US Government Agency: “Gloom and Doom in Iraq”

A report from a US government agency looks at Iraq, and fails to see a picnic.

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a “social breakdown” in which criminals have “almost free rein”.

The “conflict assessment” is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward “rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists” described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an “internecine conflict” involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. “It is increasingly common for tribesmen to ‘turn in’ to the authorities enemies as insurgents – this as a form of tribal revenge,” the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.

“External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors,” USAid’s assessment said. “Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.”

The assessment conflicted sharply with recent Pentagon claims that Zarqawi’s group was in “disarray”.

Meanwhile, the insurgency continues to rsvp to Bush’s invitation to “bring ’em on.”

The bodies of 36 Iraqis killed execution-style were found in two villages north of Baghdad on Wednesday, Iraqi officials said. Many of the dead were identified as police recruits from the largely Sunni Arab city of Samarra.

At least 16 people were killed in attacks around the country on Wednesday, including two American civilian security contractors who were killed by a roadside bomb in Basra.

In a swath of desert near Nebaie, a village about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, farmers found 25 bodies, some with police identification badges, said Major Muthana, an aide to the governor of Salahuddin Province. According to a police officer from Taji, a city near the area, the men were from Samarra but had been studying at the Baghdad Police Academy.

Apparently each had been shot in the back of the head within the last day or two, the police officer said.

But don’t forget: We’ve “broken the back” of the insurgency, and victory is right around the corner. The right-wingers say this is all because of cowardly liberals hurting the morale of our soldiers. Maybe there’s another reason. Maybe it’s because people don’t like being occupied, and because we screwed up our post-invasion strategy (or non-strategy) in every conceivable way.

But when you try to make this simple point based on evidence (i.e., piles of corpses), they say you’re a sky-is-falling alarmist. Sorry, but the sky is falling.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

As someone who always has supported the war, I nevertheless agree that nobody likes being occupied, and that the Pentagon royally botched the occupation.

That being said, what do we do from here?

January 18, 2006 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

The two choices seem to be seeing it through with a greater (or at least continued) committment of resources, or a withdrawal on any one of a set of schedules (I’m loathe to use the politically-charged ‘timetable’ word).

January 18, 2006 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

Amazing, we actually agree on a domestic issue. The choices are all painful. Next steps: We have to get out with as much “face” and as few casualties (political, physical, financial) as possible, and without leaving the country immediately vulnerable to breakdown, civil war and chaos. We can only ensure that in the very short-term. Long-term, Iraq will have to be on its own. We will also have to negotiate with the insurgents, painful as that may be; we’re doing it already. We cannot beat them on the batlefield, because there is no battlefield.

January 18, 2006 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Thank goodness that Masshole, Andrew Natsios, is finally gone from USAID.

Restructured the Big Dig contracting with Bechtel to be “Cost-plus” long before he got dragged to Washington.

Brought the cost-plus to Washington and then to Iraq. Guaranteed profits that are a percentage over costs, regardless of how much money gets spent, is a great way to minimise results per dollar while maximising padding your cronies’ wallets per contract.

January 18, 2006 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

There were many reasons that I did not support the war. Beyond my belief that it violated the rule of law, was a huge waste of resources and would create more chaos and terrorism than it prevented, I didn’t trust this Administration to execute it competently because from everything I read about them, they were delusional.

Um, guess what?

January 19, 2006 @ 1:08 am | Comment

As to “where do we go from here?” I try to get to that point and analyze the situation rationally, but I am still so effin’ furious about being placed in the situation of having to figure this out that it’s hard for me to consider our options dispassionately. We should never have had to ask ourselves these questions. Where is the assumption of responsibility for this utterly immoral debacle?

January 19, 2006 @ 1:11 am | Comment

My reading on this: If USAID made this report, then it means the CIA is trying to rein in Rumsfeld’s Pentagon so that they don’t do something even more stupid in Iran.

January 19, 2006 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Two clarifications of my above comment:

1. The CIA overall are not exactly friendly with the Bush White House, especially after Valerie Plame…you just don’t DO that!….

2. Also, the CIA are not a nest of Neo-Cons. The neo-Cons are in the Pentagon, THEY’re the ones who pushed the war in Iraq, and would try to do Iran too….the CIA knows better and I think they’re trying to keep us out of Iran.

January 19, 2006 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Call me physic, but I ‘predicted’ this before the war even begun.

Now, if only I could predict loto numbers as easly as I can predict unwinable quagmires.

January 19, 2006 @ 7:17 am | Comment

No spooks here?

January 19, 2006 @ 11:02 am | Comment

The CIA wasn’t friendly to Bush before the Plame affair.
If things are going so well for the terrorists – why the truce offer from Osama? Do you really believe he would make such an offer if he was winning or even doing well? There are serious problems with the way things are going and we are a long way from pulling out – but even Osama is recognizing the inevitability of a Shia dominated Iraq run by Iraqis.
I believe the choice right now is to put the screws on even harder. Train more Iraqis, give them better weapons – and turn them loose on the terrorists.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

You actually think that was a real truce offer? Youactually think we are “winning” the war on terror. Did you read about the surge in popularity of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and the recent setbacks in Afghanistan. You’re going on one thing, and it’s blind faith. If it makes you feel all warm ‘n fuzzy to think we are winning, more power to you. But I want to see some data. If the number of terrorist attacks and deaths are your barometer, you’re shit out of luck.

Train more Iraqis, give them better weapons – and turn them loose on the terrorists.

Brilliant. Except you’re forgetting that the terrorists ARE Iraqis. Thanks for, in effect, verifying my entitre point about where we are heading in Iraq: civil war.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

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