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Author Topic: National Intelligence Estimate - Released Today  (Read 544 times)

rnicklaus

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National Intelligence Estimate - Released Today
« on: February 02, 2007, 01:47:28 pm »

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/02/02/iraq.nie/index.html

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence has become the primary source of conflict in the war-ravaged nation and Iraqi leaders will be "hard-pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation" in the next 18 months, according to a summary of the National Intelligence Estimate released Friday.

The report, which was distributed to Congress on Friday and on which President Bush received a briefing Thursday, calls on Iraqi sects -- Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- to make significant concessions to stabilize the country.

However, the summary, a nine-page declassified version of the 90-page report, makes no determination as to whether Iraq is in a civil war.

The summary said that "civil war" is too simple a moniker to describe the situation there because the violence includes "extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al Qaeda [in Iraq] and Sunni insurgent attacks on coalition forces and widespread criminally motivated violence."

However, the term does accurately describe certain elements of the conflict, among them: "the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization and population displacements," according to the summary.

Combating the increasing sectarian violence is a "daunting" task, the summary says, because Shiites are insecure about their hold on power after decades of Sunni hegemony in the social, political and economic realms. (Read full report)

This insecurity makes Shiites distrustful of "U.S. efforts to reconcile Iraqi sects and reinforces their unwillingness to engage with the Sunnis on a variety of issues."

On the other hand, "many Sunni Arabs remain unwilling to accept their minority status, believe the central government is illegitimate and incompetent and are convinced that Shia dominance will increase Iranian influence over Iraq in ways that erode the state's Arab character and increase Sunni repression."

The summary warns that unless sectarian violence is kept in check, the situation in Iraq will continue its downward spiral.

"Unless efforts to reverse these conditions show measurable progress during the term of this estimate in the coming 12 to 18 months, we assess that the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate," the summary said.

Reversing conditions may be difficult because the Iraqi security forces, especially police, are plagued by sectarian divisions as well as equipment and personnel deficiencies, the summary said.

Despite what it calls "real improvements," the summary said that Iraqi forces "will be hard-pressed in the next 12-18 months to execute significantly increased security responsibilities, and particularly to operate independently against Shia militias with success."

The tide could turn if "strengthened" Iraqi security forces -- with more loyalty to the government and more support from U.S.-led coalition forces -- are able to reduce violence, the summary said. Iraqi leaders then could begin working toward "longer term stability, political progress and economic recovery."

Charging that Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence has surpassed the violence spawned by al Qaeda in Iraq, the summary expressed uncertainty about the ability of Iraqi leaders to move beyond sectarian interests, fight extremists, end corruption and build national institutions.

The classified report, titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," also accuses Iran and Syria of aiding and influencing Iraqi extremists and warns that sectarian violence is the most immediate threat to U.S. goals in Iraq, the summary said. Iran and Syria, it stated, are lesser threats to the country's stability.

"Nonetheless, Iranian lethal support for select groups of Iraqi Shia militants clearly intensifies the conflict in Iraq. Syria continues to provide safe haven for expatriate Iraqi Baathists and to take less than adequate measures to stop the flow of foreign jihadists into Iraq," the summary said.

The estimate reportedly contains several dissenting points of view from within the intelligence community.

A senior White House official said the report "paints a picture of a very serious and complex situation on the ground."

The official noted that it said a "rapid withdrawal" of U.S. troops "would lead to further deterioration."

The summary stated that a rapid withdrawal of troops would cripple the Iraqi army, perpetuate the creation of an al Qaeda state in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, and stoke overall violence.

"Coalition capabilities including force levels, resources and operations remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq," the summary said.

Outgoing National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who has been tapped to fill the No. 2 post at the State Department, briefed President Bush on the estimate Thursday, the official said.

Asked if the president should have received the report before announcing his new Iraq strategy to send an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to bolster forces there, the official responded that Bush used "the underlying intelligence in the NIE" to develop his plan.

In remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Negroponte said that Iraq was "at a precarious juncture."

"That means the situation could deteriorate, but there are prospects for increasing stability," Negroponte said, cautioning that quashing extremism and sectarian violence was integral to ensuring stability in Iraq
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rollmottle

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Re: National Intelligence Estimate - Released Today
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2007, 02:35:26 pm »

2 simple words for the Shrub et al: nice one.
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