2007 August 29 Wednesday
GAO Report Draft Sees Little Progress In Iraq

While the Bush Administration releases reports that put a positive spin on developments in Iraq a leaked draft of a GAO report finds few signs of progress in Iraq.

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The GAO claims that attacks against civilians have not lessened.

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

Meanwhile, Shia cleric and Mahdi Army militia leader Moktada al-Sadr claims he has instructed his militia to enter a ceasefire period.

"We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months," Sheik Hazim al-Araji, a top aide to Sheik al-Sadr, said in a statement read on Iraqi television.

The announcement comes in a week in which intense street battles in the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala killed more than 50 people. Authorities blamed the fighting on intra-Shi'ite rivalries between the Mahdi Army and other militias, principally the Badr Brigade, for the control of key mosques and other sites in the city.

Sadr can try to declare a ceasefire. But the members of his militia might need to keep fighting the Badr Brigade and other militias just in order to stay alive. Also, some of the breakaway factions of the Mahdi Army are no longer taking orders from Sadr and his ceasefire won't stop them.

The reports about Iraq generated by organs of the US government matter less at this point than do the decisions of Shiite militia factions battling each other for control of towns and industries in Iraq.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 August 29 10:43 PM  Mideast Iraq Decay


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