Today's Article
Political and security
problems in Iraq are
primarily driven by
Shia and Sunni
insecurities, not by
Al-Qaeda, says
August NIE.
The American Spark
National Intelligence Estimate Reveals Bush Lying On Iraq

By Cliff Montgomery - Sept. 10th, 2007

The American Spark today provides several quotes from an August 2007 National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE) on Iraq entitled,
Prospects for Iraq’s Stability: Some Security Progress but Political Reconciliation
Elusive. It is an updated assessment of the January 2007 NIE on Iraq entitled, Prospects for Iraq’s Stability:
A Challenging Road Ahead

The studies are prepared at the direction of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and provide the
Intelligence Community’s analysis of "the critical factors...that are driving Iraq’s security and political trajectory."

And unlike Bush Administration generals who merely claim to have a special understanding of the social and political problems plaguing Iraq, the DNI is speaking within its field of expertise.

"National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) are the Intelligence Community’s (IC) most authoritative written
judgments on national security issues and designed to help US civilian and military leaders develop policies
to protect US national security interests," the DNI declares.

Its conclusions on the current Iraq situation are often jarringly different than those of George W. Bush. We
quote below:

"Driven largely by the accelerating pace of tribal engagement and the increasing tempo of Coalition
operations...Regional variations in security and political circumstances are great and becoming increasingly
more distinct--for example, intra-Shia violence in southern Iraq is very different from patterns of violence

"The unfolding pace and scope of security and political realities in Iraq, combined with our necessarily limited
focus of analysis, contain risks: our uncertainties are greater, and our future projections subject to greater
chances of error.

"These issues, combined with the challenges of acquiring accurate data on trends in violence and continued
gaps in our information about levels of violence and political trends in areas of Iraq without a substantial
Coalition presence and where Intelligence Community collectors have difficulty operating, heighten our caution.

"Nonetheless, we stand by these judgments as our best collective assessment of security and political
conditions in Iraq today and as likely to unfold during the next six to12 months.

"There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last
National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in January 2007.

"The steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq
have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and
some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al-Qa’ida in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement,
and denied it grassroots support in some areas.

"However, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains
high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain un-reconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile
attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively.

"There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government
finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic
growth and living conditions.

"We assess, to the extent that Coalition forces continue to conduct robust counterinsurgency
operations and mentor and support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), that Iraq’s security will continue to
improve modestly during the next six to 12 months but that levels of insurgent and sectarian violence
will remain high and the Iraqi Government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political
reconciliation and improved governance.

"Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and
economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi
political and security developments.

"Political and security trajectories in Iraq continue to be driven primarily by Shia insecurity about
retaining political dominance, widespread Sunni unwillingness to accept a diminished political status,
factional rivalries within the sectarian communities resulting in armed conflict, and the actions of
extremists such as AQI and elements of the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia that try to fuel
sectarian violence.

  • Intra-Shia conflict involving factions competing for power and resources probably will  intensify as Iraqis
    assume control of provincial security. In Basrah, violence has escalated with the drawdown of Coalition
    forces there. Local militias show few signs of reducing their competition for control of valuable oil
    resources and territory.

  • The Sunni Arab community remains politically fragmented, and we see no prospective leaders that might
    engage in meaningful dialogue and deliver on national agreements.

  • Kurdish leaders remain focused on protecting the autonomy of the Kurdish region and reluctant to
    compromise on key issues.

  • Sunni Arab resistance to AQI has expanded in the last six to nine months but has not yet translated into
    broad Sunni Arab support for the Iraqi Government or widespread willingness to work with the Shia.

"The IC assesses that the Iraqi Government will become more precarious over the next six to 12
months because of criticism by other members of the major Shia coalition (the Unified Iraqi Alliance,
UIA), Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and other Sunni and Kurdish parties."

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