor escapes attempt on life in Falluja,” 12/23/09
- “Unknown corpse found, 2 gunmen detained in Diala,” 12/1/09
- “URGENT/4 wounded in clashes between Shabak, Christians in Ninewa,” 12/25/09
- “URGENT/Cart bomb leaves 5 casualties in Mosul,” 12/23/09
- “Young man found dead in Makhmour,” 12/1/09

Al-Dulaimy, Mohammed, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Friday December 11, 2009,” McClatchy Newspapers, 12/11/09
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Icasualties.org

Iraq Body Count, “Civilian deaths from violence in 2009,” 12/31/09

Iraq Today, “War News of Tuesday, December 22, 2009,” 12/22/09

Issa, Sahar, “Round-up of Daily Violence in Iraq – Friday 4 December, 2009,” McClatchy Newspapers, 12/4/09
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Jakes, Lara, “Officials: Gunmen kill 5 Sunni guards in Iraq,” Associated Press, 12/29/09

Kurdish Globe, “Two Iraqi “Awakening” members killed in Kirkuk,” 12/24/09

Londono, Ernesto, “At least 127 dead in string of Baghdad bomb attacks,” Washington Post, 12/8/09

Monsters & Critics, “Iraqi militants attack checkpoint near Falluja,” 12/1/09

O’Hanlon, Michael, Livingston, Ian, “Iraq Index,” 1/7/10

Reuters, “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 1,” 12/1/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 4,” 12/4/09
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- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 12,” 12/12/09
- “FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Dec 22,” 12/22/09
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RTT News, “Chief Of Iraqi Security Forces In Baghdad Replaced After Deadly Bomb Attacks,” 12/9/09

Tawfeeq, Mohammed, “At least 5 Shiite pilgrim skilled in Baghdad,” CNN, 12/23/09

Xinhua, “4 wounded in separate bomb attacks in Iraq,” 12/22/09
- “5 Iraqis killed in violence in Iraq,” 12/12/09
- “Policeman killed, 8 injured in bomb attacks in Iraq,” 12/21/09
- “Policeman killed, 9 injured in separate bomb attacks in Iraq,” 12/14/09
- “Two killed in Iraq’s Diyala violence,” 12/14/09