Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
As it leaves office, the Bush Administration claims it is handing off to President-elect Obama a
security environment in Iraq that is vastly improved over that which prevailed during 2005-2007.
It attributes that “turnaround” to the “troop surge” announced by President Bush on January 10,
2007 (“New Way Forward”). Defense Department reports assess that overall violence is down
about 65% from late 2007 levels, to levels not seen since 2004. A major issue is that President-
elect Obama has indicated that stabilizing Afghanistan should be a higher priority for the United
States than Iraq, but U.S. commanders say that the progress in Iraq is “fragile” and could be
jeopardized by a too rapid draw-down. They recommend measured, incremental “conditions-
based” reductions in U.S. forces and continued building of Iraq’s security forces, until further
political progress produces a unified, democratic Iraq that can govern and defend itself and is an
ally in the war on terror. A U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement (SOFA), ratified by Iraq’s
parliament on November 27, 2008, mandates a U.S. withdrawal by the end of 2011, although
President-elect Obama has said a “residual presence” of U.S. forces might be needed beyond that
U.S. officials are increasingly worried that the many political disputes that remain, and some of
which are escalating, pose the greatest threat to the 2008 achievements. These disputes are
playing out in the run-up to January 31, 2009 elections in fourteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces.
There are growing tensions between the Shiite-dominated government and those Sunni leaders
and fighters who have been key to stabilizing large parts of Iraq, as well as continued concerns
over the degree to which the Shiite faction of Moqtada Al Sadr, although weakened, is integrating
into the political process. Other Shiite parties that have been allied with Maliki – concerned about
his displays of political strength in 2008—are now competing with Maliki’s party and reportedly
assessing the possibility of trying to oust him politically. Tensions have increased significantly
between the Iraqi Kurds and Prime Minister Maliki over Kurdish demands for control of disputed
areas and local energy development. deterioration.
The progress in 2008 came after several years of frustration that Operation Iraqi Freedom had
overthrown Saddam Hussein’s regime, only to see Iraq wracked by a violent Sunni Arab-led
insurgency, resulting Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence, competition among Shiite groups, and the
failure of Iraq’s government to equitably administer justice or deliver services. Mounting U.S.
casualties and financial costs—without clear movement toward national political reconciliation—th
stimulated debate within the 110 Congress over whether a stable Iraq could ever be achieved,
and at what cost. With a withdrawal timetable now set, there is growing U.S. support for
compelling Iraq to fund key functions now funded by the United States.
This report is updated regularly. See also CRS Report RS21968, Iraq: Politics, Elections, and
Benchmarks, by Kenneth Katzman, Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks, by Kenneth
Katzman; CRS CRS Report RL31833, Iraq: Reconstruction Assistance, by Curt Tarnoff.
Policy in the 1990s Emphasized Containment................................................................................3
The Clinton Administration, the Iraq Liberation Act, and Major Anti-Saddam
Factions .................................................................................................................................. 3
Post-September 11, 2001: Regime Change and War......................................................................6
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).................................................................................................7
Congressional and Security Council Action.......................................................................8
Post-Saddam Transition and Governance........................................................................................9
Occupation Period/Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)................................................9
Transitional Administrative Law (TAL)...........................................................................10
Sovereignty Handover/Interim (Allawi) Government......................................................10
Elections in 2005 ..............................................................................................................11
Coalition Military Mandate/SOFA/U.N. Role in Sovereign Iraq............................................12
U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework and SOFA Agreements....................................................13
U.N. Involvement in Governance Issues..........................................................................14
Political Reconciliation, 2009 Elections, and “Benchmarks”.................................................15
January 31, 2009 Provincial Elections and Context.........................................................15
Iraqi Pledges and Status of Accomplishment....................................................................18
Regional and International Diplomatic Efforts to Promote Iraq Stability.........................21
Human Rights and Rule of Law........................................................................................22
Economic Reconstruction and U.S. Assistance.......................................................................23
Lifting U.S. Sanctions.......................................................................................................25
Debt Relief/WTO Membership/IMF................................................................................26
Security Challenges and Responses..............................................................................................27
Sunni Arab-Led Insurgency and Al Qaeda in Iraq..................................................................27
“Sons of Iraq” Fighters.....................................................................................................28
Current Status of the Insurgency.......................................................................................29
Sectarian Violence and Shiite Militias/Civil War....................................................................31
Shiite-on-Shiite Violence/March 2008 Basra Battles.......................................................32
Iraq’s Northern Border............................................................................................................34
U.S. “Troop Surge” Effects and Draw Down Plans................................................................34
“Troop Surge”/Baghdad Security Plan/“Fardh Qanoon”..................................................35
2009 Draw down Plans.....................................................................................................37
Building Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).......................................................................................37
Coalition-Building and Maintenance......................................................................................41
Iraq Study Group Report, Legislative Proposals, and Options for the Obama
Admi nistra ti on ............................................................................................................................ 43
Iraq Study Group Report.........................................................................................................43
Further Options: Altering Troop Levels or Mission................................................................45
Further Troop Increase......................................................................................................45
Immediate and Complete Withdrawal...............................................................................45
Troop Mission Change......................................................................................................47
Planning for Withdrawal...................................................................................................47
Requiring More Time Between Deployments..................................................................47
Stepped Up International and Regional Diplomacy................................................................48
Reorganizing the Political Structure, and “Federalism”..........................................................48
Reorganize the Existing Power Structure.........................................................................48
Support the Dominant Factions........................................................................................49
“Coup” or “Strongman” Option........................................................................................51
Figure 1. Map of Iraq....................................................................................................................58
Table 1. Iraq Basic Facts.................................................................................................................2
Table 2. Selected Key Indicators...................................................................................................25
Table 3. Key Security/Violence Indicators....................................................................................30
Table 4. ISF Funding.....................................................................................................................39
Table 5. Ministry of Defense Forces.............................................................................................40
Table 6. Ministry of Interior Forces...............................................................................................41
Table 7. Major Factions in Iraq.....................................................................................................52
Table 8. Iraq’s Government...........................................................................................................55
Table 9. U.S. Aid (ESF) to Iraq’s Saddam-Era Opposition...........................................................56
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................59
raq has not previously had experience with a democratic form of government, although
parliamentary elections were held during the period of British rule under a League of Nations
mandate (from 1920 until Iraq’s independence in 1932), and the monarchy of the Sunni I
Muslim Hashemite dynasty (1921-1958). The territory that is now Iraq was formed from three
provinces of the Ottoman empire after British forces defeated the Ottomans in World War I and
took control of the territory in 1918. Britain had tried to take Iraq from the Ottomans earlier in
World War I but were defeated at Al Kut in 1916. Britain’s presence in Iraq, which relied on
Sunni Muslim Iraqis (as did the Ottoman administration), ran into repeated resistance, facing a
major Shiite-led revolt in 1920 and a major anti-British uprising in 1941, during World War II.
Iraq’s first Hashemite king was Faysal bin Hussein, son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca who, advised
by British officer T.E Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), led the Arab revolt against the Ottoman
Empire during World War I. Faysal ruled Iraq as King Faysal I and was succeeded by his son,
Ghazi, who was killed in a car accident in 1939. Ghazi was succeeded by his young son, Faysal
A major figure under the British mandate and the monarchy was Nuri As-Said, a pro-British, pro-
Hashemite Sunni Muslim who served as prime minister 14 times during 1930-1958. Faysal II,
with the help of As-Sa’id, ruled until the military coup of Abd al-Karim al-Qasim on July 14,
1958. Qasim was ousted in February 1963 by a Baath Party-military alliance. Since that same
year, the Baath Party has ruled in Syria, although there was rivalry between the Syrian and Iraqi
Baath regimes during Saddam’s rule. The Baath Party was founded in the 1940s by Lebanese
Christian philosopher Michel Aflaq as a socialist, pan-Arab movement, the aim of which was to
reduce religious and sectarian schisms among Arabs.
One of the Baath Party’s allies in the February 1963 coup was Abd al-Salam al-Arif. In
November 1963, Arif purged the Baath, including Prime Minister (and military officer) Ahmad
Hasan al-Bakr, and instituted direct military rule. Arif was killed in a helicopter crash in 1966 and
was replaced by his elder brother, Abd al-Rahim al-Arif. Following the Baath seizure of power in
1968, Bakr returned to government as President of Iraq and Saddam Hussein, a civilian, became
the regime’s number two—Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. In that
position, Saddam developed overlapping security services to monitor loyalty among the
population and within Iraq’s institutions, including the military. On July 17, 1979, the aging al-
Bakr resigned at Saddam’s urging, and Saddam became President of Iraq. Under Saddam, secular
Shiites held high party positions, but Sunnis, mostly from Saddam’s home town of Tikrit,
dominated the highest positions. Saddam’s regime repressed Iraq’s Shiites after the February
1979 Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran partly because Iraq feared that Iraqi Shiite Islamist
movements, emboldened by Iran, would try to establish an Iranian-style Islamic republic of Iraq.
Table 1. Iraq Basic Facts
Population 27.5 million
Demographics Shiite Arab - 60%; Kurd - 19% Sunni Arab - 14%; Christian and others - 6; Sunni
Turkomen - 1%. Christians are: 600,000 - 1 million total (incl. Chaldean, Assyrian,
Syriac, Armenian, and Protestant). Others are: Yazidis (600,000); Shabak (200,000);
Area Slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
GDP $100 billion (purchasing power parity, 2007)
GDP per capita $3,600 per year (2007)
Real GDP Growth Estimated 8% in 2008; was 0.4% in 2007
2008 Iraqi Government First passed by Iraqi parliament Feb. 13, 2008, based on anticipated total $38 billion
Budget revenue, including $31 billion from oil and $6.7 billion from other sources. Included:
(2009 budget of $67 billion $42 billion total expenses. Supplemental budget adopted in August based on expected $70 billion oil revenue for 2008, added $22 billion in spending. GAO report of August
not yet adopted by Iraqi 2008 says that, even with supplemental budget, 2008 surplus might still range from $16
parliament. Forecasts $15 billion-$28 billion, if past spending patterns hold. However, 2008 budget was cut $13
billion deficit.) billion in December 2008 due to falling oil prices. Prior to the cut, 2008 budget
$21 billion for capital investment ($1.5 billion spent through May 2008)
$9 billion for Iraqi Security Forces costs ($11 billion planned for 2009)
$3.7 billion in direct grants to the Arab provinces (of which $1.6 billion spent through
$5.5 billion to the Kurdish region (KRG gov’t and three KRG provinces)
$300 million for use by U.S. military in small reconstruction projects
$163 million for “Sons of Iraq”
$510 million for small business loans
$196 million for joint training and reintegration programs for former insurgents
$350 million for reconstruction in battle zones including Mosul, Basra, and Sadr City
and Shula districts in Baghdad $190 million to assist displaced persons
(In 2007, Iraq spent 28% of its $12 billion capital budget, and the provincial
governments spent 40% of theirs.)
Reserves of Foreign About $30 billion total: About $10 billion in “Development Fund for Iraq” (DFI, held in
Currency and Gold N.Y. Federal Reserve); $5.7 billion in Central Bank; and $13.8 billion in Iraqi
commercial banks (Rafidain and Rasheed). About $5.5 billion to be used to buy 40 new
Boeing civilian passenger aircraft. Requirement to deposit oil revenues in DFI, and
international auditing requirement, extended until December 31, 2009 by U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1859 (Dec. 22, 2008). The Resolution also extends Iraqi
assets protections from lawsuits/attachment.
Unemployment 17.6% official rate, according to Central Statistics Office of Iraq; as high as 50% in some
Inflation Rate 12.9% core rate in 2008; about the same as 2007 levels; 32% in 2006
U.S. Oil Imports About 700,000 barrels per day (other oil - related capabilities appear in a table later in
Food Rations Used by 60% of the population; goods imported by government from national funds.
Sources: CIA The World Factbook; State Department International Religions Freedom Report, September 2008;
DOD Measuring Stability Report, December 2008; various press and other documents.
Prior to the January 16, 1991, launch of Operation Desert Storm to reverse Iraq’s August 1990
invasion of Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam.
That Administration decided not to try to do so militarily because (1) the United Nations had
approved only liberating Kuwait; (2) Arab states in the coalition opposed an advance to Baghdad; 1
and (3) the Administration feared becoming embroiled in a potentially high-casualty occupation.
Within days of the war’s end (February 28, 1991), Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in
northern Iraq, emboldened by the regime’s defeat and the hope of U.S. support, rebelled. The
Shiite revolt nearly reached Baghdad, but the mostly Sunni Muslim Republican Guard forces
were pulled back into Iraq before engaging U.S. forces and were intact to suppress the rebellion.
Many Iraqi Shiites blamed the United States for not intervening on their behalf. Iraq’s Kurds,
benefitting from a U.S.-led “no fly zone” set up in April 1991, drove Iraqi troops out of much of
northern Iraq and remained autonomous thereafter.
The thrust of subsequent U.S. policy was containment through U.N. Security Council-authorized
weapons inspections, an international economic embargo, and U.S.-led enforcement of no fly 2
zones over both northern and southern Iraq. President George H.W. Bush reportedly supported
efforts to promote a military coup as a way of producing a favorable government without
fragmenting Iraq. After a reported July 1992 coup failed, he shifted to supporting (with funds) the 3
Kurdish, Shiite, and other oppositionists that were coalescing into a broad movement.
During the Clinton Administration, the United States built ties to and progressively increased
support for several Shiite and Kurdish factions, all of which have provided leaders in post-
Saddam politics but also field militias locked in sectarian violence against Iraq’s Sunnis who
supported Saddam’s regime. (See Table 7 on Iraq’s various factions.) During 1997-1998, Iraq’s
obstructions of U.N. weapons of mass destruction (WMD) inspections led to growing
congressional calls to overthrow Saddam, starting with a FY1998 appropriation (P.L. 105-174).
The sentiment was expressed in the “Iraq Liberation Act” (ILA, P.L. 105-338, October 31, 1998).
Signed by President Clinton despite doubts about opposition capabilities, it was viewed as an
expression of congressional support for the concept of promoting an Iraqi insurgency with U.S.
air power. That law, which states that it should be the policy of the United States to “support
efforts” to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein, is sometimes cited as indicator of a
bipartisan consensus to topple Saddam’s regime. It gave the President authority to provide up to
$97 million worth of defense articles and services, as well as $2 million in broadcasting funds, to
opposition groups designated by the Administration. In mid-November 1998, President Clinton
publicly articulated that regime change was a component of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Section 8 of
1 Bush, George H.W., and Brent Scowcroft. A World Transformed. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1998.
2 Discussed further in CRS Report RL32379, Iraq: Former Regime Weapons Programs, Human Rights Violations, and
U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman.
3 Congress more than doubled the budget for covert support to the opposition groups to about $40 million for FY1993,
from previous levels of $15 million-$20 million. Sciolino, Elaine. “Greater U.S. Effort Backed To Oust Iraqi.” New
York Times, June 2, 1992.
the ILA stated that the act should not be construed as authorizing the use of U.S. military force to
achieve regime change. The ILA did not specifically terminate after Saddam Hussein was
removed from power; Section 7 provided for post-Saddam “transition assistance” to groups with
The signing of the ILA coincided with new Iraqi obstructions of U.N. weapons inspections. On
December 15, 1998, U.N. inspectors were withdrawn, and a three-day U.S. and British bombing
campaign against suspected Iraqi WMD facilities followed (Operation Desert Fox, December 16-
19, 1998). On February 5, 1999, President Clinton designated seven groups eligible to receive
U.S. military assistance under the ILA (P.D. 99-13): the Iraqi National Congress (INC); Iraq
National Accord (INA); the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI); the
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP); the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK); the Islamic 4
Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK); and the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy (MCM).
In May 1999, the Clinton Administration provided $5 million worth of training and “non-lethal”
equipment under the ILA to about 150 oppositionists in Defense Department-run training
(Hurlburt Air Base) on administering a post-Saddam Iraq. The Administration judged the
opposition insufficiently capable to merit combat training or weapons; the trainees did not deploy
in Operation Iraqi Freedom or into the Free Iraqi Forces that deployed to Iraq. The following is
discussion of the major groups that worked against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
• Secular Groups: Iraqi National Congress (INC) and Iraq National Accord
(INA). In 1992, the two main Kurdish parties and several Shiite Islamist groups
coalesced into the “Iraqi National Congress (INC)” on a platform of human
rights, democracy, pluralism, and “federalism” (Kurdish autonomy). However,
many observers doubted its commitment to democracy, because most of its
groups had authoritarian leaderships. The INC’s Executive Committee selected
Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite Muslim, to run the INC on a daily basis. (A table
on U.S. appropriations for the Iraqi opposition, including the INC, is an 5
• The Iraq National Accord (INA), founded after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait,
was supported initially by Saudi Arabia but reportedly later earned the patronage 6
of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It is led by Dr. Iyad al-Allawi. The
INA enjoyed Clinton Administration support in 1996 after squabbling among 7
INC groups reduced the INC’s perceived viability, but Iraq’s intelligence
services arrested or executed over 100 INA activists in June 1996. In August
1996, Baghdad launched a military incursion into northern Iraq, at the invitation
of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), to help it capture Irbil from the rival
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In the process, Baghdad routed both INC
and INA agents from the north.
4 Because of its role in the eventual formation of the radical Ansar al-Islam group, the IMIK did not receive U.S. funds
after 2001, although it was not formally de-listed.
5 The Jordanian government subsequently repaid depositors a total of $400 million.
6 Brinkley, Joel. “Ex-CIA Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90’s Attacks,” New York Times, June 9, 2004.
7 An account of this shift in U.S. strategy is essayed in Hoagland, Jim. “How CIA’s Secret War On Saddam
Collapsed,” Washington Post, June 26, 1997.
• The Kurds,8 who are mostly Sunni Muslims but are not Arabs, are probably the
most pro-U.S. of all major groups. Historically fearful of persecution by the Arab
majority, the Kurds seek to incorporate all areas of northern Iraq where Kurds are
are prevalent into their three-province “region,” which is run by a Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG). Both major Kurdish factions—the PUK led by
Jalal Talabani, and the KDP led by Masud Barzani—are participating in Iraqi
politics. Together, the KDP and PUK may have as many as 100,000 peshmerga
(militia fighters), most of which are providing security in the KRG region and
other cities where Kurds live (but not Baghdad); some are in the Iraqi Security
Forces (ISF) and serve throughout Iraq. Peshmerga have sometimes fought each
other; in May 1994, the KDP and the PUK clashed with each other over territory,
customs revenues, and control over the Kurdish regional government in Irbil.
• Shiite Islamists: Ayatollah Sistani, ISCI, Da’wa, and Sadr Factions. Shiite
Islamist organizations have become dominant in post-Saddam politics; Shiites
constitute about 60% of the population but were under-represented and suffered
significant repression under Saddam’s regime. Several of these factions
cooperated with the Saddam-era U.S. regime change efforts, but others did not.
The undisputed Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is the
“marja-e-taqlid” (source of emulation) and the most senior of the four Shiite
clerics that lead the Najaf-based “Hawza al-Ilmiyah” (a grouping of Shiite 9
seminaries). He was in Iraq during Saddam’s rule but he adopted a low profile
and had no known contact with the United States. His mentor, Ayatollah Abol
Qasem Musavi-Khoi, was head of the Hawza until his death in 1992. Like Khoi,
Sistani is a “quietist”—generally opposing a direct political role for clerics—but 10
he has influenced major political issues in the post-Saddam era.
• Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and the Da’wa Party. These two
groups are mainstream Shiite Islamist groups and generally pro-Iranian, ISCI the
more so. The late founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini’s was in exile in Najaf, Iraq during 1964-1978, hosted there by Grand
Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, then head of the Hawza. Ayatollah Hakim’s sons,
including current ISCI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, were members of the
Da’wa (Islamic Call) Party when they were driven into exile by Saddam’s
crackdown in 1980, who accused the Da’wa of leading the effort to overthrow
him. The crackdown coincided with the start of the war with Iran in September
1980. U nder Iranian patronage, the Hakim sons broke with Da’wa and founded
the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) in 1982.
Although it was a member of the INC in the early 1990s, SCIRI refused to accept
U.S. funds, although it had contacts with U.S. officials. The group changed its
name to ISCI in May 2007. It is considered the best organized party within the
“United Iraqi Alliance” (UIA) of Shiite political groupings, with a “Badr
Brigade” militia, numerous political offices, and a TV station. The Da’wa Party
did not directly join the U.S.-led effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein during the
8 For an extended discussion, see CRS Report RS22079, The Kurds in Post-Saddam Iraq, by Kenneth Katzman.
9 The three other senior Hawza clerics are Ayatollah Mohammad Sa’id al-Hakim (uncle of the leader of the Supreme
Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim); Ayatollah Mohammad Isaac Fayadh, who is of
Afghan origin; and Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi, of Pakistani origin.
10 For information on Sistani’s views, see his website at http://www.sistani.org.
1990s. It is the party of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who succeeded another
Da’wa leader, Ibrahim al-Jafari, who served as transitional Prime Minister during
April 2005-April 2006. See text box on Maliki later in this paper.
• The faction of an “insurgent” Shiite Islamist leader, Moqtada Al Sadr, is
emerging as a major factor in Iraqi politics. This faction was underground in Iraq
during Saddam’s rule, led by Moqtada’s father, Ayatollah Mohammad Sadiq Al
Sadr, who was killed by the regime in 1999. See text box later in this paper.
Several senior Bush Administration officials had long been advocates of a regime change policy
toward Iraq, but the difficulty of that strategy led the Bush Administration initially to continue its 11
predecessor’s containment policy. Some believe the September 11 attacks provided
Administration officials justification to act on longstanding plans to confront Iraq militarily.
During its first year, the Administration tried to prevent an asserted erosion of containment of Iraq
by achieving U.N. Security Council adoption (Resolution 1409, May 14, 2002) of a “smart
sanctions” plan. The plan relaxed U.N.-imposed restrictions on exports to Iraq of purely civilian 12
equipment in exchange for renewed international commitment to enforce the U.N. ban on
exports to Iraq of militarily useful goods.
Bush Administration policy on Iraq clearly became an active regime change effort after the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In President Bush’s State of the Union message on January
29, 2002, given as major combat in the U.S.-led war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
was winding down, he characterized Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” (with Iran and North Korea).
Some U.S. officials, particularly then-deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, asserted that the
United States needed to respond to the September 11, 2001 attacks by “ending states,” such as
Iraq, that support terrorist groups. Vice President Cheney visited the Middle East in March 2002
reportedly to consult regional countries about the possibility of confronting Iraq militarily,
although the Arab leaders opposed war with Iraq and urged greater U.S. attention to the Arab-
Some accounts, including the books Plan of Attack and State of Denial by Bob Woodward
(published in April 2004 and September 2006, respectively), say that then Secretary of State
Powell, Central Intelligence Agency experts, and others were concerned about the potential
consequences of an invasion of Iraq, particularly the difficulties of building a democracy after
major hostilities ended. Other accounts include the “Downing Street Memo” – a paper by British
intelligence officials, based on conversations with U.S. officials, saying that by mid-2002 the
Administration was seeking information to justify a firm decision to go to war against Iraq.
President Bush and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair deny this. (On December 20, 2001,
the House passed H.J.Res. 75, by a vote of 392-12, calling Iraq’s refusal to readmit U.N. weapons
inspectors a “mounting threat.”)
11 One account of Bush Administration internal debates on the strategy is found in Hersh, Seymour. “The Debate
Within,” The New Yorker, March 11, 2002.
12 For more information on this program, see CRS Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and
Investigations, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Kenneth Katzman.
The primary theme in the Bush Administration’s public case for the need to confront Iraq was that
Iraq posted a “grave and gathering” threat that should be blunted before the threat became urgent.
The basis of that assertion in U.S. intelligence remains under debate.
• WMD Threat Perception. Senior U.S. officials, including President Bush,
particularly in an October 2002 speech in Cincinnati, asserted the following
about Iraq’s WMD: (1) that Iraq had worked to rebuild its WMD programs in the
nearly four years since U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq and had failed to
comply with 16 U.N. previous resolutions that demanded complete elimination of
all of Iraq’s WMD programs; (2) that Iraq had used chemical weapons against its
own people (the Kurds) and against Iraq’s neighbors (Iran), implying that Iraq
would not necessarily be deterred from using WMD against the United States;
and (3) that Iraq could transfer its WMD to terrorists, particularly Al Qaeda, for
use in potentially catastrophic attacks in the United States. Critics noted that,
under the U.S. threat of retaliation, Iraq did not use WMD against U.S. troops in
the 1991 Gulf war. A “comprehensive” September 2004 report of the Iraq Survey 13
Group, known as the “Duelfer report,” found no WMD stockpiles or production
but said that there was evidence that the regime retained the intention to
reconstitute WMD programs in the future. The formal U.S.-led WMD search 14
ended December 2004, although U.S. forces have found some chemical 15
weapons left from the Iran-Iraq war. UNMOVIC’s work was formally
terminated by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1762 (June 29, 2007).
• Links to Al Qaeda. Iraq was designated a state sponsor of terrorism during 1979-
1982 and was again so designated after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Although
they did not assert that Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in the
September 11 attacks, senior U.S. officials asserted that Saddam’s regime was
linked to Al Qaeda, in part because of the presence of pro-Al Qaeda militant
leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in northern Iraq. Although this issue is still
debated, the report of the 9/11 Commission found no evidence of a “collaborative 16
operational linkage” between Iraq and Al Qaeda. A March 2008 study by the
Institute for Defense Analyses for the Joint Forces Command, based on 600,000
documents found in post-Saddam Iraq, found no direct ties between Al Qaeda
and Saddam’s regime. (See CRS Report RL32217, Al Qaeda in Iraq: Assessment
and Outside Links, by Kenneth Katzman.)
As major combat in Afghanistan wound down in mid-2002, the Administration began ordering a
force to Kuwait (the only state that agreed to host a major invasion force) that, by early 2003,
gave the President an option to invade Iraq. In concert, the Administration tried to build up and
broaden the Iraqi opposition and, according to the Washington Post (June 16, 2002), authorized
stepped up covert activities by the CIA and special operations forces against Saddam Hussein. In
13 Duelfer report text is at http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/iraq/cia93004wmdrpt.html.
14 For analysis of the former regime’s WMD and other abuses, see CRS Report RL32379, Iraq: Former Regime
Weapons Programs, Human Rights Violations, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman.
15 Pincus, Walter. “Munitions Found in Iraq Renew Debate.” Washington Post, July 1, 2006.
16 9/11 Commission Report, p. 66.
August 2002, the State and Defense Departments jointly invited six major opposition groups to
Washington, D.C., and the Administration expanded ties to other groups composed primarily of 17
ex-military officers. The Administration blocked a move by the main factions to declare a
provisional government before entering Iraq, believing that doing so would prevent the
emergence of secular groups.
In an effort to obtain U.N. backing for confronting Iraq—support that then Secretary of State
Powell reportedly argued was needed—President Bush addressed the United Nations General
Assembly (September 12, 2002), saying that the U.N. Security Council should enforce its 16
existing WMD-related resolutions on Iraq. The Administration then gave Iraq a “final
opportunity” to comply with all applicable Council resolutions by supporting Security Council
Resolution 1441 (November 8, 2002), which gave the U.N. inspection body UNMOVIC (U.N.
Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission) new powers of inspection. Iraq reluctantly
accepted it and WMD inspections resumed November 27, 2002. In January and February 2003,
UNMOVIC Director Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director
Mohammad al-Baradei briefed the Security Council on the inspections, saying that Iraq failed to
actively cooperate to satisfy outstanding questions, but that it had not denied access to sites and
might not have any WMD.
During this period, the 107th Congress debated the costs and risks of an invasion. It adopted
H.J.Res. 114, authorizing the President to use military force to “defend the national security of the
United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and “to enforce all relevant U.N.
Security Council resolutions against Iraq.” It passed the House October 11, 2002 (296-133), and
the Senate the following day (77-23). It was signed October 16, 2002 (P.L. 107-243).
No U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing force was adopted. Countries opposed to war,
including France, Russia, China, and Germany, said the latest WMD inspections showed that Iraq
could be disarmed peacefully or contained indefinitely. On March 16, 2003, a summit meeting of
Britain, Spain, Bulgaria, and the United States, held in the Azores, rejected that view and said all
diplomatic options had failed. The following day, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his
sons, Uday and Qusay, an ultimatum to leave Iraq within 48 hours to avoid war. They refused and
OIF began on March 19, 2003.
In the war, Iraq’s conventional military forces were overwhelmed by the approximately 380,000-18
person U.S. and British-led 30-country “coalition of the willing” force, a substantial proportion
of which were in supporting roles. Of the invasion force, Britain contributed 45,000, and U.S.
troops constituted the bulk of the remaining 335,000 forces. Some Iraqi units and irregulars
(“Saddam’s Fedayeen”) put up stiff resistance, using unconventional tactics. Some evaluations
(for example, “Cobra Two,” by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, published in 2006) suggest
the U.S. military should have focused more on combating the irregulars and less so on armored
17The Administration also began training about 5,000 oppositionists to assist U.S. forces, although reportedly only
about 70 completed training at Taszar air base in Hungary, eventually serving as translators during the war. Deyoung,
Karen, and Daniel Williams, “Training of Iraqi Exiles Authorized,” Washington Post, October 19, 2002.
18 Many of the thirty countries listed in the coalition did not contribute forces to the combat. A subsequent State
Department list released on March 27, 2003 listed 49 countries in the coalition of the willing. See Washington Post,
March 27, 2003, p. A19.
forces. No WMD was used by Iraq, although it did fire some ballistic missiles into Kuwait; it is
not clear whether those missiles were of U.N.-prohibited ranges (greater than 150 km). The
regime vacated Baghdad on April 9, 2003, although Saddam Hussein appeared with supporters
that day in Baghdad’s Sunni Adhamiya district, near the major Sunni Umm al-Qura mosque.
(Saddam was captured in December 2003, and on November 5, 2006, was convicted for “willful
killing” of Shiite civilians in Dujail in 1982. He was hanged on December 30, 2006.)
According to statements by the Bush Administration, U.S. goals are for a unified, democratic, and
federal Iraq that can sustain, govern, and defend itself and is an ally in the global war on
terrorism. The following sections discuss Iraq’s progress toward those goals.
The formal political transition from the Saddam regime to representative government is largely
completed, but tensions remain among the newly dominant Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs that have
been displaced from their former perch in Iraqi politics, and the Kurds who fear renewed
oppression by Iraq’s Arabs.
After the fall of the regime, the United States set up an occupation structure, reportedly based on
concerns that immediate sovereignty would favor major factions and not produce democracy. The
Administration initially tasked Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (ret.) to direct reconstruction with a staff of
U.S. government personnel to administer Iraq’s ministries; they deployed in April 2003. He
headed the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), under the
Department of Defense (DOD), created by a January 20, 2003, Executive Order. The
Administration largely discarded the State Department’s “Future of Iraq Project,” that spent the 19
year before the war planning for the administration of Iraq after the fall of Saddam. Garner and
aides began trying to establish a representative successor regime by organizing a meeting in
Nassiriyah (April 15, 2003) of about 100 Iraqis of varying views and ethnicities. A subsequent
meeting of over 250 notables, held in Baghdad April 26, 2003, agreed to hold a broader meeting
one month later to name an interim administration.
In May 2003, President Bush, reportedly seeking strong leadership in Iraq, named Ambassador L.
Paul Bremer to replace Garner by heading a “Coalition Provisional Authority” (CPA). Bremer
discontinued Garner’s transition process and instead appointed (July 13, 2003) a non-sovereign
Iraqi advisory body: the 25-member “Iraq Governing Council” (IGC). In September 2003, the
IGC selected a 25-member “cabinet” to run the ministries, with roughly the same factional and
ethnic balance of the IGC (a slight majority of Shiite Muslims). Although there were some Sunni
figures in the CPA-led administration, many Sunnis resented the new power structure as
overturning their prior dominance. Adding to that resentment were some of the CPA’s
19 Information on the project, including summaries of the findings of its 17 working groups, can be found at
http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/archive/dutyiraq/. The project cost $5 million and had 15 working groups on
controversial decisions, including “de-Baathification”—a purge from government of about
30,000 Iraqis at four top ranks of the Baath Party (CPA Order 1) and not to recall members of the
armed forces to service (CPA Order 2). Bremer and others maintain that recalling the former
regime armed forces would have caused mistrust among Shiites and Kurds about the prospects for
democracy in post-Saddam Iraq.
The Bush Administration initially made the end of U.S. occupation contingent on the completion
of a new constitution and the holding of national elections for a new government, tasks expected
to be completed by late 2005. However, Ayatollah Sistani and others agitated for early Iraqi
sovereignty, contributing to the November 2003 U.S. announcement that sovereignty would be
returned to Iraq by June 30, 2004, and national elections were to be held by the end of 2005. That
decision was incorporated into an interim constitution — the Transitional Administrative Law 20
(TAL), drafted by the major factions and signed on March 8, 2004. The TAL provided a
roadmap for political transition, including (1) elections by January 31, 2005, for a 275-seat
transitional National Assembly; (2) drafting of a permanent constitution by August 15, 2005, and
put to a national referendum by October 15, 2005; and (3) national elections for a full-term
government, by December 15, 2005. Any three provinces could veto the constitution by a two-
thirds majority, which would trigger a redrafting and re-vote by October 15, 2006. The Kurds
maintained their autonomy and militia.
The TAL did not directly address how a sovereign government would be formed. Sistani’s
opposition scuttled a U.S. plan to select a national assembly through nationwide “caucuses,” 21
causing the United States to tap U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to select a government, which
began work on June 1, 2004. The handover ceremony occurred on June 28, 2004. Dominated by
the major factions, this government had a president (Sunni tribal figure Ghazi al-Yawar), and
Prime Minister (Iyad al-Allawi, see above) with executive power, heading a cabinet of 26
ministers. Six ministers were women, and the ethnicity mix was roughly the same as in the IGC.
The defense and interior ministers were Sunnis.
As of the handover, the state of occupation ceased, and a U.S. Ambassador (John Negroponte)
established U.S.-Iraq diplomatic relations for the first time since January 1991. A U.S. embassy 22
formally opened on June 30, 2004; it is staffed with about 1,100 U.S. personnel. The
Ambassador is Ryan Crocker, who took over from Zalmay Khalilzad (July 2005 - April 2007). In
August 2008, the Embassy formally opened. It was built by First Kuwaiti General Trading and 23
Construction Co., and has 21 buildings on 104 acres. It is now serving as the U.S. embassy
following the vacating of the Saddam-era palace that served that purpose. In conjunction with the
20 The text of the TAL can be obtained from the CPA website at http://cpa-iraq.org/government/TAL.html.
21 Chandrasekaran, Rajiv. “Envoy Urges U.N.-Chosen Iraqi Government,” Washington Post, April 15, 2004.
22 See CRS Report RS21867, U.S. Embassy in Iraq, by Susan B. Epstein.
23 An FY2005 supplemental appropriations, P.L. 109-13, provided $592 million (of $658 million requested) to
construct a new embassy in Baghdad; an FY2006 supplemental appropriation (P.L. 109-234) provided $1.327 billion
for U.S. embassy operations and security.
• Reconstruction management and advising of Iraq’s ministries were taken over by
a State Department component called the “Iraq Reconstruction and Management
Office” (IRMO). With the expiration of that unit’s authority in April 2007, it was
renamed the “Iraq Transition Assistance Office” (ITAO), headed since June 2007
by Mark Tokola. ITAO’s focus is promoting efficiency in Iraq’s ministries and
Iraq’s management of the projects built with U.S. reconstruction funds. The
authority has also expired for a separate DOD “Project Contracting Office
(PCO),” under the Persian Gulf Division of the Army Corps of Engineers. It is in
the process of closing out and training Iraqis to sustain its projects, which were
mainly large infrastructure such as roads, power plants, and school renovations.
After the handover of sovereignty, the focus was on three votes held in 2005 that established the
structure of Iraqi governance that continues today:
• Transition Government. On January 30, 2005, elections were held for a
transitional National Assembly, 18 provincial councils (four-year term), and the
Kurdish regional assembly. The Sunni Arabs, still resentful of the U.S. invasion,
mostly boycotted, and no major “Sunni slates” were offered, enabling the Shiite
United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) to win a slim majority (140 of the 275 seats) and to
ally with the Kurds (75 seats) to dominate the national government.
• Constitutional Referendum. Subsequently, a constitution drafted by a committee
appointed by the elected government was approved on October 15, 2005. Sunni
opponents achieved a two-thirds “no” vote in two provinces, but not in the three
needed to defeat the constitution. The crux of Sunni opposition was the provision
for a weak central government (“federalism”): it allows groups of provinces to
band together to form autonomous “regions” with their own regional
governments, internal security forces, and a large role in controlling revenues
from any new energy discoveries. Sunnis oppose this concept because their
region has thus far lacked significant proven oil reserves and they depend on the
central government for revenues. The constitution also contained an article (137)
that promised a special constitutional amendment process, within a set six-month
deadline, intended to mollify Sunnis.
• Full Term Government. In the December 15, 2005 election for a full four year
term government, some Sunnis, seeking to strengthen their position to amend the
constitution, fielded electoral slates—the “Consensus Front” and the National
Dialogue Front. With the UIA alone well short of the two-thirds majority needed
to unilaterally form a government, Sunnis, the Sadr faction, secular groupings,
and the Kurds demanded Jafari be replaced and accepted Nuri al-Maliki as Prime
Minister (April 22, 2006). Maliki won approval of a cabinet on May 20, 2006
(see table on the cabinet composition).
24 CRS Report RS21968, Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks, by Kenneth Katzman. This report also contains a
table with Iraq’s performance on ennumerated “benchmarks.”
Even though the invasion of Iraq was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council, the
Administration asserts that it has consistently sought and obtained U.N. and partner country
involvement in Iraq efforts. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483 (May 22, 2003) recognized
the CPA as a legal occupation authority. To satisfy the requirements of several nations for U.N.
backing of a coalition force presence, the United States achieved adoption of Resolution 1511
(October 16, 2003), authorizing a “multinational force under unified [meaning U.S.] command.”
Resolution 1546 (June 8, 2004) took U.N. involvement further by endorsing the U.S. handover of
sovereignty, reaffirming the responsibilities of the interim government, spelling out the duration
and legal status of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, and authorizing a coalition force to protect U.N.
personnel and facilities. It also:
• “Authorize[d]” the U.S.-led coalition to contribute to maintaining security in
Iraq, a provision widely interpreted as giving the coalition responsibility for
security. Iraqi forces are “a principal partner” in—not commanded by—the U.S.-
led coalition, as spelled out in an annexed exchange of letters between the United
States and Iraq. The coalition retained the ability to take and hold prisoners.
• Coalition/U.S. Mandate. Resolution 1546 stipulated that the coalition’s mandate
would be reviewed “at the request of the government of Iraq or twelve months
from the date of this resolution” (or June 8, 2005); that the mandate would expire
when a permanent government is sworn in at the end of 2005; and that the
mandate would be terminated “if the Iraqi government so requests.” Resolution
1637 (November 11, 2005), Resolution 1723 (November 28, 2006), and
Resolution 1790 (December 18, 2007) each extended these provisions for an
additional year, “unless earlier “requested by the Iraqi government,” and required
interim reviews of the mandate on June 15 of the years of expiration,
respectively. The December 2007 extension came despite a vote in Iraq’s
parliament (with 144 votes in the 275 seat body) to approve a “non-binding”
motion, led by the Sadr faction, to require the Iraqi government to seek
parliamentary approval before asking for a mandate extension. The mandate has
now expired as of December 31, 2008 with implementation of the U.S.-Iraq
agreements discussed below.
• Oil Revenues. Resolution 1546 gave Iraq gained control over its oil revenues (the 25
CPA had handled the DFI during the occupation period) and the Development
Fund for Iraq (DFI), subject to monitoring (until at least June 2005) by the U.N.-
mandated International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB). Resolution
1859 (December 22, 2008) renewed for one year the provision that Iraq’s oil
revenues will be deposited in the DFI and that the DFI will be audited by the
IAMB. The Resolution also continued the U.N. protection for Iraqi assets from
attachments and lawsuits. Resolution 1546 gave the Iraqi government
responsibility for closing out the U.N.-run “oil-for-food program” under which
all oil revenues were handled by a U.N. escrow account; Security Council
Resolution 1483 had ended the “oil for food program” as of November 21, 2003.
25 For information on that program, see CRS Report RL30472, Iraq: Oil-For-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and
Investigations, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Kenneth Katzman.
During 2007, Iraqi leaders began agitating to end the Chapter 7 U.N. status of Iraq, viewing that
as a legacy of Saddam’s aggression. On November 26, 2007, President Bush and Prime Minister
Maliki signed a “Declaration of Principles” (by video conference) under which the U.N. mandate
would be renewed for only one more year (until December 31, 2008) and that, by July 2008, Iraq
and the U.S. would complete a bilateral “strategic framework agreement and related Status of
Forces (SOFA) agreement that would replace the Security Council mandate. These agreements
were needed to keep U.S. forces operating in Iraq beyond the expiry of the U.N. mandate. The
“strategic framework agreement” was to outline the future political and economic relationship
between the two countries. (Section 1314 of P.L. 110-28, the FY2007 supplemental, says that the 26
President shall redeploy U.S. forces if asked to officially by Iraq’s government.)
A formal SOFA and related strategic framework agreement were negotiated, and approved by
Iraq’s parliament on November 27, 2008, by a vote of 149-35 (91 deputies not voting), considered
sufficient but not the overwhelming consensus urged by Ayatollah Sistani. However, the
parliament passed that day a related law requiring a national referendum on the pact by July 31,
The ratified draft is in effect as of January 1, 2009, following signature by Iraq’s presidency
council on December 11, 2008. The SOFA provides significant immunities from Iraqi law for
U.S. troops (while performing missions), and for civilian employees of U.S. forces, but not for 27
security contractors. It also delineates that U.S. forces must coordinate operations with a joint
U.S.-Iraq military committee. One difference was resolved in July 2008 after Maliki, possibly
bowing to Sadrist and other opposition, said the agreement should include a timetable for a U.S.
withdrawal. The Bush Administration had repeatedly rejected firm timetables for withdrawal, but
President Bush reportedly agreed with Maliki on July 17, 2008, to set a timetable for a U.S.
pullout from Iraq at the end of 2011. The SOFA sets that timetable - eliminating a previous
provision that allowed for extension at Iraqi request – and stipulates that U.S. combat forces will
cease patrols in Iraqi cities as of June 30, 2009, although the top U.S. commander, Gen. Raymond
Odierno, said in December 2008 that some U.S. forces might remain in some cities as “trainers”
of Iraqi forces. The final draft also included a provision, not in previous drafts and intended to
mollify Iran, that U.S. forces cannot use Iraq as a base to attack other countries. Under the pact,
the “Green Zone” or “International Zone” was handed over to Iraqi control on January 1, 2009.
The SOFA does not allow for permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. The facilities used by U.S. forces in
Iraq do not formally constitute “permanent bases.” This is in line not only with Iraqi insistence on
full sovereignty but with recent U.S. legislation including: the Defense Appropriation for FY2007
(P.L. 109-289); the FY2007 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 109-364); a FY2007 supplemental
(P.L. 110-28); the FY2008 Defense Appropriation (P.L. 110-116); P.L. 110-181 (FY2008 defense
26 CRS Report RL34362, Congressional Oversight and Related Issues Concerning the Prospective Security Agreement
Between the United States and Iraq, by Michael John Garcia, R. Chuck Mason, and Jennifer K. Elsea
27 P.L. 109-289 (FY2007 DOD appropriations) contains a provision that the Defense Department
not agree to allow U.S. forces in Iraq to be subject to Iraqi law. A similar provision involving
prohibition on use of U.S. funds to enter into such an agreement is in the FY2008 Consolidated
Appropriation (P.L. 110-161).
authorization); the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriation (P.L. 110-161); FY2008/9 supplemental;
the Continuing for FY2009 (P.L. 110-329), and the FY2009 defense authorization (P.L. 110-417)
contain provisions prohibiting the establishment or the use of U.S. funds to establish permanent
military installations or bases in Iraq. Several of these laws (P.L. 110-28, P.L. 110-116, P.L. 110-
181, P.L. 110-252, P.L. 110-329, and P.L. 110-417—also say that the United States shall not
control Iraq’s oil resources, a statement urged by Recommendation 23 of the Iraq Study Group
Also passed on November 27, 2008 were non-binding resolutions designed to ease Sunni
concerns over government abuses and repression and thereby attract their support for the pact.
The resolutions called for a release of eligible Sunni detainees and for more sectarian balance in
the security forces. Most of the opposition votes in the parliamentary vote came from the Sadr
movement. His followers had held demonstrations against the pact in Baghdad for the several
weeks prior to the vote. Sadr’s faction holds 30 seats in the 275 seat National Assembly, which
was not enough to defeat it, even if the Assembly agreed to require a two-thirds vote. According
to some observers, Sadr had hoped to defeat the SOFA by allying with Shiite independents as
well as Sunnis (there are about 70 Sunni deputies in the Assembly) and secular leaders.
On December 24, 2009, the COR, after several attempts, passed a law authorizing non-U.S. troop
contingents to remain in Iraq until July 2009, beyond the December 31, 2008 expiration of the
U.N. mandate. Of particular concern was the still large British contingent in southern Iraq, which
would not have had legal authority for its presence had this law not been adopted.
Several U.N. resolutions assign a role for the United Nations in post-Saddam reconstruction and
governance. Resolution 1483 (cited above) provided for a U.N. special representative to Iraq, and
“called on” governments to contribute forces for stabilization. Resolution 1500 (August 14, 2003) 28
established U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Now largely recovered from the
bombing of its headquarters in 2003, the size of UNAMI in Iraq, headed by Swedish diplomat
Staffan de Mistura, exceeds 120 in Iraq (80 in Baghdad, 40 in Irbil, and others in Basra and
Kirkuk), with equal numbers “offshore” in Jordan.
UNAMI’s responsibilities are expanding. U.N. Security Council Resolution, 1770, adopted
August 10, 2007 and which renewed UNAMI’s mandate for another year, enhanced its
responsibility to be lead promoter of political reconciliation in Iraq and to plan a national census.
It is the key mediator of the Kurd-Arab dispute over Kirkuk and other disputed territories, as
discussed below in sections on Iraqi politics. UNAMI is also playing a major role in helping
prepare for provincial elections by updating voter registries. It is extensively involved in assisting
with the constitution review process, which has stalled. U.N. Resolution 1830 of August 7, 2008
renewed UNAMI’s expanded mandate until August 2009. (In Recommendations 7 and 26 and
several others the Iraq Study Group calls for increased U.N. participation in promoting
reconciliation in Iraq.)
28 Its mandate has been renewed each year since, most recently by Resolution 1700 (August 10, 2006).
Many observers are measuring the effectiveness of U.S. policy by whether or not it facilitates 29
durable political reconciliation — considered key to creating stability that will outlast a U.S.
drawdown. U.S. officials have cited legislative achievements in Iraq in 2008—including adoption
of a De-Baathification reform law, an amnesty law for detainees, a law stipulating the power of
provincial councils, passage of the 2008 national budget, and the provincial election law—as key
indicators of political progress, while at the same time calling for further steps such as increasing
focus on provision of public services.
Although many Iraqi factions are moving more into politics and away from use of violence, there
continue to be significant splits in the power structure that could undermine U.S. gains. These
splits are between the dominant Shiites and the Sunni Arabs, within the Shiite and Sunni
communities, and between the Arabs and Kurds. In 2007, several major political blocs, including
the Sadrist faction and the leading Sunni “Consensus Front” pulled their members out of the
cabinet, leaving Maliki, at one point, with 13 out of the 37 total positions vacant. The pullout
from the UIA bloc in the COR by the Shiite Fadilah Party and the Sadr faction in April 2007 and
September 2007, respectively, left Maliki’s parliamentary majority thin. More recently, the main
Sunni bloc has fractured, and Maliki’s erstwhile key ally, ISCI, is now said to be working against
him possibly in an effort to constitutionally oust him as Prime Minister. The only major political
bloc that remains intact is the PUK-KDP Kurdish alliance.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
Born in 1950 in Karbala, has belonged to Da’wa Party since 1968. Named leader of his faction of the party in June
2007, replacing Ibrahim al-Jafari. An expert in Arab poetry, fled Iraq in 1980 after Saddam banned the party, initially to
Iran, but then to Syria when he refused Iran’s orders that he join Shiite militia groups fighting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq
war. Headed Da’wa offices in Syria and Lebanon and edited Da’wa Party newspaper. Advocated aggressive purge of
ex-Baathists as member of the Higher National De-Baathification Commission after Saddam’s fall and continues to
seek rapid execution of convicted Saddam-era figures, earning him criticism among Sunnis for sectarian bias. Elected
to National Assembly (UIA list) in January 2005 and chaired its “security committee.” Publicly supported Hezbollah
(which shares a background with Da’wa Party) during July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict, prompting
congressional criticism during July 2006 visit to Washington DC. Has tense relations with ISCI, whose activists accuse
him of surrounding himself with Da’wa members. Prior to 2007, repeatedly shielded Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia from
U.S. military sweeps, but has now fallen out with Sadr.
Provincial elections are to be held on January 31, 2009, as provided for in a law adopted on
November 18, 2008. They will test the strength of Maliki, Sadr, and emerging Sunni factions, and
campaigning has begun, with candidates able to be openly identified for the first time in the post-
Saddam period. The election law: stipulates an “open list/proportional representation” voting
system (the same system is used in Switzerland) for 440 total provincial council seats; a ban on
29 On January 10, President Bush stated that the surge would give the Iraqi government “the breathing space it needs to
make progress in other critical areas, adding that "most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace—and
reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.” Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/
religious symbols from the balloting; a 25% quota for females in the provincial councils30;
postponing to a later time provincial elections in Kirkuk and the three KRG provinces; and the
establishment of a COR committee to try to resolve Kirkuk and related disputes. A revision to the
election law restored six reserved seats for minorities—Christians are to get one seat in each of
Baghdad, Nineveh, and Basra provinces; Yazidis get one seat in Nineveh; the Sabeans get one
seat in Baghdad; and the Shabaks get one seat in Nineveh. This is far fewer than the UNAMI
recommendation that the minorities should get twice this amount of reserved seats, but it
represents a major improvement on the election law passed in November 2008 that eliminated all
the reserved seats for minorities.
The provincial elections have widened an intra-Shiite split, but signs indicate that this rift is
moving away from consistent armed conflict. This trend is a consequence of the late March 2008
move by Maliki to try to weaken the Sadr and Fadilah militias by sending Iraqi Security Force
(ISF) units to Basra to eliminate Sadr/Mahdi control of major districts. Prior to 2007, Maliki had
the support of the Sadr faction, but that alliance disintegrated in 2007 when the United States
insisted that Maliki allow U.S. forces to pursue Mahdi Army militiamen as part of the “troop
surge.” The Basra crackdown was viewed as a move by Maliki and ISCI to weaken Sadr’s faction
politically. Sadr’s representatives say the movement is backing independents on the various lists
offered — there is no separate single “Sadrist slate.” Pro-Sadr candidates did not compete
vigorously in the January 2005 provincial elections, leaving the faction under-represented in most
southern provinces, including Basra.
Moqtada Al Sadr
Moqtada Al Sadr is the lone surviving son of the Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed, along with his
other two sons, by regime security forces in 1999 after he began agitating against Saddam. Sadr inherited his father’s
political base in “Sadr City,” a large (2 million population) Shiite district of Baghdad, but is also strong in and has
challenged ISCI for control of Diwaniyah, Nassiriyah, Basra, Amarah, and other major Shiite cities. Since late 2007, he
has reportedly been in Qom, Iran, studying Shiite Islamic theology under Iranian judiciary head Ayatollah Mahmud
Shahrudi and Qom-based Iraqi cleric Ayatollah Kazem Haeri. Sadr is married to the daughter of Da’wa Party founder
and revolutionary Shiite theologian Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr Al Sadr (a cousin of his father).
Although Moqtada Al Sadr was initially viewed as a young firebrand lacking religious and political weight, he is now
viewed as a threat by the mainstream Shiite factions. Increasingly perceived as clever and capable—simultaneously
participating in the political process to avoid confrontation with the United States while denouncing the “U.S.
occupation” and occasionally sending his militia into combat against the United States and rival Iraqi factions. He has a
large following among poor Shiites who identify with other “oppressed Muslims” and who oppose virtually any U.S.
presence in the Middle East. Sadr formed the “Mahdi Army” militia in 2003. Sadr supporters won 30 seats in
parliament under UIA bloc but pulled out of the bloc in September 2007; the faction also has two supporters under
the separate “Messengers” list. Prior to its April 2007 pullout from the cabinet, the Sadr faction held ministries of
health, transportation, and agriculture and two ministry of state posts. In June 2008, his office announced it would not
run a separate electoral list in upcoming provincial elections and that most of the Mahdi Army would transform into a
political movement, leaving several hundred fighters in “special companies” authorized to fight U.S. and partner forces
in Iraq. In August 2008, stated intention to convert part of Mahdi Army to nationwide charity arm (“mumahidun” –
“trail blazers”) to compensate for government ineffectiveness, but leaving his level of commitment to purely political
as opposed to violent action still uncertain. His faction opposes the Shiite “region” in the south, opposes a draft oil
law as a “sellout,” and opposed the SOFA with the U.S. Sadr still clouded by allegations of involvement in the April
10, 2003, killing in Iraq of Abd al-Majid Khoi (the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoi and head of his London-based
Khoi Foundation). There is discussion throughout this report about Sadr’s faction.
30 This provision is subject to some lack of clarity and dispute, although Iraq’s election commission says it will
interpret the law so as to fill 25% of provincial council seats with women.
The provincial elections will test Maliki’s strength and that of his faction of the Da’wa Party.
After the Basra crackdown, Sunni and Kurdish leaders rallied to Maliki’s side because the
operation showed his willingness to act against fellow Shiites. Partly as a result, the leading Sunni
“Accord Front” bloc rejoined the cabinet in July 2008, taking one deputy prime ministership, as
well as the ministries of Culture, Women’s Affairs, Higher Education, Communications, and the
State ministry of Foreign Affairs. Simultaneously, the COR voted in four new UIA members to
fill vacancies left by the pullout of the Sadrist faction from the cabinet in 2007. These cabinet
changes added to the October 2007 replacement of two resigned Sadrist ministers (Health and
Agriculture) with independent Shiites, meaning that the cabinet now has only one vacancy
That same political boost to Maliki has brought on problems for him. Maliki’s perceived political
strength has caused ISCI to compete vigorously against Maliki’s Da’wa Party in the provincial
elections. ISCI has always been viewed as the larger, better organized party, controlling the
provincial leadership of at least four southern provinces. Unlike ISCI, the Da’wa Party never had
an organized militia arm, and Maliki has tried to redress the power imbalance through alliances
with local security forces and with Shiite tribal leaders in the form of government-directed “tribal
support councils.” Some reports suggest that Iran is already actively working to support ISCI’s
prospects in those elections, building on the longstanding ties between ISCI leaders and Iran’s
leadership. The vigorous competition among Shiite groups has manifested most notably in Basra,
where 1,300 candidates are competing for the province’s 35 council seats. (A total of 440 seats in
the fourteen provinces that will vote are up for election.)
Although many Sunnis are coming into the political process, this trend has creating growing
differences within the Sunni Arab political structure. The established, urban-based Sunni parties
that participated in the December 2005 elections are now facing challenges from tribally-based
Sunnis who are part of the “Awakening (As Sahwa) Movement,” founded in late 2005 in Ramadi
by Shaykh Abd al-Sattar al-Rishawi, to counter Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Awakening Movement is
credited with helping stabilize Anbar in partnership with U.S. forces. The tribal groups are
competing vigorously in the upcoming provincial elections. The Awakening leaders have been
working with the United States and its forces, but they blame Maliki for refusing to allow any
more than 20% of the 92,000 “Sons of Iraq” (former insurgents who turned to assist the U.S.
military) to join the Iraqi Security Forces, a sign of Maliki’s continued distrust. The Awakening
movement is now headed by Shaykh Rishawi’s brother, Ahmad, following Rishawi’s
assassination in September 2007. Another key figure in their coalition is Anbar province
Governor Mamoun Rashid al-Alwani. This power struggle contributed to a delay in the handover
of Anbar Province to Iraqi control, but that handover did take place on September 1, 2008.
The splits among even the establishment Sunnis have widened in advance of the provincial
elections. The main Sunni bloc, Tawafuq, fractured in December 2008 with the pullout of the
National Dialogue Council party from the bloc. The tensions contributed to the December 2008
decision by COR Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani to resign under criticism. The Sunnis have
not been able, to date, to agree on a new Speaker.
Although the provincial elections will not be held in the Kurdish region, the Kurds remain fully
engaged in the political structure in Baghdad. However, they are increasingly at odds with Maliki
over the lack of progress in resolving the status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, as well as
central government opposition to the KRG’s decision to move forward on oil and gas
development deals in advance of a national oil law. Iraq’s Oil Minister has called the deals—and
a separate KRG oil law—illegal. The Kurds insist on eventual implementation of Article 140 of
the constitution that mandated a referendum on whether Tamim (Kirkuk) Province will affiliate
formally with the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Bush Administration persuaded the
Kurds to grudgingly accept a delay of the referendum (constitutionally mandated to be held by
December 31, 2007) in favor of a temporary compromise under which the UNAMI produces
recommendations on whether or not to integrate some Kurdish-inhabited cities into the KRG,
including Khanaqin, Mandali, Sinjar, Makhmour, Akre, Hamdaniya, Tal Afar, Tilkaif, and
Shekhan. A June 2008 UNAMI report leaned toward the Kurds on some of these territories, but
with Arab Iraq on other territories, such as Hamdaniya and Mandali. UNAMI announced on
August 20, 2008 that it would propose, hopefully by late October 2008, a “grand deal” on Kirkuk
and other dispute territories, to be ratified by the constitutionally-mandated referendum.
However, that proposal is now delayed until after the provincial elections.
It was the Kirkuk dispute that caused a presidential veto of the July 22, 2008, COR vote (held on
July 15 despite a Kurdish walkout) on the first version of the needed provincial election law. The
first version of the law provided for equal division of power in Kirkuk (between Kurds, Arabs,
and Turkomans) until its status is finally resolved and for the ISF to replace the peshmerga as the
main security force in the province, producing communal strife in Kirkuk city. There were further
tensions in August 2008, over the central government’s attempts to oust peshmerga from control
of Khanaqin, a mixed Kurd-Arab city in Diyala Province inhabited by many Kurds. The Kurds—
reportedly using their intelligence service the Asayesh—have been strengthening their position in
Kirkuk by pressuring the city’s Arabs, both Sunni and Shiite, and Turkomans to leave. The
adopted provincial elections law provides for a COR committee to work on resolving the
Kirkuk/disputed territories dispute. The Kurds also fear Maliki’s “tribal support councils”
initiative as a move to reduce their influence in the north.
The Bush Administration asserts—in a May 2008 informal update to two reports mandated by
P.L. 110-28——that most of the required “benchmarks” of progress have now been completed
and will promote reconciliation, although the lasting effects will largely depend on
implementation. The benchmarks were outlined in a FY2007 Supplemental Appropriation Act
(P.L. 110-28), which conditioned the release of some funds for Iraq operations upon progress on
these benchmarks, and required the Administration to report on progress by July 15 and 31
September 15, 2007. A presidential waiver provision to permit the flow of funds was exercised. 32
P.L. 110-28 also mandated a GAO report released September 4, 2007, and a separate assessment
of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) by an outside commission (headed by retired Gen. James Jones)
The information below is intended to analyze Iraqi performance on the benchmarks, as compared
to what Iraqi leaders pledged in August 2006. This does not strictly correspond to the 18
benchmarks of P.L. 110-28. A chart on the those 18 benchmarks, along with subsequent
developments, is in CRS Report RS21968, Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks, by Kenneth
31 Presidential Determination No. 2007-27 of July 12, 2007, and Presidential Determination No. 2007-35 of September
32 Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq. GAO-07-1220T
(1) By September 2006, formation of a committee to review the constitution under the special
amendment process (Article 137); approval of a law to implement formation of regions; approval
of an investment law; and approval of a law establishing the Independent High Electoral
Commission (IHEC). The investment law was adopted in October 2006. The regions law was
adopted October 12, 2006, although, to mollify Sunni opposition who fear formation of a large
Shiite region in as many as nine provinces of southern Iraq, major factions agreed to delay the
formation of new regions until at least April 2008. Iraqi leaders are increasingly fearful of a push
on forming a large Shiite region, although the only such initiative that has materialized to date has
been a petition introduced on December 15, 2008 by Basra’s governor. To trigger a referendum,
the petition needs 10% voter signature (about 140,000 of Basra’s 1.4 million voters) by January
14, 2009. The Iraqi Election Commission has been collecting the signatures – although according
to its critics, without enthusiasm—but it does not appear there will be enough signatures, based
on press reporting.
The IHEC law — required to implement the planned provincial elections—was passed on
January 23, 2007. The nine election commissioners have been appointed, although they are
considered mostly representatives of the major blocs and not necessarily neutral.
The constitution review committee (CRC), chaired by Humam al-Hammoudi, a senior ISCI
leader, delivered “semi-final” recommendations for constitutional amendments in late May 2007,
but left many sensitive issues to be decided by senior faction leaders. Among them are the powers
of regions versus central government, the status of Kirkuk, and presidential powers (Sunnis want
the presidency to have more power to have increased powers). With deadlock remaining on 50
amendments covering these fundamental questions, but making some progress on the role of the
judiciary and some human rights, the CRC has repeatedly extended the deadline submitting its
final recommendations— the new deadline is the end of 2008. Sunni representatives reportedly
seek to alter the constitution so as to reduce the powers of the prime minister (who is likely to be
(2) By October 2006, approval of a provincial powers law and approval of a new oil law. The
provincial authorities law was passed on February 13, 2008. It was initially blocked when deputy
President Adel Abd al-Mahdi insisted it not include a provision for the Baghdad government to
dismiss provincial governors, but, reportedly under some U.S. pressure, he dropped his objection
on March 19, 2008 and the new law is in effect. The election law required to implement the
provincial elections was adopted on September 24, 2008, as noted above, and subsequently
amended to include reserved seats for minorities.
The oil laws have not been passed, to date. Beginning in mid-2006, a three member Oil and
Energy Committee working under the auspices of the Iraqi cabinet prepared draft hydrocarbon
framework legislation to regulate Iraq’s oil and gas sector. Following approval by the negotiating
committee, Iraq’s cabinet approved a draft version of the framework law in February 2007.
However, the Kurds, seeking to retain as much control as possible over development deals in the
KRG, opposed a revised version agreed by the cabinet. In July 2008, the Kurds and the central
government set up a “joint commission” to resolve the differences, and a new framework law
reportedly was forwarded to the COR in October 2008. A parliamentary committee rejected it and
sent it back to the cabinet for revision, but press reports in December 2008 indicated that a
compromise between the Kurds and the central government might be close. A related draft
revenue law, on which the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad says it expects progress in the remainder of
2008, would empower the federal government to collect oil and gas revenue, and reserve 17% of
oil revenues for distribution to the Kurdish regional government. Two other implementing laws
dealing with the structure of the oil industry and how foreign firms’ investments will be treated
have not yet been approved by the cabinet.
(3) By November 2006, approval of a new de-Baathification law and approval of a flag and
national anthem law. The January 12, 2008, COR adoption of the De-Baathification law, called
the Accountability and Justice Law, was considered a major development because of the emotions
and sensitivity among the dominant factions to allowing Baathists back into government. The
effect of the law, adopted unanimously by 143 in the COR who were present (opponents walked
out before the vote), on reconciliation depends on implementation, and thus far it has not been
implemented because new commissioners for the Higher De-Baathification Commission have not
been appointed. The law allows about 30,000 lower ranking ex-Baathists to regain their jobs;
3,500 Baathists (top three party ranks) would not, but would receive pensions instead. But, the
law could allow for judicial prosecution of all ex-Baathists and to firing of about 7,000 ex-
Baathists in post-Saddam security services, and bars ex-Saddam security personnel from
On January 22, 2008, the COR voted 110 (out of 165 present) to pass a law adopting a new
national flag that drops the previous Saddam-era symbols on the flag. However, some facilities
dominated by Sunnis, who oppose the new design, have not flown the new flag to date and accuse
the COR of adopting it because of pressure from the Kurds, who wanted a new flag in advance of
a regional Arab parliamentarians meeting in the Kurdish area in March 2008. There has been no
further progress on the national anthem issue.
(4) By December 2006, approval of laws to curb militias and to offer amnesty to insurgent
supporters. As noted, the law to grant amnesty to detainees (mostly Sunnis and Sadrists) held by
Iraq was passed on February 13, 2008, and went into effect on March 2, 2008. Thus far, 23,000
incarcerated persons have been granted amnesty, but the number actually released is not known,
according to the Defense Department. Detainees held by the United States (about 17,000) are
being transferred to Iraqi control under the U.S.-Iraq SOFA now in effect.
No formal laws to curb militias has been passed, but a June 2007 DOD “Measuring Stability”
report said Maliki had verbally committed to a militia demobilization program, and an executive
director of the program was named on May 12, 2007, but committee members have not been
appointed and a demobilization work plan not drafted. On April 9, 2008, following the Basra
crackdown discussed above, Maliki stated that no party that continues to field an illegal militia
would be permitted to participate in the planned provincial elections.
(5) By January 2007, completion of the constitutional review process. As noted above, the
constitution review committee has not completed its work.
(6) By February 2007, the formation of independent commissions to oversee governance. No
progress has been reported to date. (This is not one of the formal benchmarks stipulated by P.L.
(7) By March 2007, holding of a referendum on the constitutional amendments. See no. 5.
(8) By April 2007, Iraqi assumption of control of its military. Six of the ten Iraqi Army divisions
are now under Iraqi control. (This is not one of the P.L. 110-28 benchmarks.)
(9) By September 2007, Iraqi security control of all 18 provinces. Iraq Security Forces now have
security control for 13 provinces: Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Maysan, Karbala, Irbil,
Sulaymaniyah, Dohuk (the latter three are Kurdish provinces turned over May 30, 2007), Basra,
Qadisiyah, Anbar (September 1, 2008), Babil (October 23, 2008), and Wasit (October 29, 2008).
(The provincial handovers are not among the P.L. 110-28 benchmarks.)
(10) By December 2007, Iraqi security self-reliance. Estimates by Iraqi and U.S. commanders on
when Iraqi security forces would be able to secure Iraq by themselves are discussed in the
sections on the ISF later in this paper. (This is not one of the P.L. 110-28 benchmarks.) The
security related benchmarks of the eighteen mentioned in P.L. 110-28—such as applying law
even-handedly among all sects – are discussed later.
The Iraqi government is receiving growing diplomatic support, even though most of its
neighbors, except Iran, resent the Shiite and Kurdish domination of the regime. Ambassador
Crocker testified during April 8-9, 2008, that the U.S. lamented that, at that time, there were no
Arab ambassadors serving in Iraq, depriving the Arab states of countervailing influence to Iran’s
ties to Iraqi factions. In part responding to the U.S. pressure, during June-October 2008, Bahrain,
UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Qatar, and Egypt either sent ambassadors to Iraq or announced that
they would. Jordan’s King Abdullah visited Iraq on August 11, 2008, becoming the first Arab
leader to do so. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited March 2-3, 2008. Turkey’s
Foreign Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan visited in July 2008, and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
Siniora visited in August 2008. Saudi Arabia, which considers the Shiite dominated government
in Baghdad an affront to what it sees as rightful Sunni pre-eminence, told visiting Secretary of
State Rice in August 2007 that the Kingdom will consider opening an embassy in Iraq. However,
the move remains “on hold.”
The United States has tried to build regional support for Iraq through an ongoing “Expanded
Ministerial Conference of Iraq’s Neighbors” process, consisting of Iraq’s neighbors, the United
States, all the Gulf monarchy states, Egypt, and the permanent members of the United Nations
Security Council). The first meeting was in Baghdad on March 10, 2007. Iran and Syria attended,
as did the United States. A follow-on meeting in Egypt was held May 3 and 4, 2007, in concert
with additional pledges of aid for Iraq under an “International Compact for Iraq (ICI)” and
agreement to establish regional working groups on Iraq’s security, fuel supplies, and Iraqi
refugees. Those groups have each had several meetings. A ministerial meeting held in Istanbul on
November 2, 2007, but that meeting was reportedly dominated by the crisis between Turkey and
Iraq over safe haven for the Turkish Kurdish opposition PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party),
discussed further below. The November 2007 meeting did agree to create an institutional support
mechanism for the process, possibly run by UNAMI. The third full “Expanded Neighbors”
meeting was held in Kuwait on April 22, 2008, although without any significant announcements
from major Arab states on opening embassies in Iraq, remitting pledged reconstruction funds, or
writing off Saddam-era debt. No progress on debt relief or related issues were made at a meeting
of the Iraq Compact countries in Sweden on May 30, 2008. Bilateral U.S.-Iran meetings on Iraq
are discussed below.
The State Department’s report on human rights for 2007, released March 11, 2008, much as the
previous year’s report, blamed much of the human suffering in Iraq on the overall security
environment, the wide scale presence of militias, and partisans in the government, rather than on
the Iraqi government. The report, which was produced before the attacks on Christians, the source
of which is unclear, said that Iraq has the legal framework “for the free exercise of human rights.”
U.S. officials say Iraqis are freer than at any time in the past 30 years, with a free press and the
ability to organize politically. Similarly, the September 19, 2008 report on International Religious
Freedom attributed restrictions on the free exercise of religion (by religious minorities) to
“terrorists, extremists, and criminal gangs,” while praising the Iraqi government for endorsing
free exercise of religious rights.
Status of Christians. On the other hand, the Christians of Mosul (Nineveh Province) are blaming
the Kurds for threatening them to leave the province in order to strengthen the Kurdish position
there. Subsequent to the passage of the provincial election law, Christians in Mosul protested the
law (which stripped out reserve seats for minorities) and began to be subjected to assassinations
and other attacks by unknown sources. About 1,000 Christian families reportedly fled the
province in October 2008, although Iraqi officials report that most families have returned as of
December 2008. Some blamed the attacks on Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is still somewhat strong in
Nineveh Province and associates Christians with the United States. UNAMI coordinated
humanitarian assistance to the Christians and others displaced.
Even before the recent violence in Nineveh, more than 100,000 Christians had left Iraq since the
fall of Saddam Hussein. Christian priests have been kidnapped and killed; most recently, the body
of Chaldean Catholic archbishop Faraj Rahho was discovered in Mosul on March 13, 2008, two
weeks after his reported kidnapping. However, some Christians in Baghdad felt safe enough to
celebrate Christmas (2007) at churches in Baghdad. An attack on the Yazidis in August 2007,
noted above, also appeared to reflect the precarious situation for Iraqi minorities. U.S. military
forces do not specifically protect Christian sites at all times, partly because Christian leaders do
not want to appear closely allied with the United States. Previously, some human rights groups
have alleged Kurdish abuses against Christians and other minorities in the Nineveh Plain, close to
the KRG-controlled region. Kurdish leaders deny the allegations. The FY2008 Consolidated
Appropriation earmarked $10 million in ESF from previous appropriations to assist the Nineveh
plain Christians. A supplemental appropriation for 2008 and 2009 (P.L. 110-252) earmarks
another $10 million for this purpose.
Another State Department report to Congress details how the FY2004 supplemental appropriation
(P.L. 108-106) “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund” (IRRF) has been spent for programs on this
issue (“2207 Report”). These programs are run by the State Department Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (State/INL), USAID, and State Department Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL):
• About $1.014 billion from the IRRF was for “Democracy Building,” including
programs to empower women and promote their involvement in Iraqi politics, as
well as programs to promote independent media. Subsequent appropriations
specifically on that issue included (1) FY2006 regular foreign aid appropriations
(P.L. 109-102) – $28 million each to the International Republican Institute and
the National Democratic Institute for Iraq democracy promotion; (2) FY2006
supplemental appropriation (P.L. 109-234) – $50 million in ESF for Iraq
democracy promotion, allocated to various organizations performing democracy
work there (U.S. Institute of Peace, National Democratic Institute, International
Republican Institute, National Endowment for Democracy, and others); (3)
FY2007 supplemental appropriation (P.L. 110-28) – $250 million in additional
“democracy funding;” (4) FY2008 and FY2009 supplemental appropriation (P.L.
Of the IRRF:
• About $71 million was for “Rule of Law” programs.
• About $15 million was to promote human rights and human rights education.
• About $159 million was to build and secure courts and train legal personnel,
including several projects that attempt to increase the transparency of the justice
system, computerize Iraqi legal documents, train judges and lawyers, develop
various aspects of law, such as commercial law, promote legal reform. There are
currently 1,200 judges working, up 100 since September 2007, reporting to the
Higher Juridical Council.
• About $128 million is for “Investigations of Crimes Against Humanity,”
primarily former regime abuses.
• $10 million was for the Commission for the Resolution of Real Property Disputes
(formerly the Iraqi Property Claims Commission) which is evaluating Kurdish
claims to property taken from Kurds, mainly in Kirkuk, during Saddam’s regime.
Other ESF funds have been used for activities to empower local governments, including the
“Community Action Program” (CAP) through which local reconstruction projects are voted on by
village and town representatives (about $50 million in funding per year); related Provincial
Reconstruction Development Committees (PRDCs); and projects funded by Provincial
Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), local enclaves to provide secure conditions for reconstruction.
The Bush Administration asserted that economic reconstruction will contribute to stability.33
However, as violence began to diminish in late 2007 and 2008, the Administration concurred with
the substantial bipartisan sentiment that Iraq, flush with oil revenues, should begin assuming the
financial burden for its own reconstruction and security costs. In FY2008 and 2009, U.S. aid to
Iraq, particularly aid to the ISF, has fallen from earlier levels.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a total of about $48 billion has been appropriated for
reconstruction funding (including security forces), including about $2.8 billion in Commanders
Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds, which are DOD funds that are distributed locally
by U.S. military officers to build good will toward U.S. troops. Some assessments show that some
CERP funds have been used for relatively ambitious development projects usually handled by
33 In Recommendation 67, the Iraq Study Group called on the President to appoint a Senior Advisor for Economic
Reconstruction in Iraq, a recommendation that was largely fulfilled with the February 2007 appointment of Timothy
Carney as Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq. That position has been held since 2007 by Amb. Charles Ries.
USAID. For more detailed breakdowns of U.S. aid to Iraq, see CRS Report RL31833, Iraq:
Reconstruction Assistance, by Curt Tarnoff.
A major source of reconstruction funds was the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. About $20.9
billion was appropriated for the IRRF in two supplemental appropriations: FY2003 supplemental,
P.L. 108-11, which appropriated about $2.5 billion; and the FY2004 supplemental appropriations,
P.L. 108-106, which provided about $18.42 billion. According to State Department reports, the
IRRF sector allocations are as follows:
• $5.03 billion for Security and Law Enforcement;
• $1.315 billion for Justice, Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Civil Society (some
funds from this category discussed above);
• $1.014 billion for Democracy (as discussed above);
• $4.22 billion for Electricity Sector;
• $1.724 billion for Oil Infrastructure;
• $2.131 billion for Water Resources and Sanitation;
• $469 million for Transportation and Communications;
• $333.7 million for Roads, Bridges, and Construction;
• $746 million for Health Care;
• $805 million for Private Sector Development (includes $352 million for debt
relief for Iraq);
• $410 million for Education, Refugees, Human Rights, Democracy, and
Governance (includes $99 million for education); and
• $213 million for USAID administrative expenses.
Before the war, it was widely asserted by Administration officials that Iraq’s vast oil reserves,
believed second only to those of Saudi Arabia and the driver of Iraq’s economy, would fund Iraq’s
reconstruction costs. The oil industry infrastructure suffered little damage during the U.S.-led
invasion (only about nine oil wells were set on fire), but it has been targeted by insurgents and
smugglers. Protecting and rebuilding this industry (Iraq’s total pipeline system is over 4,300 miles
long) has received substantial U.S. and Iraqi attention; that focus has shown some success as
production, since May 2008, has been near pre-war levels.
Corruption and mismanagement are key issues. The U.S. military reports in recent “Measuring
Stability” reports that elements of the protection forces for the oil sector (Strategic Infrastructure
Battalions and Facilities Protection Service for the Oil Ministry) are suspected of complicity for
smuggling as much as 70% of the output of the Baiji refinery, cost Iraq as much as $2 billion in
revenue per year. The Iraqi government needs to import refined gasoline because it lacks
sufficient refining capacity. A GAO report released August 2, 2007 said that inadequate metering,
re-injection, corruption, theft, and sabotage, likely renders Iraq’s oil production 100,000-300,000
barrels per day lower than the figures shown below, taken from State Department report. (Steps to
correct some of these deficiencies in the oil sector are suggested in Recommendations 62 of the
Iraq Study Group report.)
A related issue is long-term development of Iraq’s oil industry and which foreign energy firms, if
any, might receive preference for contracts to explore Iraq’s vast reserves. International
investment has been assumed to depend on the passage of the hydrocarbons laws, and some are
concerned that the draft oil laws, if implemented, will favor U.S. firms. In April 2008, the
European Union claimed to be close to an energy cooperation deal with Iraq. A Russian
development deal with Saddam’s government (the very large West Qurna field, with an estimated
11 billion barrels of oil) was voided by the current government in December 2007. However, in
November 2008, the Iraqi government approved the Saddam-era (1997) deal with Chinese firms
to develop the Ahdab field, with an estimated value of $3.5 billion. Poland reportedly is
negotiating with Iraq for possible investments. South Korea and Iraq signed a preliminary
agreement on April 12, 2007, to invest in Iraq’s industrial reconstruction. Other investors in the
KRG region include Norway’s DNO, Turkey’s Genel; Canada’s Western Zagros; Turkish-
American PetPrime; Turkey/U.S.’s A and T Energy; Hunt Oil, and Dana Gas (UAE). However,
the Kurds are constrained in their export routes, dependent on the Iraqi national pipeline network
and on cooperation from Turkey, which is declining because of the heightened tensions between
Turkey and Iraq’s Kurds over the safehaven for the PKK. The produced oil from some of these
projects will, at least initially, be trucked out. (In Recommendation 63, the Iraq Study Group says
the United States should encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector and assist in eliminating
contracting corruption in that sector.)
Table 2. Selected Key Indicators
Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil
Oil Production Production Exports Exports Revenue Revenue Revenue
(weekly avg.) (pre-war) (pre-war) (2006) (2007) (2008)
2.07 million barrels 2.5 mbd 1.88 mbd 2.2 mbd $31.3 billion $41 $61.6
per day (mbd) billion billion
Pre-War Load Current Load (hrs. per
Served (MWh) Served day) National Average (hrs. per day)
102,000 120,000 (8.9 year ago) 13.4 (10.7 year ago)
Note: Figures in the table are provided by the State Department “Iraq Weekly Status Report” dated January 7, 2009.
Oil export revenue is net of a 5% deduction for reparations to the victims of the 1990 Iraqi invasion and occupation
of Kuwait, as provided for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483 (May 22, 2003). That 5% deduction is paid into a
U.N. escrow account controlled by the U.N. Compensation Commission to pay judgments awarded.
In an effort to encourage private U.S. investment in Iraq, the Bush Administration lifted nearly all
U.S. sanctions on Iraq, beginning with Presidential Determinations issued under authorities
provided by P.L. 108-7 (FY2003 appropriations) and P.L. 108-11 (FY2003 supplemental).
• On May 22, 2003, President Bush issued Executive Order 13303, protecting
assets of post-Saddam Iraq from attachment or judgments. This remains in effect
and the Bush Administration pledged to continue this protection beyond the
December 31, 2008 expiration of the U.N. “Chapter 7” oversight of Iraq. U.N.
Security Council Resolution 1859 continues application of this protection to
other U.N. member states.
• On July 29, 2004, President Bush issued Executive Order 13350 ending a trade
and investment ban imposed on Iraq by Executive Order 12722 (August 2, 1990)
and 12724 (August 9, 1990), and reinforced by the Iraq Sanctions Act of 1990
(Section 586 of P.L. 101-513, November 5, 1990 (following the August 2, 1990
invasion of Kuwait).
• On September 8, 2004, the President designated Iraq a beneficiary of the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), enabling Iraqi products to be imported
to the United States duty-free.
• On September 24, 2004, Iraq was removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of
terrorism under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (P.L. 96-72). Iraq is
thus no longer barred from receiving U.S. foreign assistance, U.S. votes in favor
of international loans, and sales of arms and related equipment and services.
Exports of dual use items (items that can have military applications) are no 34
longer subject to strict licensing procedures.
• The FY2005 supplemental (P.L. 109-13) removed Iraq from a named list of
countries for which the United States is required to withhold a proportionate
share of its voluntary contributions to international organizations for programs in
The Administration is attempting to persuade other countries to forgive Iraq’s debt, built up
during Saddam’s regime—estimated to total about $116 billion (not including the U.N.-
administered reparations process from the 1991 Persian Gulf war). To date, Iraq has received
about $12 billion in debt relief from non-Paris Club bilateral creditors, and $20 billion in
commercial debt relief. The U.S. Treasury estimates Iraq’s remaining outstanding debt, including
that still owed to the Paris Club at between $52 billion and $76 billion.
The Persian Gulf states that supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war have been reluctant to write
off Iraq’s approximately $55 billion in debt to those countries (mainly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
with about $25 billion each). However, the UAE agreed on July 6, 2008 to write off all $7 billion
(including interest) of Iraqi debt. Iraq settled its debt (including some debt write-off) with
Bulgaria in August 2008. The Gulf states are also far behind on remitting aid pledges to Iraq, 35
according to the GAO.
34 A May 7, 2003, Executive Order left in place the provisions of the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act (P.L. 102-
484); that act imposes sanctions on persons or governments that export technology that would contribute to any Iraqi
advanced conventional arms capability or weapons of mass destruction programs.
On December 17, 2004, the United States signed an agreement with Iraq writing off 100% of
Iraq’s $4.1 billion debt to the United States; that debt consisted of principal and interest from 36
about $2 billion in defaults on Iraqi agricultural credits from the 1980s. On December 15, 2007,
Iraq cleared its debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by repaying $470 million earlier
than required and has a Stand-By Arrangement with the Fund. On December 13, 2004, the World
Trade Organization (WTO) began accession talks with Iraq.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the United States has employed a multi-faceted approach to
securing Iraq. In late 2006, the effort was determined by the Administration to be faltering as
violence and U.S. casualties escalated. In announcing a strategy revision on January 10, 2007,
President Bush said, “The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people and it is
unacceptable to me.” As President-elect Obama prepares to take office, the security situation is
dramatically improved, although still considered fragile.
U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad (Combined Joint Task Force-7, CJTF-7) is a multi-national
headquarters “Multinational Force-Iraq, MNF-I,” is headed as of September 2008, by General
Raymond Odierno. His predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, took over as head of U.S. Central
Command (CENTCOM) on October 31, 2008. The current head of Multinational Corps-Iraq
(number two commander) is Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin.
Until 2008, the duration and intensity of a Sunni Arab-led insurgency defied many expectations,
probably because it was supported by much of the Iraqi Sunni population that feels humiliated at
being ruled by Shiites and Kurds. Some Sunni insurgents have sought to return the Baath Party to
power, while others want to restore Sunni control more generally. The insurgent groups have been
loosely coordinated within cities and provinces. The most senior Baathist still at large is longtime
Saddam confidant Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri.
Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQ-I), founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (killed in a June 7, 2006, U.S.
airstrike), has been a key component of the insurgency because it is responsible for an estimated
90% of the suicide bombings against both combatant and civilian targets, including such high
profile attacks (HPA’s) as the August 2003 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. AQ-I is
composed of Sunni fighters from around the Arab and Islamic world who have come to Iraq to
fight U.S. forces and Shiite domination of Iraq. However, AQ-I has always been considered by
Iraqis as a separate component of the insurgency because its goals are not necessarily Iraq-37
36 For more information, see CRS Report RL33376, Iraq's Debt Relief: Procedure and Potential Implications for
International Debt Relief, by Martin A. Weiss.
37 AQ-I is discussed in detail in CRS Report RL32217, Al Qaeda in Iraq: Assessment and Outside Links, by Kenneth
At its height, the Sunni insurgency did not derail the political transition,38 but it caused rates of
U.S. casualties sufficient to stimulate debate in the United States over the U.S. commitment in
Iraq. Using rocket-propelled grenades, IEDs (improvised explosive devices), mortars, direct
weapons fire, suicide attacks, and occasional mass kidnappings, Sunni insurgents targeted U.S.
and partner foreign forces; Iraqi officials and security forces; Iraqi civilians of rival sects; Iraqis
working for U.S. authorities; foreign contractors and aid workers; oil export and gasoline
distribution facilities; and water, power, and other facilities. In 2007, insurgent groups exploded
chlorine trucks to cause widespread civilian injury or panic on about ten occasions; another
chlorine attack occurred in January 2008. Another 2007 trend was attacks on bridges, particularly
those connecting differing sects. Some insurgents choked off power supplies to rival
communities. At the height of the insurgency, Sunni-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad,
including Amiriya, Adhamiya, Fadhil, Jihad, Amal, and Dora (once a mostly Christian
neighborhood) were serving as Sunni insurgent bases. Sunni insurgents also made substantial
inroads into the mixed province of Diyala, pushing out some Shiite inhabitants, and in Nineveh
province as well.
U.S. officials say that a major turning point emerged in August 2006 when Iraqi Sunnis in highly
restive Anbar Province sought U.S. military assistance in turning against the AQ-I because of its
commission of abuses such as killings of those cooperating with the Iraqi government, forced
marriages, and attempts to impose strict Islamic law. The Sunni Iraqi turn against AQ-I was begun
by tribal figures calling themselves the “Awakening” (As Sahawa) or “Salvation Council”
movement. Some Iraqis, including many Shiites in the Shiite dominated Iraqi government,
believe the movement seeks not necessarily stability and economic renaissance but rather to use
U.S. support for a later push to restore Sunni leadership to Iraq. The Anbar Salvation Council was
not materially affected by the September 13, 2007, assassination of Shaykh Abd al-Sattar al-
In concert with the “troop surge,” U.S. commanders took advantage of this Awakening trend by
turning over informal security responsibility to about 92,000 former militants now called “Sons of
Iraq” (SOI), in exchange for an end to their anti-U.S. operations. (About 80% are Sunni and 20%
are anti-extremist Shiites, according to the U.S. military.) These fighters were first recruited in
Anbar by the various Awakening and Salvation Council leaders. Other urban, non-tribal
insurgents from such groups as the 1920 Revolution Brigades later joined the trend and decided
to cooperate with the United States. They were given some U.S. CERP funds and entered into
information-sharing arrangements with U.S. forces – policies that were controversial because of
the potential of the Sunni Iraqis to potentially resume fighting U.S. forces and Iraqi Shiites. U.S.
officials say no new weapons have been given to these groups, although some reports say U.S.
officers allow these fighters to keep captured weaponry. These fighters have been targeted by AQ-
I and some Iraqi Sunni insurgents as collaborators.
38 For further information, see Baram, Amatzia. “Who Are the Insurgents?” U.S. Institute of Peace, Special Report 134,
April 2005; and Eisenstadt, Michael and Jeffrey White. “Assessing Iraq’s Sunni Arab Insurgency.” Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Focus No. 50, December 2005.
The Sons of Iraq program has led to some tensions between Maliki and U.S. officials. The UIA
bloc publicly demanded an end to this U.S. strategy on October 2, 2007, claiming the United
States is “embracing ... terrorist elements.” Fearing empowering Sunnis particularly in the
security services, Maliki and his Shiite allies have resisted U.S. plans to integrate all the Sons into
the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
To date, the government has agreed to allow only 20% of the SOI to join the ISF. the remainder
will be vetted for other civil service positions, or given education and training for private sector
employment. As of November 10, 2008 the Iraqi government has taken over from the United
States the payments (about $350 per month) to 54,000 SoI from the Baghdad area. This allayed
concerns among the SoI that the payments might stop at some point. However, these fears
continue because some of the SoI have been arrested by (Shiite) ISF officers. In December 2008,
the Iraqi government took over payments to another approximately 10,000 SoI in Diyala
The Defense Department “Measuring Stability” report of December 2008 reports that many
insurgents have ended their activity. However, some suicide bombings and other attacks continue,
reportedly in cooperation with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQ-I). Ambassador Crocker said on May 25,
2008, following U.S. and Iraqi offensives against it in the Mosul area, that AQ-I “has never been
closer to defeat.” He said on July 25, 2008, that the Sunni insurgency, writ large, is “not much of
a challenge any more” to Iraq’s future. General Petraeus said in July 2008 that some AQ-I fighters
may be going to Afghanistan, where they perceive greater opportunities for success. CIA Director
Michael Hayden said on November 13, 2008 that Iraq is no longer the “central front” in the U.S.
war on terrorism because the flow of money, weapons, and foreign fighters into Iraq is greatly
diminished from previous levels. A key AQ-I leader, “Abu Sara” was killed in a U.S. strike in
October 2008. Still, AQ-I retains a presence in Nineveh Province, although it has been unable to
reignite sectarian violence there or elsewhere. AQ-I might have been responsible for a major
attack at a restaurant in Kirkuk on December 11, 2008. The attack disrupted a meeting intended to
try to calm Kirkuk, and it killed about 50 persons.
Although the flow of fighters and weapons is diminished, the December 2008 “Measuring
Stability” report said that Syria exercises “continued tolerance of AQ-I facilitation activity on its
soil...” and has made “limited and sporadic” efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.
Most recent estimates are that about 20 foreign fighters per month move into Iraq from Syria. The
Administration view was in evidence with a reported U.S. raid over the border into Syria on
October 27, 2008, reportedly killing an AQ-I organizer of fighters from Syria into Iraq. A
previous Measuring Stability report noted that Syria hosted the inaugural meeting (August 2007)
of the Border Security working group formed by the “Expanded Neighbors” process discussed
above. Other assessments say the Sunni insurgents, both Iraqi and non-Iraqi, receive funding from
wealthy donors in neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, where a number of clerics have
publicly called on Saudis to support the Iraqi insurgency.
Table 3. Key Security/Violence Indicators
Indicator Current Level
Number of U.S. forces “Surge” declared ended on July 31, 2008. U.S. total is about 140,000 (15 combat brigades);
in Iraq 165,000 was “surge” peak. U.S. forces reduced by about 8,000 at the end of 2008.
U.S./Other Casualties 4,227 U.S. forces; 3,404 by hostile action. 4,077 since end to”major combat operations”
(May 1, 2003). About 260 coalition (including 170 British). 1,000+ civilian contractors.
About 35 U.S. killed per month during October 2007-March 2008; increased to 50 in April
2008 but declined to 19 in May 2008 and only 6 – 20 per month since. 100+ per month
killed early-mid 2007.
Partner forces in Iraq About 5,000 from about 10 other countries, and scheduled to leave by July 2009. Down
from 28,000 in 2005. Many coalition partners left in advance of December 31 U.N.
AQ-I fighters 1,300-3,500 commonly estimated, precise figures not known
Number of Iranian 150+. Shiite militias have killed about 210 U.S. soldiers with Qods-supplied Explosively
Qods Forces in Iraq Formed Projectiles (EFP’s).
Iraq Civilian Deaths Less than 10/day, down from down from 100/day in December 2006, including sectarian
murders per day (33/day pre-surge).
Number of all Reduced to 20/day as of November 2008, lowest since 2004. Down from 200/day in July
Attacks/day 2007. Major car and other large suicide bombings down 75% from pre-surge, and attacks
in Anbar down 90%. DOD does not count Shiite-Shiite violence in figures.
Shiite militiamen 60,000 (40,000 Mahdi, 15,000 Badr, 5,000 Da’wa, Fadhila, other), although Sadr has
announced Mahdi will convert to social work
Sons of Iraq Fighters 92,000. More than half now paid by Iraqi government. Each paid $350/month by DOD
(CERP funds). $100 paid per IED revealed. DOD has spent $216 million on this program
as of June 2008.
Iraqis Leaving Iraq 2 million left, incl. 700,000 to Jordan, 1 million to Syria; another 2 million internally
or Displaced since 2003 displaced or relocated. Some families returning due to reduced violence levels and pressure from host countries.
Iraqi Army and Police 198 in operations; up from 104 in November 2006. About 110 Army battalions and 18
Battalions in National Police battalions operate with limited or minimal U.S. support.
operations/In the Lead
Total ISF 613,106 “assigned” (on payrolls, not necessarily present on duty). Authorized total is:
Number of Provinces 13: Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Najaf, Maysan, Irbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah (latter three in May
Under ISF Control 2007), Karbala (October 29), and Basra (December 16), Qadisiyah (July 16, 2008); Anbar
(September 1, 2008); Babil (October 23, 2008); Wasit (October 29, 2008)
Provincial 25 total. 11 are “e-PRTs”-embedded with combat units. Of remainder 11 are U.S.-led; 3
Reconstruction Teams are partner-led. There are 4 “provincial support teams” (PST’s)
Sources: Information provided by a variety of sources, including U.S. government reports on Iraq, Iraqi statements,
the Iraq Study Group report, DOD Measuring Stability reports, Petraeus April 2008 testimony, and press reports,
including Reuters Alertnet. See Table 5 and Table 6for additional figures on total numbers of Iraqi security forces,
by force component.
Contributing to the deteriorating security environment in 2006 and early 2007 was the increase in
Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence that many observers were characterizing as “civil war.” The
severe phase of sectarian violence was set off by the February 22, 2006, AQ-I bombing of the
Askariya Shiite mosque in Samarra, which set off a wave of Shiite militia attacks on Sunnis in the
first days after the mosque bombing. Top U.S. officials said in late 2006 that sectarian-motivated
violence—manifestations of an all-out struggle for political and economic power in Iraq—had
displaced the Sunni-led insurgency as the primary security challenge. Since November 2007, U.S.
officials have presented statistics showing a dramatic drop in Sunni-Shiite violence—attributing
the progress to the U.S. troop surge and the “ceasefire” of the Mahdi Army, called by Sadr in
The sectarian warfare wrenched Iraqi society by driving Sunnis and Shiites out of mixed
neighborhoods. Some observers say Sunnis largely “lost” the “battle for Baghdad,” with some
accounts saying that Baghdad was about 35% Sunni Arab during Saddam’s rule but was reduced
by the violence to about 20%. Many victims of sectarian violence turn up bound, dumped in
about nine reported sites around Baghdad, including in strainer devices in the Tigris River. The
Samarra mosque was bombed again on June 13, 2007 and their were reprisal attacks on Sunni
mosques in Basra and elsewhere, although the attack did not spark the large wave of reprisals that
the original attack did, possibly because the political elite appealed for calm after this second
attack. The shrine is being reconstructed, with the help of UNESCO.
Discussed below are the two major Shiite militias in Iraq: ISCI’s Badr Brigades and the Mahdi
• Badr Brigades. Most Badr militiamen have now folded into the ISF, particularly
the National Police and other police commando units. The Badr Brigades were
originally recruited, trained, and equipped by Iran’s hardline force, the
Revolutionary Guard, during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in which Badr guerrillas
conducted forays from Iran into southern Iraq to attack Saddam regime targets.
Badr fighters were recruited from the ranks of Iraqi prisoners of war held in Iran.
However, many Iraqi Shiites viewed ISCI as an Iranian puppet and Badr
operations in southern Iraq during the 1980s and 1990s did not shake Saddam’s
grip on power. This militia is led by Hadi al-Amiri (a member of the COR from
the “Badr Organization” of the UIA). In late 2005, U.S. forces uncovered militia-
run detention facilities (“Site 4”) and arrested those Badr Brigade and related
Iraqi police running them.
• Mahdi Army (Jaysh al-Mahdi, JAM). The March 2007 “Measuring Stability”
reports said this militia had “replaced AQ-I as the most dangerous accelerant of
potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence in Iraq.” U.S. assessments of the
JAM subsequently softened as the JAM largely abided by Sadr’s “ceasefire” of
JAM activities in August 2007. That directive might have represented an effort
not to directly confront the U.S. “troop surge.” The JAM later re-emerged as
perhaps the primary adversary of the United States and of Maliki during the
spring 2008 Basra fighting, discussed below.
Although Sunni-Shiite violence is down, U.S. reports and officials say the Shiite militias could
return to Iraq to interfere in the upcoming provincial elections, and could be positioned to
undermine Iraqi stability over the long term if the United States draws down forces too quickly.
Shiite-against-Shiite violence increased in 2007 and accelerated at times in 2008, perhaps because
Maliki and ISCI feared that the Sadr faction was trying to achieve political influence
commensurate with what it believes is its popularity. Since early 2007, these tensions had led to
consistent but varying levels of internecine fighting among Shiite groups in southern Iraq—
primarily between the Badr-dominated ISF police and army units on the one side, and Sadr’s
JAM on the other—in a competition for power, influence, and financial resources. The most
violent single incident took place on August 28, 2007, when fighting between the JAM and the
ISF (purportedly mostly Badr fighters within the ISF) in the holy city of Karbala, triggered by a
JAM attempt to seize control of the holy sites there, caused the death of more than 50 persons,
mostly ISF and JAM fighters. The popular backlash led Sadr to declare the JAM ceasefire.
Despite the cease-fire, intra-Shiite skirmishing later increased as international forces, particularly
those of Britain, reduced their presence in southern Iraq; Britain redeployed its forces from the
city to Basra airport in September 2007, and it handed over control of the province to the Iraqis
on December 16, 2007. There had been no major concentrations of U.S. troops there, leaving the
security of the city entirely the responsibility of the ISF.
On March 26, 2008, Maliki ordered the launch of an ISF offensive (Operation Charge of the
Knights) against the JAM and other militias in Basra, in an effort to reestablish “rule of law.”
Sadr read the move as an effort to weaken his movement in advance of planned provincial
elections. In the fighting, the Badr-dominated ISF units initially performed poorly; many
surrendered their vehicles, weapons, and positions to JAM militiamen, forcing the U.S. and
British military to support the ISF with airstrikes, mentors, and advisers. The fighting on March
30, 2008 with an Iran-brokered proposal by Sadr and welcomed by the Maliki government, that
did not require the JAM to surrender its weapons. As a result of a settlement that appeared to be
on Sadr’s terms, the offensive was at first considered a setback to the ISF. Subsequent to the
offensive, 1,300 ISF members were dismissed for refusing to fight, and the Iraqi police and army
commander in Basra were recalled to Baghdad. General Petraeus, in his April 2008 testimony,
called the offensive “poorly planned,” and some reports suggest the Maliki move pre-empted a
more deliberate move against the Shiite militias in Basra planned by MNF-I. However, as a result
of subsequent U.S. and Britain-backed operations by the ISF, JAM activities in Basra and nearby
provinces (Maysan, Qadisiyah) have been reduced.
Simultaneous with the Basra combat and since, JAM fighters in the Sadr City district of Baghdad
fired volleys of 107 mm Iranian-supplied rockets on the International Zone, killing several U.S.
soldiers and civilians. U.S. and ISF forces subsequently pushed into the southern districts of Sadr
City to take the rockets out of range. The fighting caused many Sadr City residents to flee, and
fighting continued against U.S. forces. Since a May 10, 2008 agreement for the JAM to permit
ISF forces (but not American forces) to patrol northern Sadr City, the district—and JAM activities
in general—has quieted considerably. As a result of the setbacks, Sadr announced in July 2008 a
transformation of his movement and of the JAM into a cultural and social organization, although
with continued military activities by 2008 of “special companies” of Mahdi fighters authorized to
These “Special Group” fighters, some of whom have retreated into Iran but some of which are
also said to be filtering back into Iraq, are said to be amenable to influence by Tehran and not
fully under Sadr’s control. The December 2008 Measuring Stability report added that U.S.
commanders observe that some Sadr fighters are leaving the faction and seeking amnesty.
U.S. reports have identified Iranian aid to Shiite militias as part of Iran’s “malign” influence in
Iraq that might pose the greatest long term threat to Iraqi stability. However, U.S. public
assessments of Iranian support for militias have observed diminution in Iranian weapons
shipments and military influence in Iraq. This is in contrast to observations in a February 11,
2007, U.S. defense briefing in Baghdad —and highlighted in the Petraeus and Crocker
testimonies of April 8-9, 2008 – that accused the Qods (Jerusalem) Force of Iran’s Revolutionary
Guard – in concert with Lebanese Hezbollah—of aiding the JAM with explosives and weapons,
including the highly lethal “explosively forced projectiles” (EFPs). From December 2006 to
September 2007, U.S. forces arrested 20 alleged Iranian Revolutionary Guard Qods Forces and
other agents; another was arrested on November 18, 2008. U.S. forces released nine of them in
November 2007, and another in December, but still hold those of highest “value.” On August 12,
2008, the U.S.-led coalition arrested nine Hezbollah operatives in Baghdad; they were allegedly
involved in smuggling Iranian weaponry to Shiite militias in Iraq. (For more information, see
CRS Report RS22323, Iran's Activities and Influence in Iraq, by Kenneth Katzman.)
Iran’s support for Shiite militias contributed to a U.S. decision to conduct direct talks with Iran on
the issue of stabilizing Iraq, a key recommendation of the December 2006 Iraq Study Group
(Recommendations 9, 10, and 11). The Bush Administration initially rejected that
recommendation; the President’s January 10, 2007, Baghdad security initiative included
announcement of an additional aircraft carrier group and additional Patriot anti-missile systems to
the Gulf, moves clearly directed against Iran.
As part of the shift, the Bush Administration supported and participated in the March 10, 2007,
regional conference in Baghdad and the follow-up regional conference held in Egypt on May 3
and 4, 2007. Subsequently, the two sides announced and then held high profile direct talks, at the
Ambassador level, on May 28, 2007. Another meeting was held on July 24, 2007, with little
agreement apparent at the meeting but with a decision to form a U.S.-Iran working group to
develop proposals for both sides to help ease Iraq’s security difficulties. The working group met
for the first time on August 6. In his September 10 and 11, 2007 testimony, Ambassador Crocker
said the talks with Iran were worth continuing because Iran might, at some point, alter its stance.
Following U.S. assessments of reduced Iranian weapons shipments into Iraq, the United States
agreed to another meeting with Iran in Baghdad, but the planned December 18, 2007 meeting was
postponed over continuing U.S.-Iran disagreements over the agenda for another round of talks, as
well as over Iran’s insistence that the talks be between Ambassador Crocker and Iranian
Ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi. On May 5, 2008, Iran said it would not participate in any
further meetings in this channel because of the U.S. combat in Sadr City, which Iran says is
resulting in civilian deaths. Secretary of State Rice did not hold any substantive meeting with
Iran’s Foreign Minister at the “Expanded Neighbors” meeting in Kuwait on April 22, 2008, or at
the Iraq Compact meeting in Sweden on May 30.
Based on testimony by Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton on January 13, 2009, it appears
the Obama Administration will seek to pick up the engagement with Iran on this and other issues.
The testimony came ten days after Prime Minister Maliki made his fourth visit to Iran as Prime
Minister, this time purportedly to reassure Iran about the implementation of the U.S.-Iraq SOFA.
Iran is also pressing Maliki to take control of “Camp Ashraf,” where about 3,500 Iranian
oppositionists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran are protected by U.S. f orces, even
though it is named by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Iraq is threatening to
expel the activists, although not to “forcibly” deport them to Iran.
At the same time, security on Iraq’s northern border remains fragile, although not to the point of
imminent crisis as existed in late 2007. Turkey fears that the Iraqi Kurds might seek independence
and thereby spark similar separatists drives among Turkey’s Kurds. The leading force for Kurdish
separatism in Turkey is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also referred to as Kongra Gel
(KGK). Turkey alleges that Iraq’s Kurds (primarily the KDP, whose power base abuts the Turkish
border) are actively harboring the anti-Turkey PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) guerrilla group in
northern Iraq that has killed about 40 Turkish soldiers since September 2007. Turkey’s parliament
in October 2007 approved a move into northern Iraq against the PKK and mobilized a reported
possibly because U.S. officials are putting pressure on Kurdish leaders not to harbor the PKK,
and because U.S. officials are reportedly sharing information on the PKK with Turkey. The Iraqi
Arabs generally favor cooperating with Turkey—and in September 2007 signed an agreement
with Turkey to pledge such cooperation. The issue dominated the expanded neighbors meeting in
Istanbul on November 2, 2007, as well as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s and
President Abdullah Gul’s meetings with President Bush (November 5, 2007, and January 7, 2008,
respectively). As evidence of some calming of the issue, Turkish prime minister Tayyip Recep
Erdogan visited Baghdad in July 2008, and Kurd-Turkey meetings were held in Baghdad on
October 14, 2008.
Tensions began escalating in July 2007 when Barzani indicated that the Iraqi Kurds were capable
of stirring unrest among Turkish Kurds if Turkey interferes in northern Iraq. Previously, less
direct threats by Turkey had prompted the U.S. naming of an envoy to Turkey on this issue in
August 2006 (Gen. Joseph Ralston (ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).
Another emerging dispute is Iran’s shelling of border towns in northern Iraq that Iran says are the
sites where the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), an Iranian Kurdish separatist group, is
staging incursions into Iran. Iran has threatened a ground incursion against PJAK and Iraq said on
September 9, 2007, in remarks directed at Iran and Turkey, that its neighbors should stop
interfering in Iraq’s affairs.
The Bush Administration repeatedly refined its stabilization strategy.39 During 2004-2008, a
major focus of U.S. counter-insurgent (“search and destroy”) combat was Anbar Province, which
39 Previously, Congress has mandated two major periodic Administration reports on progress in stabilizing Iraq. A
Defense Department quarterly report, titled “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” was required by an FY2005
supplemental appropriation (P.L. 109-13), and renewed by the FY2007 Defense Appropriation (P.L. 109-289).
Another report (“1227 Report”), is required by Section 1227 of the Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-
163). As noted above, P.L. 110-28 mandated the July 15, 2007 and September 15, 2007 progress reports on the “troop
surge,” as well as a GAO report due September 1, 2007 and an outside commission report (“Jones Commission”) on
the Iraqi security forces.
includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi (provincial capital), the latter of which was the most
restive of all Iraqi cities and in which the provincial governor’s office was shelled nearly daily
during 2006. In the run-up to the December 15, 2005, elections, U.S. (and Iraqi) forces conducted
several major operations (“Matador,” “Dagger,” “Spear,” “Lightning,” “Sword,” “Hunter,” “Steel
Curtain,” and “Ram”) to clear contingents of insurgents from Sunni cities in Anbar, along the
Euphrates River. None of these operations produced lasting reductions in violence.
Realizing the weakness of its strategy, in its November 2005 “National Strategy for Victory in
Iraq,” the Administration articulated a strategy called “clear, hold, and build,” intended to create
and expand stable enclaves by positioning Iraqi forces and U.S. civilian reconstruction experts in
areas cleared of insurgents. The strategy envisioned that cleared and rebuilt areas would serve as
a model that could expand throughout Iraq. The strategy formed the basis of Operation Together
Forward (I and II) of August-October 2006.
In conjunction with the U.S. strategy, the Administration began forming Provincial
Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), a concept used extensively in Afghanistan. Each PRT in Iraq is
civilian led, composed of about 100 personnel from State Department, USAID, and other
agencies, including contract personnel. The PRTs assist local Iraqi governing institutions, such as
the provincial councils, representatives of the Iraqi provincial governors, and local ministry
representatives. There are now 25 PRTs, of which 11 are embedded with U.S. military
concentrations (Brigade Combat Teams). Of the three partner-run PRTs, Britain maintains one in
Basra, Italy hosts one in Dhi Qar province, and South Korea runs one in Irbil. There are another
four smaller Provincial Support Teams. In December 2007, the PRT in Kirkuk helped broker a
return of Sunni Arabs to the provincial council there; they had been boycotting because of the 40
Kurdish push to control the city.
Acknowledging that the initiatives did not bring security or stability, the President’s January 10,
Arabic for “Imposing Law”) was articulated as intended to bring security to Baghdad and create
conditions under which Iraq’s communities and political leaders can reconcile. The plan, which in
many ways reflects recommendations in a January 2007 report by the American Enterprise 41
Institute entitled “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq,” formally began in February
• The deployment of an additional 28,500 U.S. forces to Iraq—17,500 combat
troops (five brigades) to Baghdad; 4,000 Marines to Anbar Province; and the
40 A FY2006 supplemental appropriation, P.L. 109-234, provided $229 million for the PRT
operations. Another $675 million for development grants to be distributed by the PRTs is funded
through the ESF appropriation for Iraq in this law. A FY2007 supplemental (P.L. 110-28)
provided about $700 million (ESF) for PRT security, operations, and PRT-funded reconstruction
projects. A FY2008 and FY2009 supplemental (P.L. 110-252) makes PRT funding contingent on a
report by the Administration on a “strategy for the eventual winding down and close out of the
PRTs” in Iraq” and related cost estimates for doing so.
41 The two principal authors of the report are Frederick W. Kagan and Jack Keane (General, U.S. Army, ret.).
remainder support troops and military police. The plan envisioned that these
forces, along with additional Iraqi forces, would hold neighborhoods cleared of
insurgents and thereby cause the population to reject militants. The forces have
been based, along with Iraqi soldiers, in 100 fixed locations (both smaller
Combat Outposts and the larger “Joint Security Stations”).
• Cooperation from the Iraqi government, such as progress on the reconciliation
steps discussed earlier, the provision of $10 billion in new capital spending on
reconstruction (benchmark 17), and the commitment of the Iraqi forces discussed
previously 3 brigades (about 6,000 soldiers), plus about 4,000 police commandos
and regular police (benchmark 9).
• Maliki’s cooperation in not standing in the way of U.S. operations against the
JAM. U.S. commanders blamed Maliki for the failure of “Operation Together
Forward I and II” in 2006 because Maliki insisted they release suspected JAM
commanders and dismantle U.S. checkpoints in Sadr City.
Congressional reaction to the troop surge decision was relatively negative. In House action, on
February 16, 2007, the House passed (246-182) a non-binding resolution (H.Con.Res. 63)
expressing opposition to the sending of additional forces to Iraq. However, on February 17, 2007,
the Senate did not vote to close off debate on a version of that resolution (S. 574). Earlier, a
resolution opposing the troop increase (S.Con.Res. 2) was reported out of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee on January 24, 2007 (12-9 vote). A February 1 cloture motion failed.
The first major assessment of the surge was testimony of General Petraeus on September 10 and
11, 2007, in which he said “As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in
large measure, being met.” In testimony on April 8-9, 2008, General Petraeus reported further
progress and said that he had recommended a reduction of U.S. forces by July 2008 to about
145,000 (15 combat brigades), slightly higher than pre-surge levels, with further reductions be
subject to a 45-day assessment of security conditions. The “surge” was declared ended on July 31,
2008. In late August 2008, Gen. Petraeus recommended a drawdown of an additional 8,000 forces
by February 2009—a more cautious drawdown than anticipated—because of concerns: (1) that
violence could flare again as provincial elections approach; (2) that situation in Kirkuk could
erupt; (3) that Sadr’s intentions are uncertain; (4) that the Sons of Iraq fighters could rejoin the
insurgency if they are not integrated into the ISF; and (5) that the newly empowered cooperating
Sunni armed groups could begin battling in earnest with Shiite-dominated ISF forces . President
Bush accepted that recommendation, but Gen. Petraeus later amended the recommendation to
remove the 8,000 forces by the end of 2008. Those forces have now departed.
According to the December 2008 Measuring Stability report and other sources, the surge has:
• Reduced all major violence indicators (numbers of attacks, Iraqi civilian deaths,
and other indicators) by about 63% from the levels of the same period in 2007
(October – December 2008), to the levels of early 2004. Attacks in Baghdad are
down 83% since August 2007.
• Enabled most cities to see a return of normal daily life. U.S. forces are in the
process of closing many of their operating bases in the cities in advance of the
July 1, 2009 deadline to end combat in cities under the SOFA. U.S. forces closed
Camp Fallujah, a major base outside that formerly violent city in Anbar Province,
in January 2009. Gen. Odierno said in December 2008 that some U.S. forces
might remain in established sites in some cities, beyond that date, to train and
mentor Iraqi forces.
• Reduced sectarian killings more than 90% from levels of the same time period in
and some districts formerly written off as AQ-I strongholds, such as Amiriyah,
the former Baathist stronghold of Adhamiyah, and the formerly highly violent
Doura district, are bustling with normal commerce.
No decisions have been announced regarding draw downs beyond those scheduled for the end of
2008, and press reports say that draw down recommendations will be completed by U.S. military
leaders some time in the spring of 2009. Secretary of Defense Gates, who has been re-appointed
by President-elect Obama, has said the Defense Department is looking for ways to accelerate
further draw downs in 2009. President-elect Obama has said, since being elected, that a “residual
presence” of U.S. forces – to continue to train Iraqi forces and protect U.S. personnel—might be
needed beyond the end of 2011 withdrawal completion date stipulated in the SOFA. (That
presence is estimated by experts to possibly require 35,000 – 70,000 forces.) What is not clear is
how the rate of draw down might be affected by any upsurge in violence. Some of the
possibilities are discussed in the sections on “Options,” below.
A key to the rate of U.S. draw down is the quality of the Iraqi security forces (ISF). The Bush
Administration had said that its intent was to gradually transition U.S. forces to an “overwatch”
posture, relying more on supporting Iraqi forces rather than leading the combat. This strategy was
first articulated by President Bush in a June 28, 2005, speech, when he said, “Our strategy can be 42
summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” However, this emphasis on
the ISF was largely reversed subsequently as violence worsened and the Administration judged
that stability required the training and expertise of U.S forces. Responsibility for building the ISF
lies with the commander of the U.S.-led ISF training mission, the Multinational Transition
Security Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I). That is now Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick.
As evidence of ISF maturation and growth, U.S. commanders and others point to the increase in
the number of units capable of operating with minimal coalition support or are in the lead and to
their performance in ongoing combat operations against AQ-I in northern Iraq. Recent Measuring
Stability reports have praised the ISF for growing professionalism and proficiency. U.S. officials
have attributed some of the progress to Interior Minister Jawad Bolani for trying to remove
militiamen and death squad participants from the ISF. Numerous other ISF commanders are said
by U.S. officials to be weeding out sectarian or non-performing elements from ISF and support
ministry ranks. The National Police is now considered more effective and professional, without
its wholesale disbanding and rebuilding that was recommended by the “Jones Commission.” U.S.
officials say the Interior Ministry headquarters has been almost completely transformed and is no
longer factionalized as it was one year ago (mid-2007) or populated with different guard forces.
42 Speech by President Bush can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050628-7.html.
Still, then-MNSTC-I commander Gen. Dubik and the Iraqi Defense Minister both separately
stated in January 2008 that the ISF would not be ready to secure Iraq from internal threats until
2012, and from external threats until 2018-2020, despite the expanding size of the ISF. In
testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on July 9, 2008, Gen. Dubik (rotating
out) shortened that time frame somewhat, saying that the ISF could assume the lead internal
security role between 2009 and 2012. However, the outer edge of that range is beyond the
December 31, 2011 U.S. withdrawal date in the SOFA, suggesting that the SOFA might have to
be renewed or renegotiated if the ISF cannot secure Iraq alone by that time. The Measuring
Stability reports discuss and depict the degrees to which the Iraqi government has assumed
operational ISF control, and of ISF security control over territory. (Recommendations 42, 43 and
44 of the Iraq Study Group report advised an increase in training the ISF, and completion of the
training by early 2008.)
Prior to the signs of progress of the ISF in 2008, the ISF was mostly the subject of criticism.
Some observers had gone so far as to say that the ISF has been part of the security problem in
Iraq, not the solution, because of incidents of ISF member involvement in sectarian involvement
or possible anti-U.S. activity. Still, there are said to be as much as one-third of ISF members
absent-without-leave or might have deserted at any given time. Many units remain unbalanced
ethnically and by sect, and penetrated by militias or even insurgents. Many Sunnis distrust the
ISF as instruments of repression and responsible for sectarian killings.
• According to observers, appointments to senior commands continue to be steered
toward Shiite figures, primarily Da’wa Party members, by Maliki’s “Office of the
Commander-in-Chief” run by his Da’wa subordinate, Dr. Bassima al-Jaidri. She
reportedly has also removed several qualified commanders who are Sunni Arabs,
causing Sunni distrust of the Iraqi military, and she reportedly has routinely
refused to follow U.S. military recommendations to place more Sunnis in
• The about 110,000 members of the “Facilities Protection Force,” (FPS), which
are security guards attached to individual ministries, are involved in sectarian
violence. The United States and Iraq began trying to rein in the force in May
2006 by placing it under some Ministry of Interior guidance, including issuing
badges and supervising what types of weapons it uses. As of August 2008, over
including 22,000 “Oil Police” transferred in January 2008. (In Recommendation
and otherwise control FPS.)
Most observers say the ISF are severely underequipped, dependent primarily on donations of
surplus equipment by coalition members. The Iraqi Army is using mostly East bloc equipment,
including 77 T-72 tanks donated by Poland, but is in the process of taking delivery of 4,200
Humvees from the United States. The United States has sold Iraq under Foreign Military Sales
(FMS) about $4.5 billion worth of equipment thus far. The equipment includes: U.S. munitions,
including upgrades to UH-1 helicopters, and various military vehicles, some of which is for the
Iraqi police; C-130 transport aircraft, M1AI (Abrams) tanks, helicopters, light armored vehicles,
and armored security vehicles. It was reported on September 5, 2008, that Iraq has asked to
purchase 36 F-16 aircraft and that the request is under review under the Foreign Military Sales
process. U.S. officials have previously refused to provide the Iraqi Air Force with combat aircraft,
because of the potential for misuse in sectarian or political conflict.
Press reports in early January 2009 say Iraq plans to buy up to 2,000 retrofitted T-72 tanks from
Eastern European suppliers. The tanks would serve as the core of Iraq’s armored force, which
now has about 149 tanks.
In October 2007, it was reported that Iraq also is ordering $100 million in light equipment from
China to equip the ISF police forces. Iraqi President Talabani said part of the rationale for the
China buy was the slow delivery of U.S. weapons. In October 2008, France said it is considering
arms sales to Iraq, and the European Union reportedly is discussing with Iraq sales of small arms.
(In Recommendation 45, the Iraq Study Group said the United States should encourage the Iraqi
government to accelerate its FMS requests.)
There are fears that some of these weapons are falling into the hands of insurgents, militias, or
terrorist groups. In August 2007, the GAO reported that the Defense Department cannot fully
account for the total of $19.2 billion worth of equipment provided to the ISF by the United States
and partner forces. A New York Times report in August 2007 said some of the ISF weapons might
have gone to anti-Turkish PKK guerrillas.
Table 4. ISF Funding
FY2003 and $5.036 billion allocated from $20+ billion “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund,” see above.
FY2005 $5.7 billion in DOD funds from FY2005 supplemental appropriation (P.L. 109-13).
FY2006 $3 billion appropriated by FY2006 supplemental (P.L. 109-234).
FY2007 Total of $5.54 billion appropriated from: FY2007 defense appropriation (P.L. 109-289)-$1.7 billion; and
from FY2007 supplemental (P.L. 110-28)—$3.84 billion (the requested amount).
FY2008 $3 billion (revised) request. FY2008 regular appropriations (Consolidated, P.L. 110-161) provide $1.5
billion. Second supplemental (P.L. 110-252) provides another $1.5 billion, bringing the FY2008 total to
the Administration request.
FY2009 $2.8 billion request. FY2009 supplemental (P.L. 110-252) provides $1 billion.
Total $23.276 billion provided or appropriated
Table 5. Ministry of Defense Forces
(Figures contained in Iraq Weekly Status Report. Numbers might not correspond to those actually on
Force Size/Strength “Assigned”
Iraqi Army 196,698 assigned. Authorized size is 174,055. Trained for eight weeks, paid $60/month.
Commanders receive higher salaries. 165 total battalions formed; 208 planned. 110 battalions need
minimal U.S. support.
Special 4,150 assigned. Authorized size is 6,190. Technically a separate Counter-terrorism” bureau not
Operations under MOD. Trained for 12 weeks.
Support 22,724 assigned. Authorized level is 22,345
Air Force 2,071. Authorized level is 3,690. Has about 85 total aircraft, including: 9 helicopters, 3 C-130s; 14
observation aircraft. Trying to buy U.S. F-16s. Trained for six months. UAE and Jordan to provide
other aircraft and helos.
Navy 1,898. Authorized level is 3,596. Has a Patrol Boat Squadron and a Coastal Defense Regiment. Fields
about 35 patrol boats for anti-smuggling and anti-infiltration. Controls naval base at Umm Qasr,
Basra port, and Khor al-Amaya oil terminals. Some training by Australian Navy.
Totals 227,541 assigned. 209,876 authorized.
U.S./Other U.S. training, including embedding with Iraqi units (10 per battalion), involves about 4,000 U.S.
Trainers forces, run by Multinational Security Transition Command -Iraq (MNSTC-I). Training at Taji, north
of Baghdad; Kirkush, near Iranian border; and Numaniya, south of Baghdad. All 26 NATO nations at
NATO Training Mission- Iraq (NTM-I) at Rustamiyah (300 trainers). Others trained at NATO bases
in Norway and Italy. Jordan, Germany, and Egypt also have done training.
Table 6. Ministry of Interior Forces
Force/Entity Size/Strength Assigned
Iraqi Police 309,965 assigned. Authorized level is 334,739. Gets eight weeks of training, paid $60 per month.
Service (IPS) Not organized as battalions; deployed in police stations nationwide.
National Police 40,712 assigned. Authorized level is 46,580. Comprises “Police Commandos,” “Public Order
Police,” and “Mechanized Police.” 33 battalions formed. 18 need limited U.S. support.
Overwhelmingly Shiite. Gets four weeks of counter-insurgency training.
Border 40,888 assigned. Authorized level is 45,550. Controls over 250 border positions built or under
Enforcement construction. Has Riverine Police component to secure water crossings. Iraq Study Group
Department (Recommendation 51) proposes transfer to MOD control.
Totals (all MOI 385,565 assigned. 426,869 authorized.
Training Training by 3,000 U.S. and coalition personnel (DOD-lead) as embeds and partners (247 Police
Transition Teams of 10-15 personnel each). Pre-operational training mostly at Jordan
International Police Training Center; Baghdad Police College and seven academies around Iraq;
and in UAE. Iraq Study Group (Recommendation 57) proposes U.S. training at local police
station level. Countries doing training aside from U.S.: Canada, Britain, Australia, Sweden, Poland,
UAE, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany (now suspended), Hungary, Slovenia,
Slovakia, Singapore, Belgium, and Egypt.
Facilities Accounted for separately, they number about 110,000, attached to individual ministries.
Some believe that, partly because of the lack of U.N. approval for the invasion of Iraq, the Bush
Administration was unable to enlist large scale international participation in peacekeeping. With
the security situation and the U.N. mandate for an international coalition now expired, remaining
foreign partners are departing. Under a law passed by the COR in December 2008, remaining
contingents are authorized by Iraq to remain until July 2009. Even before the mandate expired,
many of the non-U.S. force contributions were small and appeared to be mostly intended to
improve relations with the United States. On the other hand, many nations are pledging to
continue training the ISF or to increase force contributions in Afghanistan. A list of contributing
countries has been included in the Department of State’s “Iraq Weekly Status Report,” but was
not included in the first such report of 2009, possibly because non-U.S. contributions are now
only about 5,000 forces and falling.
Substantial partner force drawdowns began with Spain’s May 2004 withdrawal of its 1,300
troops. Spain made that decision following the March 11, 2004, Madrid bombings and subsequent
defeat of the former Spanish government that had supported the war effort. Honduras, the
Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua followed Spain’s withdrawal (900 total personnel), and the
Philippines withdrew in July 2004 after one of its citizens was taken hostage. Among other recent
major drawdowns are:
• Ukraine, which lost eight soldiers in a January 2005 insurgent attack, withdrew
most of its 1,500 forces after the December 2005 Iraqi elections. Bulgaria pulled
out its 360-member unit at that time, but in March 2006 it sent in a 150-person
force to take over guard duties of Camp Ashraf, a base in eastern Iraq where
Iranian oppositionists are held by the coalition. (That contingent was shifted to
Baghdad in July 2008.)
• South Korea began reducing its 3,600 troop contribution to Irbil in northern Iraq
in June 2005, falling to 1,200 by late 2007. The deployment was extended by the
South Korean government until the end of 2008 at a reduced level of 600. They
have now completed their pullout.
• Japan completed its withdrawal of its 600-person military reconstruction
contingent in Samawah on July 12, 2006, but it continued to provide air transport
(and in June 2007 its parliament voted to continue that for another two years).
That air mission has now ended as the U.N. mandate expiration approaches.
• Italy completed its withdrawal (3,200 troops at the peak) in December 2006 after
handing Dhi Qar Province to ISF control.
• In line with a February 21, 2007 announcement, Denmark withdrew its 460
troops from the Basra area.
• In August 2007, Lithuania withdrew its 53 troops.
• In 2007, Georgia increased its Iraq force to 2,000 (from 850) to assist the
policing the Iran-Iraq border at Al Kut, a move that Georgian officials said was
linked to its efforts to obtain NATO membership. However, in August 2008, the
United States airlifted the Georgian troops back home to deal with the Russian
incursion into Georgia. They, and the Kazakh contingent, held a “closeout”
ceremony on October 20, 2008 in Wasit, where they were based.
• Romania withdrew its remaining 500 forces from southern Iraq at the end of
• Poland’s 900 troops (down from a high of 2,600 in 2005) left Iraq in early
December 2008. Poland had led the multinational force based near Diwaniyah
and includes forces from the following foreign countries: Armenia, Slovakia,
Denmark, El Salvador, Ukraine, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Mongolia, and
Kazakhstan. The pullout was announced following the October 2007 election of
Prime Minister Donald Tusk, considered less pro-U.S. than his predecessor.
• On June 1, 2008, in line with announcements by Australia’s Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s 550 person contingent left Iraq. The contingent had
already been reduced from 1,500 troops. In part to compensate, Australia will
provide $160 million in aid to Iraqi farmers, and will keep naval and other forces
in the region, and Australian civilians involved in training the ISF and advising
the Iraqi government will remain.
• El Salvador said on December 11, 2007 that it would continue its 290 soldier
contribution into 2008. It rotated in another contingent of that size in August
• Several other contingents left by the expiration of the U.N. mandate. Tonga, the
Czech Republic, and Azerbaijan held mission close-out ceremonies in early
• Britain, despite its redeployments discussed above, constitute the largest non-
U.S. foreign force in Iraq. In line with plans announced in 2007, British forces
have been reduced from 7,100 to about 4,000, adopting an “overwatch” mission
in southern Iraq. The force was expected to be reduced to about 2,500 by July
2008, but Britain suspended the planned reduction because of the March 2008
Basra combat. British officials now say that a pullout of most of the remaining
force will be completed by May 2009, although with a residual presence to be
left to help train the ISF. Some might go to Afghanistan.
As noted above, all NATO countries have now agreed to train the ISF through the NTM-I, as well
as to contribute funds or equipment. In talks with visiting Prime Minister Maliki in April 2008,
NATO said it would expand the equip and train mission for the ISF. Several NATO countries and
others are offering to also train civilian personnel. In addition to the security training offers
discussed above, European Union (EU) leaders have offered to help train Iraqi police,
administrators, and judges outside Iraq.
In formulating the “troop surge” strategy announced on January 10, 2007, President Bush said he
weighed the December 6, 2006, report of the Iraq Study Group, as well as input from several
other reviews, including one directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and another by the National
Security Council. The incoming Obama Administration is likely to place less emphasis on Iraq
than has the Bush Administration—in part to free up resources for stabilizing Afghanistan.
However, a key question is what the Obama Administration might consider if security in Iraq
deteriorates as the United States reduces its military and political involvement there. For a
comparison of recent legislative proposals on Iraq, see CRS Report RL34172, Operation Iraqi th
Freedom and Detainee Issues: Major Votes from the 110 Congress, by Kim Walker Klarman,
Lisa Mages, and Pat Towell.
The Obama Administration might draw on the Iraq Study Group report, produced in late 2006.
Among the most significant of the 79 recommendations, some of which were discussed
previously and many of which came to be adopted by the Bush Administration, are the 43
• Transition from U.S.-led combat to Iraqi security self-reliance
(Recommendations 40-45), with continued U.S. combat against AQ-I, force
protection, and training and equipping the ISF. The “troop surge” strategy
rejected an early transition to ISF-led combat, but the Bush Administration noted
43 A CRS general distribution memo, available on request, has information on the 79 recommendations and the status of
that the Iraq Study Group expressed support for a temporary surge such as was 44
• Heightened regional and international diplomacy, including with Iran and Syria,
and including the holding of a major international conference in Baghdad
(Recommendations 1-12). After appearing to reject this recommendation, the
Bush Administration later backed a regional diplomatic process, as discussed.
• As part of an international approach, renewed commitment to Arab-Israeli peace
(Recommendations 13-17). This was not a major feature of the President Bush’s
plan, although he implemented stepped up U.S. diplomacy led by Secretary of
State Rice on the issue.
• Additional economic, political, and military support for the stabilization of
Afghanistan (Recommendation 18). This was not specified in President Bush’s
January 10, 2007, plan, although, separately, there have been increases in U.S.
troops and aid for Afghanistan. The Obama Administration is likely to place
significant weight on this recommendation. (See CRS Report RL30588,
Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth
• Setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government to achieve political reconciliation,
security, and governance, including possibly withholding some U.S. support if
the Iraqi government refuses or fails to do so (Recommendations 19-37). The
Bush Administration opposed reducing support for the Iraqi government if it
failed to uphold commitments, but President Bush signed P.L. 110-28, which
linked U.S. economic aid to progress on the benchmarks.
• Giving greater control over police and police commando units to the Iraqi
Ministry of Defense, which is considered less sectarian than the Ministry of
Interior that controls these forces, and reforming the Ministry of Interior
(Recommendations 50-61). Assigning the lead role in advising and training the
anti-crime portions of the police forces to the U.S. Department of Justice. These
recommendations have not been implemented.
• Securing and expanding Iraq’s oil sector (Recommendations 62-63). The Bush
Administration has prodded Iraq to pass the pending oil laws, which would
encourage foreign investment in Iraq’s energy sector.
• Increasing economic aid to Iraq and enlisting more international donations of
assistance (Recommendations 64-67). President Bush’s 2007 security plan
increased aid, as discussed above, although U.S. aid is now being reduced
because of large projected Iraqi surpluses.
In the 110th Congress, an amendment to H.R. 2764, the FY2008 foreign aid bill, would have
revived the Iraq Study Group (providing $1 million for its operations) to help assess future policy
44 Full text of the report is at http://www.usip.org. The Iraq Study Group itself was launched in March 2006; chosen by
mutual agreement among its congressional organizers to co-chair were former Secretary of State James Baker and
former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton. The eight other members of the
Group are from both parties and have held high positions in government. The group was funded by the conference
report on P.L. 109-234, FY2006 supplemental, which provided $1 million to the U.S. Institute of Peace for operations
of the group.
after the “troop surge.” The provision was not incorporated into the Consolidated appropriation
(P.L. 110-161). In the Senate, some Senators from both parties in June 2007 proposed legislation
(S. 1545) to adopt the recommendations of the Group as U.S. policy.
The sections below discuss options that have been under discussion even before the report of the
Iraq Study Group, the troop surge, or the recently completed U.S. presidential campaign.
Some argued that the “surge” was too limited—concentrated mainly in Baghdad and Anbar—and
that the United States should have increased troops levels in Iraq even further to prevent Sunni
insurgents from re-infiltrating cleared areas. This option faded during 2008 because of progress
produced by the surge, and virtually no expert or official argues for this option at this time.
However, President-elect Obama might revisit this question if security deteriorates sharply as
U.S. troops in Iraq thin out.
The Bush Administration consistently opposed this option, arguing that the ISF are not ready to
secure Iraq alone and that doing so would result in full-scale civil war, possible collapse of the
elected Iraqi government, revival of AQ-I activities, emboldening of Al Qaeda more generally,
and increased involvement of regional powers in the fighting in Iraq. Supporters of the Bush
Administration position said that Al Qaeda terrorists might “follow us home”—conduct attacks in
the United States—if there were a rapid withdrawal. President-elect Obama argued for a draw-
down of combat troops over sixteen months, not an immediate withdrawal, and he has said a
residual U.S. presence might be needed thereafter.
Some Members might press President-elect Obama for a rapid withdrawal by saying that the
decision to invade Iraq was a mistake, that the large U.S. presence in Iraq could reignite the
insurgency, and that U.S. forces are still policing a civil war. Those who supported an immediate
withdrawal include most of the approximately 70 Members of the “Out of Iraq Congressional th
Caucus,” formed in June 2005. In the 110 Congress, some legislation (H.R. 508 and H.R. 413)
would repeal the original war authorization.
In the 109th Congress, Representative John Murtha, ranking member (now chairman) of the
Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced a resolution (H.J.Res. 73) calling for a U.S.
withdrawal “at the earliest practicable date” and the maintenance of an “over the horizon” U.S.
presence, mostly in Kuwait, from which U.S. forces could continue to battle AQ-I. A related
resolution, H.Res. 571 (written by Representative Duncan Hunter, then chairman of the House
Armed Services Committee), expressed the sense “that the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq be
terminated immediately;” it failed 403-3 on November 18, 2005. Representative Murtha th
introduced a similar bill in the 110 Congress (H.J.Res. 18); a few other bills (S. 121, H.Res. 445
and H.R. 645) contain similar provisions.
The Bush Administration had long opposed mandating a withdrawal timetable on the grounds that
doing so would allow insurgents to “wait out” a U.S. withdrawal. The Iraq Study Group
suggested winding down of the U.S. combat mission by early 2008 but did not recommend a firm
timetable. Forms of this option exhibited some support in Congress. Iraqi leaders also long
opposed a timetable, but their growing confidence caused Maliki to negotiate a relatively firm
withdrawal timetable in the SOFA.
President-elect Obama has not disavowed campaign statements that he would seek to withdraw
U.S. combat brigades (not all U.S. forces) within 16 months of taking office. This is a faster pace
than that required by the SOFA—although he has said since the election that the views of military
commanders would be taken into account.
Various legislation to require a U.S. withdrawal timetable did not become law. A binding
provision of a FY2007 supplemental appropriations legislation (H.R. 1591) required the
president, as a condition of maintaining U.S. forces in Iraq, to certify (by July 1, 2007) that Iraq
had made progress toward several political reconciliation benchmarks, and by October 1, 2007
that the benchmarks have been met. Even if the requirements were met, the amendment would
require the start of a redeployment from Iraq by March 1, 2008, to be completed by September 1,
2008. The bill passed the House on March 23, 2007. The Senate-passed version of H.R. 1591 set
a non-binding goal for U.S. withdrawal of March 1, 2008. The conference report retained the
benchmark certification requirement and the same dates for the start of a withdrawal but made the
completion of any withdrawal (by March 31, 2008, not September 1, 2008) a goal rather than a
firm deadline. President Bush vetoed the conference report on May 1, 2007, and the veto was
sustained. The revised provision in the FY2007 supplemental (P.L. 110-28) was discussed
A House bill, (H.R. 2956), which mandates a beginning of withdrawal within 120 days and
completion by April 1, 2008, was adopted on July 12, 2007 by a vote of 223-201. A proposed
amendment (S.Amdt. 2087) to H.R. 1585 contained a similar provision. A Senate bill (S. 433,
would set a deadline for withdrawing combat troops by March 31, 2008.
On November 13, 2007, some in Congress revived the idea, in an FY2008 supplemental
appropriation (H.R. 4156), of setting a target date (December 15, 2008) for a U.S. withdrawal,
except for force protection and “counter-terrorism” operations. The bill would require the
withdrawal to start within 30 days of enactment. The bill passed the House but cloture was not
invoked in the Senate. The debate over a timetable for withdrawal continued in consideration of a
FY2008 supplemental appropriation, but was not included in the enacted version (P.L. 110-252).
In the 109th Congress, the timetable issue was debated extensively. In November 2005, Senator
Levin introduced an amendment to S. 1042 (FY2006 defense authorization bill) to compel the
Administration to work on a timetable for withdrawal during 2006. Then-Chairman of the Senate
Armed Services Committee John Warner subsequently submitted a related amendment that
stopped short of setting a timetable for withdrawal but required an Administration report on a
“schedule for meeting conditions” that could permit a U.S. withdrawal. That measure, which also
stated in its preamble that “2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi
sovereignty,” achieved bi-partisan support, passing 79-19. It was incorporated, with only slight
modifications by House conferees, in the conference report on the bill (H.Rept. 109-360, P.L.
defense authorization bill (S. 2766). One, offered by Senator Kerry, setting a July 1, 2007,
deadline for U.S. redeployment from Iraq, was defeated 86-13. Another, sponsored by Senator
Levin, called on the Administration to begin redeployment out of Iraq by the end of 2006, but
with no deadline for full withdrawal. It was defeated 60-39.
Some have long argued that the United States should not be policing Iraqi cities and should
instead scale back its mission to: (1) operations against AQ-I; (2) an end to active patrolling of
Iraqi streets; (3) force protection; and (4) training the ISF. This option appears to be encapsulated
in President-elect Obama’s discussion of a “residual presence” of U.S. troops beyond the end of
2011. The rationale for the mission change has been to maintain a U.S. presence, possibly long
term, to assist the ISF and protect a re-grouping of AQ-I but without incurring large U.S.
casualties. As of mid-2008, the Bush Administration argued that improving security conditions
have permitted the U.S. mission to be reduced gradually to an “overwatch” posture focused on
supporting and training Iraqi forces rather than taking the lead on combat operations. The mission
change idea is partly incorporated into the SOFA, which requires U.S. forces to pull out of Iraqi
urban areas by June 30, 2009. As noted above, 13 provinces have already been handed over to
Provincial Iraqi Control.
A press report in June 2007 (Washington Post, June 10, 2007) said that the scaled-back mission
described above might require retaining about 50,000-60,000 U.S. forces. Of these forces, about
20,000 would be assigned to guarantee the security of the Iraqi government or assist the ISF if it
is having difficulty in battle. A change of mission was proposed by several Senators for
consideration of the FY2008 defense authorization (H.R. 1585), but was not in the conference
report on the bill.
In 2007, some Members maintained that the Administration should plan for a withdrawal if one
were decided. Administration officials said they would not publicly discuss the existence or form
of such planning because doing so would undermine current policy. However, Secretary Gates
toured facilities in Kuwait in August 2007 in what was reported as an effort to become familiar
with the capabilities of the U.S. military to carry out a redeployment. Senator Hillary Clinton
reportedly was briefed on August 2, 2007 by Defense Department officials on the status of
planning for a withdrawal, and she and several others introduced legislation on August 2, 2007 (S.
1950), to require contingency planning for withdrawal. In the House, H.R. 3087 (passed by the
House on October 2, 2007 by a vote of 377-46) would require the Administration to give
Congress a plan for redeployment from Iraq.
Some Members who favored at least a partial pullout did so on the grounds that the Iraq effort
was placing too much strain on the U.S. military. A Senate amendment to H.R. 1585, requiring
more time between deployments to Iraq, was not agreed to on September 19, 2007 because it only
received 56 affirmative votes, not the needed 60 for passage. A similar House bill, H.R. 3159, was
passed in the House on August 2, 2007 by a vote of 229-194.
As noted above, many of the Iraq Study Group recommendations proposed increased regional and
international diplomacy. One idea, included in the Study Group report, was to form a “contact
group” of major countries and Iraqi neighbors to prevail on Iraq’s factions to compromise. The
Bush Administration took significant steps in this direction, including the multilateral and
bilateral meetings on Iraq discussed above. Some experts expect the Obama Administration to
continue this trend, possibly including stepped-up engagement with Iran to try to ensure Iran does
not exert excessive influence over Iraq as U.S. combat involvement is reduced.
In the 110th Congress, a few bills (H.R. 744, H.Con.Res. 43, and H.Con.Res. 45) support the Iraq th
Study Group recommendation for an international conference on Iraq. In the 109 Congress,
these ideas were included in several resolutions, including S.J.Res. 36, S.Res. 470, S.J.Res. 33,
and S. 1993, although several of these bills also include provisions for timetables for a U.S.
Other ideas involved recruitment of new force donors. In July 2004, then-Secretary of State
Powell said the United States would consider a Saudi proposal for a contingent of troops from
Muslim countries to perform peacekeeping in Iraq, reportedly under separate command. Some
Iraqi leaders believed that such peacekeepers would come from Sunni Muslim states and would
inevitably favor Sunni factions within Iraq. With international partners now departing, such ideas
are not widely discussed among experts.
Another idea has been to identify a high-level international mediator to negotiate with Iraq’s
major factions. Some Members of Congress wrote to President Bush in November 2006 asking
that he name a special envoy to Iraq to follow up on some of the Administration’s efforts to
promote political reconciliation in Iraq. This proposal faded as security stabilized in 2008.
Some experts say that Iraq’s legislative achievements and security improvements have not
produced lasting political reconciliation and that, at some point, Iraq will again see high levels of
violence. Were that to occur, some might argue that the Obama Administration will need to
overhaul the political structure to create durable political reconciliation.
Some believe that the existing Iraqi government should be reorganized by the United States to be
more inclusive of resentful groups, particularly the Sunni Arabs. However, there is little
agreement on what additional or alternative incentives, if any, would persuade Sunnis leaders and
their constituents to fully support a government that is headed by Shiites. Sunni resentment is
unlikely to ease because Shiite domination is likely to continue following the scheduled late 2009
national elections for a new National Assembly.
Some believe that Sunnis might be satisfied by a wholesale cabinet/governmental reshuffle,
subsequent to those elections, that gives several leading positions, such as that of President, to a
Sunni Arab, although many Kurds might resent such a move because a Kurd now holds that post.
The ability of the U.S. to determine the post- election power structure might be limited, even if
there were a decision by President-elect Obama to try to do so. Some maintain that Sunni
grievances can be addressed in the Constitutional Review process under way. Others opposed
major U.S.-led governmental change because doing so might necessitate the voiding of the 2005
elections, a move that would appear un-democratic.
Some argue that Iraq could adopt the “Lebanon model” in which major positions are formally
allotted to representatives of major factions. For example, Iraqis might agree that henceforth, the
President might be a Sunni, the Prime Minister might be Shiite, and the COR Speaker might be
Kurdish, or some combination of these allocations. Some believe such as system has worked
relatively well in Lebanon helping it avoid all out civil war since the late 1980s, although others
argue that Lebanon is perpetually unstable and that this model is not necessarily successful.
Another view expressed by some is that the United States should place all its political, military,
and economic support behind the mainstream Shiite and Kurdish factions that have all along been
the most supportive of the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam and which dominate Iraq’s government.
According to this view, sometimes referred to as the “80% solution” (Shiites and Kurds are about 45
80% of the population), most Sunni Arabs will never fully accept the new order in Iraq and the
United States should cease trying to pressure the Shiites and Arabs to try to satisfy them.
Opponents of this strategy say that it is no longer needed because Sunnis have now begun
cooperating with the United States, and are beginning to reconcile with the Shiites and Kurds.
Others say this is unworkable because the Shiites have now fractured, and the United States now
supports one group of Shiites against another—the Sadrists and their allies. These factors
demonstrate, according to those with this view, that it is possible to build a multi-sectarian multi-
ethnic government in Iraq. Others say that Iraq’s Sunni neighbors will not accept a complete U.S.
tilt toward the Shiites and Kurds, which would likely result in even further repression of the
Sunni Arab minority. Still others say that a further U.S. shift in favor of the Shiites and Kurds
would contradict the U.S. commitment to the protection of Iraq’s minorities.
Some maintain that Iraq cannot be stabilized as one country and should be broken up, or “hard 46
partitioned,” into three separate countries: one Kurdish, one Sunni Arab, and one Shiite Arab.
This option is widely opposed by a broad range of Iraqi parties as likely to produce substantial
violence as Iraq’s major communities separate physically, and that the resulting three countries
would be unstable and too small to survive without domination by Iraq’s neighbors. Others view
this as a U.S. attempt not only to usurp Iraq’s sovereignty but to divide the Arab world and
thereby enhance U.S. regional domination. Still others view any version of this idea, including the
less dramatic derivations discussed below, as unworkable because of the high percentage of
mixed Sunni-Shiite Arab families in Iraq that some say would require “dividing bedrooms.” This
recommendation was rejected by the Iraq Study Group as potentially too violent.
45 Krauthammer, Charles. “The 20 Percent Solution.” Washington Post op-ed, July 20, 2007.
46 The pros and cons of some of these plans and proposals is discussed in Cordesman, Anthony. Pandora’s Box: Iraqi
Federalism, Separatism, “Hard” Partitioning, and U.S. Policy. Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 9,
A derivation of the partition idea, propounded by Senator (now Vice President-elect) Joseph
Biden and Council on Foreign Relations expert Leslie Gelb (May 1, 2006, New York Times op-
ed), as well as others, is form—or to not prevent Iraqis from forming—three autonomous regions,
dominated by each of the major communities. A former U.S. Ambassador and adviser to the 47
Kurds, Peter Galbraith, as well as others, advocates this option, which some refer to as a “soft
partition,” but which supporters of the plan say is implementation of the federalism already
enshrined in Iraq’s constitution. According to this view, decentralizing Iraq into autonomous
zones would ensure that Iraq’s territorial integrity is preserved while ensuring that these
communities do not enter all-out civil war with each other. Others say that decentralization is
already de-facto U.S. policy as exhibited by the increasing transfer of authority to Sunni tribes in
the Sunni areas and the relative lack of U.S. troops in the Shiite south, and that formalizing the
policy would merely confirm the existing direction of U.S. policy and of events on the ground in
Iraq. Others say that the Sunni Arabs, who initially opposed federalism in the constitution, now
are reconsidering that view and might even want to form their own autonomous Sunni region.
The idea has been tested since April 2008 when the voluntarily moratorium ended on forming
new regions, agreed in October 2006 by the major factions when the regions law was adopted.
Only in Basra has there been a substantial move to form a new region. Some believe that popular
Shiite support for ISCI’s drive to form a major Shiite region in southern Iraq, spanning as many
as nine provinces, has faded since the regions law was passed, in part because of the Iraqi
resentment of Iranian influence in the south.
Proponents of the idea say that options such as this were successful in other cases, particularly in
the Balkans, in alleviating sectarian conflict. Proponents add that the idea is a means of bypassing
the logjam and inability to reconcile that characterizes national politics in Iraq. Some believe that,
to alleviate Iraqi concerns about equitable distribution of oil revenues, an international
organization should be tapped to distribute Iraq’s oil revenues.
Opponents of the idea say it was proposed for expediency—to allow the United States to
withdraw from Iraq without establishing a unified and strong central government that can defend
itself. Still others say the idea does not take sufficient account of Iraq’s sense of Iraq national
identity, which, despite all difficulties, is still expressed to a wide range of observers and visitors.
Others maintain that any soft partition of Iraq would inevitably evolve into drives by the major
communities for outright independence. Observers in the Balkans say that the international
community had initially planned to preserve a central government of what was Yugoslavia, but 48
that this became untenable and Yugoslavia was broken up into several countries. Others say,
drawing some support from recent events between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, that the
autonomous regions of a decentralized Iraq would inevitably fall under the sway of Iraq’s
neighbors. Still others say that, no matter how the concept is implemented, there will be
substantial bloodshed as populations move into areas where their sect or group predominates.
The federalism, or decentralization, plan gained strength with the passage of on September 26,
2007, of an amendment to the Senate version of H.R. 4986 (P.L. 110-181), an FY2008 defense
authorization bill. The amendment passed 75-23 (to H.R. 1585, the original version that was
vetoed over other issues), showing substantial bipartisan support. It is a “sense of Congress” that
47 Joseph, Edward and Michael O’Hanlon. “The Case for Soft Partition.” USA Today, October 3, 2007.
48 CRS conversations in Croatia, October 2007.
• The United States should actively support a political settlement, based on the
“final provisions” of the Iraqi constitution (reflecting the possibility of major
amendments, to the constitution, as discussed above), that creates a federal Iraq
and allows for federal regions.
• A conference of Iraqis should be convened to reach a comprehensive political
settlement based on the federalism law approved by the COR in October 2006.
• The amendment does not specify how many regions should be formed or that
regions would correspond to geographic areas controlled by major Iraqi
ethnicities or sects.
Subsequently, with the exception of the Kurds and some other Iraqi Arab officials, many of the
main blocs in Iraq, jointly and separately, came out in opposition to the amendment on some of
the grounds discussed above, although many of the Iraqi statements appeared to refer to the
amendment as a “partition” plan, an interpretation that proponents of the amendment say is
inaccurate. A U.S. Embassy Iraq statement on the amendment also appeared to mischaracterize
the legislation, saying “As we have said in the past, attempts to partition or divide Iraq by
intimidation, force, or other means into three separate states would produce extraordinary
suffering and bloodshed. The United States has made clear our strong opposition to such
Another option that received substantial discussion in 2007, a time of significant U.S. criticism of
Maliki’s failure to achieve substantial reconciliation, is for the United States to oust Maliki, either
through force or by influencing the COR to vote no confidence in his government. Some believe
Maliki should be replaced by a military strongman or some other figure who would crack down
on militias, or someone who is more inclined to reach compromise with the restive Sunni Arabs.
This option could imply that the United States might express support for those parliamentary
blocs reportedly considering trying to oust Maliki. Some say former Prime Minister Allawi still is
trying to position himself as an alternative figure, claiming that his term in office was
characterized by non-sectarianism and a focus on enforcement of law. However, experts in the
United States see no concrete signs that such an option might be under consideration by the Bush
Administration or by President-elect Obama. Using U.S. influence to force out Maliki would, in
the view of many, conflict with the U.S. goal of promoting democracy and rule of law in Iraq.
Some believe that the key to continuing to calm Iraq is to accelerate economic reconstruction.
Accelerated reconstruction could, in this view, drain support for insurgents by creating
employment, improving public services, and creating confidence in the government. This idea,
propounded by DOD reconstruction official Paul Brinkley (Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for
Business Transformation in Iraq), was incorporated into the President’s January 10, 2007,
initiative, in part by attempting to revive state-owned factories that can employ substantial
numbers of Iraqis. Prior to that, the concept of using economic reconstruction to drive political
accommodation was reflected in the decision to form PRTs, as discussed above. Others doubt that
economic improvement alone will produce major political results because the differences among
Iraq’s major communities are fundamental and resistant to economic solutions. Another idea has
been to set up an Iraqi fund, or trust, that would ensure that all Iraqis share equitably in Iraq’s oil
wealth. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (December 18, 2006) Senator Hillary Rodham
Clinton and Senator John Ensign supported the idea of an “Iraq Oil Trust” modeled on the Alaska
Permanent Fund. The two put this idea forward in legislation on September 11, 2008 (S. 3470).
Many Members believe that Iraq, now flush with oil revenues and unspent assets, should now
begin assuming more of the financial burden for Iraq and that the United States should sharply cut
back reconstruction and security funding for Iraq. Some Members advocate that any or all U.S.
reconstruction funding for Iraq be provided as loan, not grant. A similar provision to make about
half of the $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds in the FY2004 supplemental (P.L. 106-108),
discussed above, was narrowly defeated (October 16, 2003, amendment defeated 226-200). A
provision of the FY2009 defense authorization (P.L. 110-417) calls for U.S.-Iraq negotiations for
Iraq to defray some U.S. combat costs, a provision to which the Administration took exception in
its signing statement on the bill. The Administration argues that Iraq is already assuming more of
the burden. For example, Iraqi increases in its own security funds allowed the Administration to
reduce its FY2009 request for ISF funding to $2.8 billion, from an otherwise $5 billion.
Table 7. Major Factions in Iraq
Major Shiite and Kurdish Factions
Iraq National Accord The INA is now a secular bloc (Iraqis List) in parliament. Allawi, about 62 years old (born
(INA)/Iyad al-Allawi 1946 in Baghdad), a former Baathist who helped Saddam silence Iraqi dissidents in Europe
in the mid-1970s. Subsequently fell out with Saddam, became a neurologist, and presided
over the Iraqi Student Union in Europe. Survived an alleged regime assassination attempt
in London in 1978. He is a secular Shiite, but many INA members are Sunni ex-Baathists
and ex-military officers. Allawi was interim Prime Minister (June 2004-April 2005). Won
40 seats in January 2005 election but only 25 in December 2005. Spends most of his time
outside Iraq and reportedly trying to organize a non-sectarian parliamentary governing
coalition to replace Maliki. Still boycotting the cabinet.
Iraqi National Congress Chalabi, who is about 67 years old, educated in the United States (Massachusetts Institute
(INC)/Ahmad Chalabi of Technology) as a mathematician. His father was president of the Senate in the
monarchy that was overthrown in the 1958 military coup, and the family fled to Jordan.
Taught math at the American University of Beirut in 1977 and, in 1978, he founded the
Petra Bank in Jordan. He later ran afoul of Jordanian authorities on charges of
embezzlement and he left Jordan, possibly with some help from members of Jordan’s royal
family, in 1989. In April 1992, was convicted in absentia of embezzling $70 million from
the bank and sentenced to 22 years in prison. One of the rotating presidents of the Iraq
Governing Council (IGC). U.S.-backed Iraqi police raided INC headquarters in Baghdad on
May 20, 2004, seizing documents as part of an investigation of various allegations, including
provision of U.S. intelligence to Iran. Case later dropped. Since 2004, has allied with and
fallen out with Shiite Islamist factions; was one of three deputy prime ministers in the
2005 transition government. No INC seats in parliament, but has chaired Higher National
De-Baathification Commission prior to passage of law to reform that process and resisted
de-Baathification reform efforts. Now serves as liaison between Baghdad neighborhood
committees and the government in attempting to improve public services, giving him
entree to senior U.S. military and diplomatic officials, leading to assessments that he is
rebuilding his influence. Survived assassination attempt on convoy on September 6, 2008.
Kurds/KDP and PUK Together, the main factions run Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with its own
executive headed by “president” Masud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, and a
111 seat legislature (elected in January 30, 2005 national elections). PUK leader Talabani
remains president, despite March 2007 health problems that required treatment in Jordan
and the United States. Barzani has tried to secure his clan’s base in the Kurdish north and
has distanced himself from national politics. Many Kurds are more supportive of outright
Kurdish independence than are these leaders. Kurds field up to 100,000 peshmerga militia.
Their joint slate won 75 seats in January 2005 national election but only 53 in December
2005. Grudgingly supported framework draft oil law sent to parliament, but strongly
oppose related draft implementing law that would place 93% of Iraq’s oil fields under
control of a revived Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC). Both factions intent on securing
control of Kirkuk.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Undisputed leading Shiite theologian in Iraq. About 87 years old, he was born in Iran and
studied in Qom, Iran, before relocating to Najaf at the age of 21. No formal position in
government but has used his broad Shiite popularity to become instrumental in major
political questions. Helped forge UIA and brokered compromise over the selection of a
Prime Minister nominee in April 2006. Criticized Israel’s July 2006 offensive against
Lebanese Hezbollah. However, acknowledges that his influence is waning and that calls for
Shiite restraint are unheeded as Shiites look to militias, such as Sadr’s, for defense in
sectarian warfare. Does not meet with U.S. officials but does meet with U.N. Assistance
Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). Has network of agents (wakils) throughout Iraq and among
Shiites outside Iraq. Treated for heart trouble in Britain in August 2004 and reportedly has
reduced his schedule in early 2008. Advocates traditional Islamic practices such as modest
dress for women, abstention from alcohol, and curbs on Western music and
Supreme Islamic Council of Best-organized and most pro-Iranian Shiite Islamist party and generally allied with Da’wa
(ISCI) Party in UIA. It was established in 1982 by Tehran to centralize Shiite Islamist movements
in Iraq. First leader, Mohammad Baqr Al Hakim, killed by bomb in Najaf in August 2003.
Current leader is his younger brother, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, a lower ranking Shiite cleric
and a member of parliament (UIA slate), but he holds no government position. Hakim
currently undergoing lung cancer treatment, instilling uncertainty in ISCI leadership. One
of his top aides, Bayan Jabr, is now Finance Minister, and another, Adel Abd al-Mahdi, is a
deputy president. Controls “Badr Brigades” militia. Son, Ammar al-Hakim, is a key ISCI
figure as well and is said to be favored to take over ISCI should his father’s condition
become fatal. As part of UIA, ISCI has 29 members in parliament. Supports formation of
Shiite “region” composed of nine southern provinces and dominates provincial councils on
seven of those provinces. Supports draft oil law to develop the oil sector, and broad
defense pact with the United States. Party reportedly more popular in the wake of Sadr
faction defeat in Basra in spring 2008.
Da’wa (Islamic Call) Party Oldest organized Shiite Islamist party (founded 1957), active against Saddam Hussein in
early 1980s. Its founder, Mohammad Baqr al-Sadr, uncle of Moqtada Al Sadr, was ally of
Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini and was hung by Saddam regime in 1980. Da’wa members tend
to follow senior Lebanese Shiite cleric Mohammad Hossein Fadlallah rather than Iranian
clerics, and Da’wa is not as close to Tehran as is ISCI. Has no organized militia and a
lower proportion of clerics than does ISCI. Within UIA, its two factions (one loyal to
Maliki and one loyal to another figure, parliamentarian Abd al-Karim al-Anizi, control 25
seats in parliament. Da’wa generally supports draft oil law and defense pact with U.S.
Previous leader Ibrahim al-Jafari left the party in June 2008 and formed his own
movement. The Kuwaiti branch of the Da’wa allegedly committed a May 1985 attempted
assassination of the Amir of Kuwait and the December 1983 attacks on the U.S. and
French embassies in Kuwait. (It was reported in February 2007 that a UIA/Da’wa
parliamentarian, Jamal al-Ibrahimi, was convicted by Kuwait for the 1983 attacks.)
Lebanese Hezbollah, founded by Lebanese Da’wa activists, attempted to link release of the
Americans they held hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s to the release of 17 Da’wa
prisoners held by Kuwait for those attacks in the 1980s.
Moqtada Al-Sadr Faction See text box above.
Fadilah Party Loyal to Ayatollah Mohammad Yacoubi, who was a leader of the Sadr movement after the
death of Moqtada’s father in 1999 but was later removed by Moqtada and subsequently
broke with the Sadr faction. Fadilah (Virtue) won 15 seats parliament as part of the UIA
but publicly left that bloc on March 6, 2007 to protest lack of a Fadilah cabinet seat. Holds
seats on several provincial councils in the Shiite provinces and dominates Basra provincial
council, whose governor, Mohammad Waeli, is a party member. Also controls protection
force for oil installations in Basra, and is popular among oil workers and unions in Basra.
Opposes draft oil law as too favorable to foreign firms. Considers itself opposed to Iranian
influence in Iraq and wants a small (one - three provinces) Shiite region in the south.
Instrumental in Basra petition to form a province.
Hezbollah Iraq Headed by ex-guerrilla leader Abdul Karim Muhammadawi, who was on the IGC and now
in parliament. Party’s power base is southern marsh areas around Amara (Maysan
Province), north of Basra. Has some militiamen. Supports a less formal version of Shiite
region in the south than does ISCI.
Tharallah Led by Sayyid Yusuf al-Musawi. Small Shiite faction in southern Iraq formed from former
marsh guerrillas against Saddam. Purportedly pro-Iranian.
Islamic Amal A relatively small faction, Islamic Amal (Action) Organization is headed by Ayatollah
Mohammed Taqi Modarassi, a moderate cleric. Power base is in Karbala, and it conducted
attacks there against Saddam regime in the 1980s. Modarassi’s brother, Abd al-Hadi,
headed the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, which stirred Shiite unrest against
Bahrain’s regime in the 1980s and 1990s. One member in the cabinet (Minister of Civil
Ayatollah Hassani Faction Another Karbala-based faction, loyal to Ayatollah Mahmoud al-Hassani, who also was a
Sadrist leader later removed by Moqtada. His armed followers clashed with local Iraqi
security forces in Karbala in mid-August 2006.
Major Sunni Factions
Iraqi Accord Front Often referred to by Arabic name “Tawafuq,” the Accord Front is led by Iraqi Islamic
(Tariq al-Hashimi and Party (IIP), headed by Tariq al-Hashimi, now a deputy president. C OR Speaker Mahmoud Mashadani, a hardliner, is a senior member; in July 2006, he called the U.S. invasion “the
Adnan al-Dulaymi) work of butchers.” IIP withdrew from the January 2005 election but led the Sunni
“Accord front” coalition in December 2005 elections, winning 44 seats in COR. Front,
critical but accepting of U.S. presence, also includes Iraqi General People’s Council of the
hardline Adnan al-Dulaymi, and the National Dialogue Council (Mashhadani’s party).
Opposes draft oil law as sellout to foreign companies and distrusts Shiite pledges to
equitably share oil revenues. Pulled five cabinet ministers out of government on August 1,
2007 but Hashimi stayed deputy president. Now has rejoined the cabinet. Dulaymi widely
accused by Shiite Iraqi leaders of hiding weapons for Sunni insurgents, using properties
owned by himself and his son. The IIP suspended talks with U.S. forces in October 2008 in
response to a U.S. killing of one of its members in an Anbar operation. Grudgingly
supports SOFA but wants side pledges on governmental treatment of Sunnis.
Iraqi Front for National Head is Saleh al-Mutlak, an ex-Baathist, was chief negotiator for Sunnis on the new
Dialogue constitution, but was dissatisfied with the outcome and now advocates major revisions.
Bloc holds 11 seats, generally aligned with Accord front. Opposes draft oil law on same
grounds as Accord front, and has similar position on SOFA to Accord Front.
Muslim Scholars Association Hardline Sunni Islamist group led by clerics Harith al-Dhari and Abd al-Salam al-Qubaysi,
(MSA) has boycotted all post-Saddam elections. Believed to have ties to/influence over insurgent factions. Wants timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Iraqi government issued a
warrant for Dhari’s arrest in November 2006 for suspected ties to the Sunni insurgency,
causing Dhari to remain outside Iraq (in Jordan). Headquarters raided at behest of pro-
government Sunni Endowment organization in November 2007. Opposes draft oil law and
U.S. defense pact.
Sunni Tribes/ “Awakening Not an organized faction per se, but begun in Anbar by about 20 tribes, the National
Movement”/ “Sons of Iraq” Salvation Council formed by Shaykh Abd al-Sattar al-Rishawi (assassinated on September
13) credited by U.S. commanders as a source of anti-Al Qaeda support that is helping
calm Anbar Province. Some large tribal confederations include Dulaym (Ramadi-based),
Jabburi (mixed Sunni-Shiite tribe), Zobi (near Abu Ghraib), and Shammar (Salahuddin and
Diyala regions). Trend has spread to include former Sunni insurgents now serving as local
anti-Al Qaeda protection forces in Baghdad, parts of Diyala province, Salahuddin province,
and elsewhere. Generally supportive of SOFA with U.S.
Iraqi Insurgents Numerous factions and no unified leadership. Some groups led by ex-Saddam regime
leaders, others by Islamic extremists. Major Iraqi factions include Islamic Army of Iraq,
New Baath Party, Muhammad’s Army, and the 1920 Revolution Brigades. Perceived as
increasingly opposed to AQ-I.
Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQ-I) / AQ-I was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian national, until his death in U.S.
Foreign Fighters airstrike June 7, 2006. Succeeded by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (Abu Ayyub al-Masri), an
Egyptian. Estimated 3,000 in Iraq (about 10-15% of total insurgents) from many nations,
including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but increasingly subordinate to Iraqi Sunni insurgents
under the banner of the “Islamic State of Iraq.” See CRS Report RL32217, Al Qaeda in Iraq:
Assessment and Outside Links, by Kenneth Katzman.
Table 8. Iraq’s Government
Position Name Ethnicity/Bloc/Party Status
President Jalal Talabani Kurd/PUK
Deputy President Tariq al-Hashimi Sunni/Accord front
Deputy President Adel Abd-al-Mahdi Shiite/UIA/ISCI
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki Shiite/UIA/Da’wa
Deputy P.M. Barham Salih Kurdistan Alliance/PUK
Deputy P.M. Rafi al-Issawi Sunni/Accord front
Min. Agriculture Ali al-Bahadili independent Shiite named in October 2007,
replaced resigned Sadrist
Min. Communications Faruq Abd al-Rahman Accord Front
Min. Culture Mahir al-Hadithi Accord Front
Min. Defense Abdul Qadir al-Ubaydi Sunni independent
Min. Displacement and Abd al-Samad Sultan Shiite Kurd/UIA
Min. Electricity Karim Wahid Shiite/UIA/independent
Min. Education Khudayiir al-Khuzai Shiite/UIA/Da’wa (Anizi faction)
Min Environment Mrs. Narmin Uthman Kurdistan Alliance/PUK
Min. Finance Bayan Jabr Shiite/UIA/ISCI
Min. Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari Kurdistan Alliance/KDP
Min. Health Saleh al-Hasnawi Independent Shiite named October 2007; was
held by UIA/Sadr bloc.
Min. Higher Education Dr. Abd Dhiyab al-Ujayli Accord Front/IIP
Min. Human Rights Mrs. Wijdan Mikhail Christian/Allawi bloc/boycotting
Min. Industry and Minerals Fawzi al-Hariri Christian Kurd/Kurdistan Alliance/KDP
Min. Interior Jawad al-Bulani Shiite independent
Min. Justice Safa al-Safi UIA/independent/acting. Was held by Hashim
al-Shibli (Accord front.) Replacement not
Min. Housing and Construction Mrs. Bayan Daza’i Kurdistan Alliance/KDP
Min. Labor and Social Affairs Mahmud al-Radi Shiite/UIA/Independent
Position Name Ethnicity/Bloc/Party Status
Min. Oil Husayn al-Shahristani Shiite/UIA/Independent/close to Ayatollah
Min. Planning Ali Baban Sunni/formerly Accord Front/IIP
Min. Trade Abd al-Falah al-Sudani Shiite/UIA/Da’wa (Anizi faction)
Min. Science and Technology Ra’id Jahid Sunni/Allawi bloc/Communist/boycotting
Min. Municipalities and Public Riyad Ghurayyib Shiite/UIA/ISCI (Badr)
Min. Transportation Amir Isma’il Shiite independent
Min. Water Resources Latif Rashid Kurdistan Alliance/PUK
Min. Youth and Sports Jasim al-Jafar Shiite Turkomen/UIA
Min. State for Civil Society Mrs. Wijdan Mikhail Christian/Allawi bloc/boycotting
Min. State National Dialogue Akram al-Hakim Shiite/UIA/ISCI (Hakim family)
Min. State National Security Shirwan al-Waili Shiite/UIA/Da’wa
Min. State Foreign Affairs Dr. Muhammad al-Dulaymi
Min. State Provincial Affairs Khalud al-Majun female, independent
Min. State Tourism and Qahtan al-Jibburi Shiite independent
Min. State for Women’s Affairs Dr. Nawal al-Samarr Accord Front, female
Min. State for COR Affairs Safa al-Safi Shiite/UIA/independent
Table 9. U.S. Aid (ESF) to Iraq’s Saddam-Era Opposition
(Amounts in millions of U.S. $)
INC War crimes Broadcasting opposition Total
FY1998 — 2.0 5.0 (RFE/RL for 3.0 10.0
(P.L. 105-174) “Radio Free Iraq”)
FY1999 3.0 3.0 — 2.0 8.0
FY2000 — 2.0 — 8.0 10.0
FY2001 12.0 (aid in Iraq) 2.0 6.0 5.0 25.0
(P.L. 106-429) (INC radio)
FY2002 — — — 25.0 25.0
FY2003 3.1 — — 6.9 10.0
Total, 18.1 9.0 11.0 49.9 88.0
INC War crimes Broadcasting opposition Total
FY1998-FY2003 (about 14.5 million
of this went to
FY2004 (request) — — — 0 0
Notes: According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (April 2004), the INC’s Iraqi National Congress
Support Foundation (INCSF) received $32.65 million in U.S. Economic Support Funds (ESF) in five agreements with
the State Department during 2000-2003. Most of the funds—separate from drawdowns of U.S. military equipment
and training under the “Iraq Liberation Act”—were for the INC to run its offices in Washington, London, Tehran,
Damascus, Prague, and Cairo, and to operate its Al Mutamar (the “Conference”) newspaper and its “Liberty TV,”
which began in August 2001, from London. The station was funded by FY2001 ESF, with start-up costs of $1 million
and an estimated additional $2.7 million per year in operating costs. Liberty TV was sporadic due to funding
disruptions resulting from the INC’s refusal to accept some State Department decisions on how U.S. funds were to
be used. In August 2002, the State Department and Defense Department agreed that the Defense Department would
take over funding ($335,000 per month) for the INC’s “Information Collection Program” to collect intelligence on
Iraq; the State Department wanted to end its funding of that program because of questions about the INC’s credibility
and the propriety of its use of U.S. funds. The INC continued to receive these funds even after Saddam Hussein was
overthrown, but was halted after the June 2004 return of sovereignty to Iraq. The figures above do not include covert
aid provided—the amounts are not known from open sources. Much of the “war crimes” funding was used to
translate and publicize documents retrieved from northern Iraq on Iraqi human rights; the translations were placed on
176 CD-Rom disks. During FY2001 and FY2002, the Administration donated $4 million to a “U.N. War Crimes
Commission” fund, to be used if a war crimes tribunal is formed. Those funds were drawn from U.S. contributions to
U.N. programs. See General Accounting Office Report GAO-04-559, State Department: Issues Affecting Funding of Iraqi
National Congress Support Foundation, April 2004.
Figure 1. Map of Iraq
Source: Map Resources. Adapted by CRS.
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs