Official US agency paints dire picture of 'out-of-control' Iraq
Juan Cole's latest news from Iraq:
The Guardian: An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".
The "conflict assessment" is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).
The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.
The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.
Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.
"External fighters and organisations such as al-Qaida and the Iraqi offshoot led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are gaining in number and notoriety as significant actors," USAid's assessment said. "Recruitment into the ranks of these organisations takes place throughout the Sunni Muslim world, with most suicide bombers coming from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region."
The assessment conflicted sharply with recent Pentagon claims that Zarqawi's group was in "disarray"... (more)
The newly elected Iraqi government is planning to offer Iraqi Sunni Arabs only 6 cabinet posts. They had 17 MPs in the last parliament, and also 6 cabinet posts. They have 51 MPs in the new parliament. The Sunni Arabs are going to greet this announcement with howls of rage....
UPI has now picked up the story that Cheney discussed an Arab peacekeeping force for Iraq with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak is said to have urged greater Sunni Arab representation in the government. (Egyptians are mostly Sunni Arabs and tend to sympathize with the guerrilla movement.)...(more)