A much-anticipated assessment of Iraq by US' intelligence agencies describes a worsening cycle of chaos in the country, and forecasts that the sectarian strife will continue to fracture the country without bold actions by Iraqi politicians.
The assessment, titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," begins with this blunt conclusion:
"Iraqi society's growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism.
"Unless efforts to reverse these conditions show measurable progress during the term of this estimate, the coming 12 to 18 months, we assess that the overall security situation will continue to deteriorate at rates comparable to the latter part of 2006."
The assessment, which contains the consensus judgments of the 16 agencies that make up the intelligence community, is a stark assessment of the eroding security in the country and the prospects for Iraq's government to reign in the violence between Sunni and Shiia sects.
The report also argues against a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, concluding that a military pullout will only accelerate the violence. Some of the report's judgments were first reported Friday in The Washington Post.
Senior intelligence officials for months had provided glimpses of the new estimate in public testimony before Congress, including an assessment that sectarian violence is the most significant threat to Iraqi security, surpassing even al-Qaeda's role in Iraqi attacks.
"Conflict in Iraq is a self-sustaining and growing cycle in which violent acts increasingly generate retaliation," Lieutenant General Michael Maples, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently told members of Congress.
"Insecurity rationalizes and justifies militias, in particular Shiia militias and increases fears in the Sunni Arab community," he said.
As the sectarian violence gathered steam over last summer, top senators requested that Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte begin work on the new assessment, the first NIE on Iraq since 2004.
National intelligence estimates draw analysis from the disparate US intelligence agencies, and are written by officials at the National Intelligence Council. The new report also draws conclusions about that ability of the Iraqi government to quell the violence and mend sectarian rifts in the country.
Last week, National Intelligence Council chairman, Thomas Fingar, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the new NIE concludes it will be "very difficult" for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to deal with the violence and accomplish a national reconciliation, but "not impossible."
"We judge that Maliki does not wish to fail in his role," Fingar said. "He does not wish to preside over the disintegration of Iraq."
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and