Friday, February 02, 2007

NIE: The Surge Can't Work

Small wonder that BushCo tried to delay the release of the latest NIE on Iraq. It's pretty grim.
Nevertheless, even if violence is diminished, given the current winner-take-all
attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene, Iraqi leaders will be
hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation in the time frame of this
Estimate.

[...]

Sectarian divisions erode the dependability of many units, many are hampered by personnel and equipment shortfalls, and a number of Iraqi units have refused to serve outside of the areas where they were recruited.

Extremists—most notably the Sunni jihadist group al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) and Shia
oppositionist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM)—continue to act as very effective accelerators
for what has become a self-sustaining inter-sectarian struggle between Shia and
Sunnis.

Significant population displacement, both within Iraq and the movement of Iraqis into neighboring countries, indicates the hardening of ethno-sectarian divisions,
diminishes Iraq’s professional and entrepreneurial classes, and strains the capacities
of the countries to which they have relocated. The UN estimates over a million Iraqis are now in Syria and Jordan. [...]

Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.
Read Spencer Ackerman's take on it here. Here's his closing remark:
Oh, and one final thought: this is just what's unclassified. If past NIEs are any prologue, what remains classified is much, much grimmer than what we see here. More likely than not, this is the most optimistic presentation of the NIE possible.

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